There’s a fine line you walk in designing a new spirits brand between “wanting to stand out” and falling head-over-heels into gimmickry that is meant to sell the product. Sometimes, the aspect that makes a brand unique in the eyes of the consumer is meant to be the liquid within the bottle. Perhaps less inspiring is a brand that simply looks at packaging as a chief way to make a drinker think “I wonder what that is.”
On first glance, this is sort of what I feared from Patsch Tequila, a new ultra-premium brand that recently arrived in the U.S. To be frank, these bottles look quite fanciful and a little absurd, not only thanks to their brass knuckle-style finger holes on the long neck, but the oddly colored (and pointed!) synthetic cork caps, which only make an already tall bottle that much taller and more ungainly. From my cynical starting point, it looked like a calculated way to tackle a crowded tequila aisle by simply trying to look as novel as possible—I mean honestly, I’ve never heard a bartender wish for fingerholes on a liquor bottle before. After actually tasting Patsch’s tequilas, however, I can at least report that the brand is tackling the liquid in its bottles with a welcome seriousness.
And that is a necessity, considering the sky-high price point. Patsch is making a play to compete in the ultra-premium tequila category, with price points that range from $68 for the blanco tequila, to a lofty $248 for its very, very old (7 years!) extra an?ejo. Wanting to get a sense for how the brand is justifying that specific price point, I asked for a comment from co-owner Martin Schapira, who said the following:
“For all Patsch tequilas, we harvest only fully ripe agave, cook them in stone ovens, and double distill them for maximum quality. It’s a 100% organic process from start to finish, including the soil (no chemicals at all) and the distillery process. Our reposado is aged 6-8 months, whereas most are aged just four months, and our Añejo is aged seven years, nearly double what most extra Añejo sits for, resulting in a liquid that is extremely unique, and not your typical, syrupy-sweet expression. Our distillery, Las Americas, NOM 1480 is considered among the, if not the, very best of the premium tequila world. We are as proud of the Añejo as anything ever produced there, and the blanco and reposado are everything the older expressions are, just with less time in the barrels. This is accomplished through an innovative filtration and oxygenation process unique to these expressions.”
So there you go. A pretty traditional, hands-off tequila process, with whatever “innovative filtration and oxygenation” brings to the table. All that’s left is to actually get down to the business of tasting these tequilas, so let’s do it.
The blanco tequila obviously as the lowest price point, but in its own way it also feels like it has the most to prove, as the truest expression of what Patsch’s flavor profile is all about. Like all the bottles in this series, it comes at the standard 40% ABV (80 proof).
On the nose, Patsch Blanco is quite fresh and salty, with some nice green notes and hints of sweet herbaceousness. It’s actually a quite inviting nose, with a little lime zest and more herbal grapefruit, combined with some florals and very subdued ethanol.
On the palate, this tequila is actually pretty impressive. It’s quite peppery on first inspection, with lots of freshly cracked pepper, which presents both with spice and the fruitiness of particularly fresh peppercorn. Also in play are grapefruit, slightly cooked agave and some more musty/funky herbal notes. Hints of candied citrus give it a little bit of sweetness, but it’s fairly dry overall, and rather elegant. Ethanol is quite muted and well incorporated, making it extremely easy to drink. All around a tasty dram, which seems to display a nice sense of terroir. It would surely play well in all the classic uses for blanco tequila, and is quite pleasant to drink neat, though I wonder if perhaps it might get lost a bit in a margarita without punchier flavors.
Patsch ages its reposado for six months in the oak, a midpoint in the requirement that reposado be aged between 2 and 12 months. That proves to be just enough time to subtly smooth out some of its edges, not that Patsch Blanco Tequila had a lot of edge to begin with.
On the nose, the reposado is much like the blanco, with bright green and saline notes that have been tempered by a subtly warm, honeyed sweetness. On the palate it likewise seems a tad sweeter, and the grapefruit has taken on more of a candied dimension, while the herbal notes seem to have brought forth more sweet mint. Ethanol is again very well incorporated and subtle. The dram closes with a pleasant spiciness and hints of toasted oak. All in all, very nice to drink neat, which is often how I like to drink reposado tequila.
“Extra” is right—this was always going to be the most interesting and unusual of the Patsch bottles, because it’s decidedly unlike most other ultra-premium anejo on the market. Your standard anejo is aged 1-3 years in oak, but less than two years is what you’ll see most often. Patsch’s Extra Anejo, on the other hand, spends no less than 7 years in the oak, making this quite old and wood-influenced even by extra anejo standards. Trust me when I say that even most of the tequila on the market labeled as “extra anejo” is only three or four years old, so to taste something that has been in the wood this long in the tequila world is definitely a rarity. I genuinely don’t know how to expect these flavors to evolve with that kind of aging, but I’m curious to find out.
On the nose, this one certainly diverges in some distinctive ways. The most prominent is a red fruitiness that has developed—I’m getting something bright like strawberry or raspberry, which mingles with toasted oak and underlying coconut, with hints of cocoa.
On the palate, there’s more of the oak that you would expect, but this doesn’t read as a particularly woody dram—what oak influence there is reads as sweet and toasty, but the time in the barrel mostly presents to my palate with dark fruit and anise-like spice, in a way that is almost vinous. Over time, cocoa emerges more, and you can still pick up moments reminiscent of coconut and toffee as well. This one is fascinatingly unique, and although it will be difficult for just about anyone to justify a $248 MSRP, Patsch’s Extra Anejo can indeed say it’s offering something that is very hard to replicate elsewhere, which might make it a must-acquire for the right sort of collector.
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.