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Roca Patrón Silver Tequila

Review: Roca Patrón Silver Tequila  93/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on May 28, 2015

According to the company website, Roca Patrón Tequila is a pure 100% Agave Tequila made from agave grown in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico. The agave is 6 to 7 years old when harvested, and the heart of the plant or the piña is all that is used. As a highland tequila,we can expect the Patron Tequila to exhibit strong fruity citrus notes and to have a little hot pepper in the delivery and in the finish. The company was created in 1989 when John Paul DeJoria, and Martin Crowley formed The Patrón Spirits Company with the stated singular goal of producing “the best tequila in the world.”

Tahona Wheel Process

Stone Tahona Wheel Process

Part of the process of making Patrón’s tequila is to remove the agave juice from the harvested piñas (Photos courtesy Brian Sullivan – The Patrón Spirits Company).

Roller Mill

Roller Mill Process

In order to do this the piñas are chopped in half by hand and slowly steamed in masonry brick ovens for about 79 hours to soften them. The softened piñas are then shredded and placed into a traditional stone pit, where they are either crushed and shredded by a large 2 ton stone milling wheel called a Tahona (see photo above) or they are shredded and crushed by a roller mill (see photo to the right).

The pina fibers crushed by the stone Tahona Wheel float to the top of the fermentation vat making an almost airtight seal.

The piña fibers crushed by the stone Tahona Wheel float to the top of the fermentation vat making an almost airtight seal.

Amazingly, the manner in which the juice is extracted from the piñas has an impact upon the distilled flavour of the final tequila. Tequila distilled from the juice which was extracted from the stone wheel Tahona has a noticeably softer and earthier flavour than tequila distilled from the juice extracted by the roller mill.

Part of the reason for the difference in flavour may be that when the juice which has been extracted from the piñas which were crushed by the Tahona Wheel, the left over fibers from those piñas are placed in the fermentation vats along with the juice. The fiber and juice mixture is fermented for 72 hours in a wooden fermentation vat, where apparently some of the flavours from the fibrous material makes its way into the fermented wash. This wash is then distilled twice in copper pot stills to produce the Roca Patrón Tequila.

Incidentally the Roca Patrón Silver Tequila is bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume, and is made completely from the Tahona Wheel crushed agave.

In the Bottle 5/5

Below and to the left is a photo of the Roca Patrón Silver Tequila presentation. The bottle has a comfortable squat rectangular shape and features a decorative blueish/silver lace tied around its neck in a style which reminds me of the western dress ties I used to wear when I was boy. The overall look is similar to other premium Tequila bottles I have seen. The labeling is simple but not unattractive, and I like that the bottle is sealed with a nice cork which gives me that nice satisfying ‘pop’ when I open it.

I should also mention that the bottle is housed in a very nice beige box which serves to elevate the presentation. On the back of this box is a description of the ‘500-year-old Tahona Process’ and the production method used to make the tequila.

Overall, the entire presentation is classy but not ostentatious.
Roca Silver SAM_1560

In the Glass  9/10

I poured out a sample of Roca Patrón Silver Tequila into my glencairn glass and began my examinations with a good look at the agave spirit before I began to nose it. The spirit was clear and showed no sign of colour which is exactly how we expect blanco tequila to appear. I gave the glass a light tilt and a slow swirl and discovered a light sheen of tequila was left on the inside of the glass which slowly gave up a multitude of small leglets. These leglets began to fall back into the bottom of the glass, however they broke down and disappeared before the journey could be completed.

When I brought the glass to my nose, I discovered a light fruity agave aroma with a very mild white pepper scent rising from the glass. There is a whisper of grassy chlorophyll in the breezes and a very light scent of mineral water rising from the glass. The agave is understated and has an almost herbal quality with hints of heather and mint riding at the edges of my perception. If I take my time with the glass I can sense a few light citrus notes (particularly lime zest) and the sense of mint seems to build up very gradually.  I am loving the subtle nuances I have found in the merry little breezes above the glass.

