Patron Tequila’s Master Distiller Shares A Taste Of The Good Life

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If you’ve never hear of Francisco Alcaraz, that’s okay. Because, if you have ever had a margarita, chances are, his work has touched you. As Master Distiller for Patrón –  the most famous tequila brand in North America – Francisco is kind of an unspoken household name.

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A tequila lover with a history in chemical engineering (he studied at the University of Guadalajara), Alcaraz has been in the business for over 50 years. He started as an inspector for a tequila regulatory commission, and then started work as a tequila consultant and distiller. He started with Patron over 35 years ago and is responsible for creating the house’s portfolio of tequila including Patrón Reposado and Patrón Citrónge Orange, which were blended together to create the winning 2017 Margarita of the Year.

Alcaraz is not only the current man in charge there, he also created the original recipe for Patrón – one he pays respect to with every blend of tequila he creates. “We progress with each blend, in technique, in flavor, in body. But we do not deviate from the original recipe. We respect it.”

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He recently unveiled his latest work of consumable art in the form of the Patrón en LALIQUE: Serie 2, a blend of extra añejo tequilas, aged in the barrel room at the Hacienda Patrón distillery in the Highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, for an average of more than seven years. This is hand selected tequila from Francisco’s arsenal of special barrels (American, French and Hungarian Oak barrels, as well as Spanish sherry barrels)  crafted to achieve the best balance of agave and oak. The tequila is housed in an Art Deco-inspired crystal decanter created by the master artisans at Lalique and rings in at $7500 per bottle. Only 299 bottles of Patrón en LALIQUE: Serie 2 have been created, each skillfully handmade and individually numbered at LALIQUE’s glass factory in Wingen-sur-Moder, in Alsace, France.

At $7500, it feels and looks like something to be saved, but Alcaraz says no. “Not at all.” Something this special needs no special occasion. Want to know why? Read on.

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What came first, the bottle or the blend?

This as a collaboration. I had the tequila already aging in barrels when they came to me and asked for another Lalique edition. There was already tequila aging in barrels. This is an extra anejo tequila – extra aged. They were already aging for more than five years. They designed the bottle as I started blending. I looked at the bottle and tasted. And looked at the bottle some more. I developed the blend that belonged in that bottle.The blend and bottle were born together.

Hungarian Oak is becoming the go-to for barrel aging in regions like Spain and France. You used it for this blend. Why?

Patrón started using Hungarian oak years ago. We were the first to use it for tequila. The grains of Hungarian oak are tighter.  The aging is slower and more gentle. The tequila takes its time in Hungarian oak. It adds subtle flavor.

As you create your blends, do you start to think of new ways to develop Patrón?

I change things that do not affect our original recipe. I take a lot of care to respect the process, the environmental elements. When you are in this business, you know the microorganisms are very important. You change the environment, you change the product. We will continue to grow as a company by cloning our first process. The equipment is really  our toys to help us grow production as the demand grows. We prefer to do that by  creating many small factories. We have 12 factories under one roof so that we can monitor everything and it is still all made by hand. I am very protective and jealous over my process.

(PRNewsfoto/Patron Tequila)
2017 Margarita of the Year; all images courtesy of Patron Tequila

How often do you drink tequila?

I taste it every day.

What’s your drink?

On the weekends, I like to sip Patrón Silver. Straight. It’ very good with a plate of Mexican snacks and while watching a good soccer match. A night with my wife, maybe a couple of glasses of Piedra, a nice extra anejo aged tequila.

At $7500, this is an exclusive edition of Patrón. Save it or savor it?

Savor it! Today is a gift. Every day is a special occasion because you are alive! Patrón is created to be consumed and shared.  One day I received an email from a couple who was just married. They wanted my advice on how to save a bottle they drank from on their wedding. They wanted to drink from it again on their 25 anniversary. I gave them my advice on how to preserve it, seal it with wax, keep it at the right temperature, away from light, and then, I said, I hope you are alive in 25 years to drink it! You have to enjoy life. Share life. I make Patrón to enjoy and to share!

You can save the bottle, of course. But drink! Drink the tequila!

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