We drink a ton of it. We blame poor choices on it because Jamie Foxx said that was cool. But what do we really know about the industry-transforming, surprisingly hands-on behemoth tequila brand that is Patrón? Here are 11 things you might not know about that iconic squat bottle.
It’s the step-cousin of your leave-in conditioner.
Before he got into the liquor business, Patrón co-founder John Paul DeJoria was busy co-founding Paul Mitchell. After turning an initial $700 investment into a successful haircare business, DeJoria went ahead and co-founded the world’s most successful premium tequila company. Lucky for (or because of) DeJoria, the “high end premium and super premium” tequila markets skyrocketed 292 percent and 706 percent respectively in the last 15 years, so yeah, now he’s a billionaire. Also: BFFs with Clint Eastwood.
It started with a bottle, not a recipe.
As a premium tequila, Patrón is made with 100 percent Blue Weber Agave, a recipe developed in an era drowning in “mixto” tequila (essentially cheap swill produced by mixing distilled agave with up to 49 percent rough, flavorless firewater that can be made from any old starch you like). But it wasn’t agave but the beauty of the hand-blown glass bottle that inspired the brand. DeJoria’s future business partner brought the beautiful bottle back from a business trip to Mexico, and while what was inside was apparently a nightmare, the bottle itself was so impressive it inspired the “simply perfect” catchphrase of the brand.
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You can get buzzed by an Oscar nominee.
Jalisco-born Guillermo del Toro is responsible for many wondrous creations — “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Blade II,” that million-times-Oscar-nominated bizarre aquatic love story. Now we have another creation to thank him for: Patrón x Guillermo del Toro Tequila and Liqueur, priced at a reasonable $599.95. Del Toro isn’t the first celeb to dip his toe into the luxury hooch industry; in addition to that million-dollar smile, George Clooney’s got his own tequila, and let’s not forget the only skull-shaped vodka brand backed by a Ghostbuster, which is now available diamond-filtered! Del Toro might not pour his tequila over a pile of jewels, but his ad campaign is (no surprise) decidedly intense.
The co-founder of Patrón once worked as a janitor.
In case you need to feel worse about your career trajectory, or seek new reasons to believe in your dreams, you can always remind yourself that Patrón co-founder John Paul DeJoria once worked as a janitor. Did we mention he’s now friends with Dirty Harry? Yeah, he’s doing all right.
It’s Mexican tequila, but the label’s a shout-out to the U.S. Navy.
Co-founder Martin Crowley designed the logo, which — and we seriously never noticed this — has a hornet on the label. That’s because before he got heavy into tequila, Crowley served in the Navy on the massive USS Hornet aircraft carrier.
It’s a mega brand with some unexpectedly small-business vibes.
Yes, there is a sprawling, gorgeous Hacienda Patrón, home to the distillery and La Casona, a year-old private guesthouse that kind of looks like the residence of a James Bond villain. But Patrón actually prides itself on moderation. According to the company, a mere 60 hands go into the production of every bottle (which is actually a small number considering production levels), and a mere “eight families provide 80 to 95%” of Patrón’s agave plants.
Patrón is kind of like Bordeaux.
Speaking of Patrón’s agave plants, they’re not cultivated at Hacienda Patrón. Like the grapes used to make those mega-expensive Bordeaux wines, the agave plants that go into Patrón are carefully selected from a variety of producers. It’s sort of like the difference between making a meal with whatever’s in your fridge versus being super rich and picking out the best ingredients from different gourmet stores, most likely while traveling by chopper.
Patrón is the same age as Taylor Swift!
Like everyone’s favorite, and inevitable ex-girlfriend, Patrón was born in 1989. We don’t know how many celebrity hearts it’s broken, or whether it and Jake Gyllenhaal are still on good terms, but the brand, like Swift, has likely led to more than a few tales of heartbreak.
Patrón production is surprisingly old-school.
Tequila used to be made with something called the ancient Tahona process, wherein heartless tequila distillers force a donkey to drag a massive volcanic stone over agave hearts prior to cooking and distilling them. (We assume that donkey hates his life.) Patrón still goes old-school, although they give the donkeys a break and use machinery to drag massive, specially sculpted stones across their agave hearts, yielding a unique vegetal taste that they then mix with a portion of citrusy tequila made with the modern Roller Mill method.
You have one guy to thank for that smooth, smooth balance.
When it comes to mixing, barreling, and aging Patrón, there’s one dude making the decisions, also owner of what is arguably the coolest leather jacket in all of Mexico. Francisco Alcaraz is the world’s first ever tequila inspector, which we have to assume is probably the best kind of inspector you can be besides Inspector Gadget. Alcaraz has been inspecting tequila for close to 50 years, and his incredibly strict standards are a huge factor — if not the actual backbone — of the success of the brand.
Patrón might seem “swank,” but it’s run by a bunch of hippies.
Patrón might have a slight … swag factor, but the company is exceptionally environmentally conscious. They use water left over from distillation and compost 100 percent of the spent agave hearts — about 5,500 tons of compost a year — using it to feed the hacienda’s garden, which in turn feeds Patrón staff. They also share compost with the local community and installed a natural gas pipeline to reduce CO2 emissions. And, we assume, probably take regular hacky sack breaks.