What Makes Patrón's New $180 El Alto Tequila Stand Out

A go-to brand for tequila experts and novices alike (it was just shy of the top choice in our tequila ranking), Patrón recently announced its newest offering, a tequila billed as "simply perfect for momentous occasions big and small." Patrón El Alto, packaged in a sleek, blue bottle meant to evoke the distinctive color of agave fields, will be released only in New York, Miami, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles and will retail for $179.

Tequila aficionados know and love the fiery spirit in all its guises: Youthful blanco, complex reposado, sturdy and assertive añejo, as well as intense extra añejo. The Consejo Regulador del Tequila governs the production and labeling of real-deal tequila. It defines the geographic areas in which it can be produced, the aging requirements for each category, and the material used for its production — namely, the Weber Blue agave.

Most of the discussion about tequila categories and styles focuses on the aging of the spirit (for example, whether you prefer blanco or reposado tequila for your margarita), and Robb Report points out that tequila regulations, like the regulations governing Scotch, only permit the age statement to reflect the youngest spirit in a blend. Patrón El Alto, while following tequila rules to the letter, doesn't conform to typical expectations, instead offering a distinctive and unexpected take on serious tequila.

Patrón El Alto tequila defies categorization

Long Island Lou Tequila explains that Jalisco, where most tequila is made, is subdivided into two regions: Los Altos, the highlands, and El Valle, the lowlands. It is highland agave, prized for delicate, soft, fruity, and floral qualities, which features in Patrón's new tequila, El Alto. In its press release, Patrón explains El Alto tequila is handcrafted from 100% Weber Blue Agave from " ... the highest parts of Jalisco, Mexico, yielding the sweetest agaves for an incredibly smooth taste." 

But it's not just the highland terroir that differentiates El Alto from other tequilas. The finished spirit is a blend of mostly extra añejo tequila, rounded out with both añejo and reposado tequilas. Master Distiller David Rodriguez's team did more than 300 tastings to refine the blend of tequilas aged in 11 different kinds of barrels. That means El Alto is technically a relatively young reposado tequila, even though most of the blend is extra añejo, aged more than three years. Patrón didn't invent blended luxury tequila, according to Robb ReportMichael Jordan's Cincoro Gold blends tequilas of different ages, as does luxury conglomerate Moët Hennessy's Volcán de Mi Tierra.

And how does El Alto taste? According to Patrón, "This exquisite and refined prestige tequila is naturally smooth and sweet with subtle notes of figs, honey, caramel, dried fruit and vanilla." If you procure a bottle, we recommend sipping it from a flute.