In The Mouth  56.5/60

When I sipped the Roca Silver the first time, I remember bracing myself for a full agave and pepper kick in the teeth. This is after all a bottling which features a 45 % alcohol by volume bottling strength, and I know from my previous reviews of Patrón Tequila that the brand is known for its particularly firm squeal of highland spice. However, this particular Patrón is very different. The normally ‘punky’ agave fruit flavour and the typical peppery spice of a highland tequila are both tempered in this bottling. Rather than searing me with a full 45 % alcohol bite, the Roca Patrón Silver is almost gentle in its approach. Almost, there is still enough pepper and spice to let my tonsils know that I am sipping tequila.

The flavour that I do taste is gently sweet with the earthy agave melded with light grassy flavours of lemon balm and lime zest. A light mintiness within the spirit provides a cooling menthol-like impression which is neatly foiled by a building up of black and white pepper at the back of the palate. There are earthy flavours of garden squash and cucumber embedded within the fruity agave, and to me it all tastes very nice with a subtle complexity that is appealing.

When I served this silver tequila to my friends, the Rum Chums, it was in a blind format as my friends and I were trying to determine the best blanco tequila to serve in Margarita Cocktails (2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge). In that blind format, this was the spirit that my entire judging panel went crazy over. It would not be an understatement to say that the Roca Patrón Silver ran a scythe through the competition. What amazed me was that, even though the agave and the hot peppery spice are understated, those aspects of the spirit nevertheless shone through the cocktail experience. I suspect that it is the high bottling proof (45 %) which gives this agave spirit so much punch and staying power in the cocktail format.

Suffice it to say, everyone in my tasting group loved the Margarita made with Roca Patrón Silver.

In the Throat 13.5/15

The Roca Patrón Silver is as I have indicated a much gentler tequila than its siblings in Patrón’s main line-up. As you sip, heat does build up upon the palate in the form of black and white pepper and these flavours linger on the palate after wards. There is also a light herbal tone with echoes of mint and lime zest resting within the spice.

The Afterburn  9/10

I was not sure what to expect when I cracked open the bottle of Roca Silver which the folks at Select Wines provided  for my 2105 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge. I was able to steal a sip of the spirit before mixing the first Margarita, and to be honest I was expecting a stronger push of agave and spice (in fact I braced myself for it). After that initial sip, I wasn’t at all sure that there was enough herbaceous flavour for the tequila to shine through the Margarita. However, the 45 % bottling strength served the spirit well as it ensured that both the crisp peppery bite which we expect from a good highland tequila and the fruity agave flavour both pushed through the cocktail, and as you know all of my judges found the resulting Margarita delicious.

Later when I sipped the spirit on its own, although I found the spirit gentle (in tequila terms), I also found that the spirit brought a very welcome gentle complexity to the sipping experience. I guess I am hooked, and my score of 93/100 demonstrates my high regard for this new direction Patrón has dared to go.

You may read some of my other Tequila Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.

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Suggested Recipes

When I announced my 2015 Rum Howler Margarita Challenge, the folks at Select Wines immediately arranged for me to receive a bottle of Cointreau singed by Alfred Cointreau himself, and asked me if I would consider using their spirit as the orange liqueur of choice for the cocktail challenge. I thought using the special bottle of Cointreau was a splendid idea, and in honour of Mr. Cointreau (for supplying and signing my bottle) I have dubbed this version of the quintessential Tequila cocktail, the Alfred Cointreau Margarita. and the particular version shown below (made with Roca Patrón Silver Tequila) was the cocktail which ultimately won first place in my Margarita Challenge.

Roca Patron SAM_1530Alfred Cointreau Margarita

2 oz Roca Patrón Silver Tequila
7/8 oz Cointreau
1/8 oz sugar syrup (1:1)
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
ice
Lime wheel

Combine all ingredients in a large metal shaker and add ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a chilled martini glass
Garnish with salt and a lime wheel.

Please enjoy this indulgence responsibly!

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Here is a very nice Cosmo-style cocktail I designed a few years ago which uses Tequila rather than Vodka to provide the base for the cocktail.

Metro Mexico SAM_1561Metro Mexico

1 1/2 ounces Roca Patrón Silver Tequila
3/4 ounce Patrón Citronge
1 ounce Cranberry juice
1/2 ounce Lime Juice
Bar spoon of  sugar syrup (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large metal shaker and add ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a chilled martini glass
Garnish with a lime slice

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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You may (loosely) interpret the scores as follows.

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing Tequila.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, (we are probably still cocktail in territory).
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing delicious cocktails!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 
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