A small group of lucky taste-testers in Washington, D.C., enjoyed a sneak peek at Patron’s newest offering, Gran Patron Piedra, at a Patron Aficionados event hosted at the Ritz Carlton in conjunction with the Redskins Alumni Association.
Gran Patron Piedra is Patron’s first extra añejo offering, a relatively new class of tequilas which signifies aging for a minimum of three years. Gran Patron Piedra has been aged in new American and French oak barrels, and is produced via the ancient Tahona production process in which a massive stone wheel crushes steam-cooked agave, releasing its juices and flavors to be fermented and distilled along with the remaining crushed agave fiber.
Piedra, which means “stone” in Spanish, is produced entirely via the Tahona process. It also benefits from Patron’s other unique methods — the spring fed deep well water found underneath the property; hand-selecting only the finest agave “piñas”, with high sugar content; its slow-steaming process, lasting 79 hours; hand-crafted glass bottles; and traditional copper pot distillation.
At the Patron Aficionados event, an in-depth presentation on this entire process was provided by several of the company’s higher ups, including Ismael Solis and Antonio Rodriguez. For those uninitiated to the world of tequila, it was an eye-opening experience to learn the level of craft involved in Patron’s production, and by extension, to the true quality of premium tequilas.
In addition to a sneak peek taste of Gran Patron Piedra, the entire lineup from Patron was available for tasting at the event, including Gran Patron Burdeos, a luxury añejo tequila finished in Bordeaux barrels, which imparted a unique oaky aroma and taste to the tequila.
Craft cocktails were designed for different Patron tequilas by J.P. Caceres, the head of the local chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild. These include offerings such as La Piñata, which was nearly as much fun to watch being made as to drink. First, a butane torch was used to release smoke from a cedar plank. The smoke was then trapped inside a glass, offering all of its robust smokiness to the beverage, which consisted of the unique pairings of Patron Añejo, Benedictine liqueur, Lillet Blanc and Pernod Absinthe spray.
For consumers who have to this point limited their tequila experiences to knocking back shocks or making margaritas, they’ve clearly been missing out on a world of possibility and flavor.
As for D.C.-area tequila connoisseurs who weren’t able to attend the Patron Aficionados event, they’ll have to wait until January 2014, when they can buy a bottle of Gran Patron Piedra for $399 on the shelves of local liquor stores (the aforementioned Burdeos is available for $599). Piedra is currently only available in global Duty Free stores.
Until then, or to save some cash while enjoying premium-level tequilas instead of shelling out for the whole bottle, you may wish to head to one of two El Centro locations in the District, where you’ll find over 200 tequila selections, a variety of tasting and sampling options in their highly-touted “Tequila Bible”, and a range of house-infused tequilas as well.