When it comes to ultra-premium spirits, tequila is seldom the first category to be mentioned, especially in this region, where the spirit is synonymous with party shots and that stereotypical lemon-and-salt combination.

Patrón tequila, however, changed all that.

In the United States, tequila used to have a similarly bad rep as well, but through a major marketing campaign and celebrity endorsements, Patrón helped establish tequila as more than a drink that gets you intoxicated fast, and gives you a bad hangover. It also helped bust the myth that all tequilas should be taken with a slice of lemon and a pinch of salt.

“The truth is, when you have an ultra premium tequila, you don’t need lemon and salt. Most people relate tequila with hangovers, but Patrón, you won’t get that,” said Patrón regional director of marketing for Asia Pacific, Milton Alatorre, during an interview at Providence KL.

According to him, there are two types of tequila – mixto, made with minimum 51% agave (blended together with other sugars), and 100% agave. All tequilas are made from the maguey, or core, of the blue agave plant.

“Patrón focused only on 100% Agave tequila, and we make high-end premium products, and soon, people started relating good quality tequila with Patrón.”

Patrón regional director of marketing for Asia Pacific, Milton Alatorre. — Photos: Fortier Wine and Spirits

Patrón regional director of marketing for Asia Pacific, Milton Alatorre. Photos: Fortier Wine and Spirits

But what is good tequila? How do you tell good tequila from one that is not? “Everyone has a different taste, but basically, if you want to taste a good tequila, it has to be 100% agave,” said Alatorre.

“With a premium tequila like Patrón, you won’t get a strong alcohol aroma, but you will get more aromas from the blue agave, grassy and herbal notes … a good tequila has really wonderful aromas. Patrón, for example, has a good balance of citrus notes, and a prominent blue agave flavour.”

According to Alatorre, the taste of blue agave is very unique. “Blue agave is something very unique and different from other things I have tasted abroad. It’s very hard to explain! When you cook agave, you get a very honey-like substance. Have you ever tried agave nectar? That’s exactly how it tastes – like a sweet potato, with grassy, honey, and herbal aromas.”

According to him, tequila tends to be more expensive than other spirits like rum, gin or vodka because it takes a long time for a blue agave plant to mature.

“We need to wait seven to 10 years for a blue agave plant to mature before we can turn it into tequila. An average agave plant weighs 35-55kg, and to produce one litre of tequila, we need around 7kg,” he explained, adding that Patrón double distils their tequila, and ages them in five different types of oak barrels.

Imported and marketed in Malaysia by Fortier Wines & Spirits, Patrón’s core range consists of three tequilas – Patrón Silver (bottled immediately after disillation), Patrón Reposado (rested for three to five months in oak barrels before bottling), and Patrón Añejo, which is aged for 12 to 14 months.

They’ve also got the ultra-premium Gran Patrón Platinum, which is triple distilled, and rested in oak open barrels for one month, and the Gran Patrón Burdeos, which is aged for a year in used bourbon barrels, then 10 months French limousin wine barrels, and finally, two months in Bordeaux wine barrels. “You get a sweeter profile out of the Grand Bordeaux. People get the impression it is not tequila because it has cognac and whisky aromas.”

Their tequila-based liqueurs are equally popular – Patrón XO Cafe infuses Silver tequila with Arabica coffee from Mexico, Patrón XO Cafe Dark Cocoa is a combination of Silver, coffee, and Criollo chocolate from Mexico, and Patrón Citrónge is a tequila-based orange liqueur.

If you’re using Patrón in a drink, Alatorre says that Patrón tequilas go well with citrus flavours.

“Our most well-known drink is, of course, Patrón margarita, which uses our orange liqueur in it. In Mexico – we drink the Paloma, which is grapefruit soda with tequila and ice,” he said. It’s a good combination because there are citrus aromas from the Patrón Silver and the grapefruit. We drink more Palomas than margaritas in Mexico!”

Finally, Alatorre says the only way to change the perception of someone who has had a bad experience with tequila in the past, is to let them try a good tequila.

“They just have to be open and try it again. But this time, give them a good tequila, preferably a Patrón!” he said with a laugh.

Michael Cheang sips his tequila, even when it comes in a shotglass. Drop him a note at the Tipsy-Turvy Facebook page (Facebook.com/mytipsyturvy).