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Defining Brand Heritage

An Interview with Patrón Brand Education Manager, Mariana Sanchez Benitez

— November 18, 2019 — Business
Patrón Tequila is a company whose identity keeps a good balance between its deeply rooted heritage and the contemporary aesthetic. Placing a heavy emphasis on the aspect of educating the public on origins and the art of tequila in Mexico, the Patrón brand is capable of curating an enriching and vastly interesting consumer experience.

From the craft that comes with maturing the ingredients to the precision and execution of timeless traditions, Patrón Tequila's small-batch spirits are bound to capture the attention of the connoisseur. To find out to what extent heritage and education engulf the Patrón brand, Trend Hunter spoke to Mariana Sanchez Benitez -- Patrón's International Brand Education Manager.

Can you speak a little bit more about Patrón’s mandate and how it ties to the concept of sustainability?

At Patrón, we have a steadfast commitment to crafting the world's finest tequila, but we're just as dedicated to taking care of the resources and people that make it possible. Producing in the best possible way is important to us and applying rigorous standards in how we treat the environment, employees and community partners is a natural extension of our focus on quality. For example, we have reforested or donated approximately 16,000 trees to our local community of Atotonilco el Alto, Jalisco. We have also developed a state-of-the-art water treatment system to reclaim clean water from our tequila production. That water is then reused in our cooling towers and for cleaning. We’re also proud to be the first tequila distillery to install a natural gas pipeline as the main energy source, which helps reduce CO2 emissions. At the Patrón Hacienda, we also have a large compost area where we compost all the fiber coming from the production process and we give it back to the agave field owners at no cost, so they can use it in the fields.

Furthermore, our team partners with the National Center for Genetic Resources to better understand Weber Blue Agave so we can safeguard its future existence to be a benefit for all tequila producers. In addition to caring for the environment, respecting our production partners is of paramount importance to us.

People can distinguish Patrón’s tequila from others due to our sourcing of high-quality ingredients like 100% premium blue weber agave. We have a long-lasting, supportive relationship with eight families, from which we have sourced premium agave for years. We seek to support these local growers.

How do you innovate in terms of flavor?

Patrón tequila is an ultra-premium spirit and Gran Patrón Smoky is our newest example of pushing boundaries in technique and flavor. Smoky belongs to our “Gran Patrón” line. This line has amazing products capable of disrupting other spirits categories through their versatility and rich flavor profiles. The scent and tasting notes of Smoky resemble what many assume they will find in a mezcal. However, Smoky is still an ultra-premium tequila made of a 100 percent blue weber agave, following the artisanal small-batch and tahona wheel process. Even across the core line of Patrón Silver, Reposado and Añejo, we are able to deliver complex flavor experiences exactly as our master distiller has envisioned. This is thanks to the unique combination of both tahona and roller mill processes, extracting juice from the cooked agave plants, as well as the use of 5 different varieties of oak barrels that are artfully blended for unique taste profiles for our aged tequilas.

How do consumers respond to the tales of Patrón’s Mexican tradition?

The Patrón brand has had immense success over the last several decades -- we have become the #1 Super Premium tequila globally and many have been introduced to 100% premium tequila through our efforts. We honor our homeland by crafting an exceptional spirit through traditional methods and attempting to educate consumers on this process. Patrón is also proud to collaborate with several notable Mexican artisans and storytellers when we create limited edition products. This allows us to share experiences of Mexican tradition through both the tequila and its packaging. Some of these limited edition offerings have been known to sell out in matter of weeks!

We have partnered with Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro, a native of Jaliscan, for example. The signature bottle holds a perfect extra añejo tequila featuring a blend of aged tequilas, averaging 5 years in used oak barrels upside down. The bottle, designed by del Toro himself, is crowned by a skull resting on top holding an aged deep orange liqueur that perfectly complements the tequila’s symphony of dark flavors. This pairing of products reflects the pairing of film and tequila that came about through Patrón x Guillermo del Toro. Each year we partner with a new artist to launch a Mexican Heritage tin. For the 2019 tin, which is now available across several Canadian provinces for the holidays, we engaged Mexican artist Smithe. He created a bold design that features two distinctly Mexican embroidery styles, Tenango-Hidalgo and Mariachi, paired with elements that represent Patrón's handcrafted process. Inside the beautiful tin is a 750ml bottle of our Patron Silver, along with a booklet sharing more information on the artist’s story. Since 2016, each annual tin release is supported by events and online communication sharing the story with as many consumers as possible.

What value does heritage bring to your brand?

Our heritage unpins our identity as a leader and trailblazer in the tequila industry. It also distinguishes us from other tequila produces. Out of respect to our heritage, tradition and our roots, we still follow the same small batch production techniques and original recipe as the day we were founded. From Patrón's use of the traditional tahonal mill in the production process to the refusal to use additives and the hand-applied labels on our bottles, these reflect a respect for the craft of tequila-making as held by our Master Distiller Francisco Alcaraz and shared by over 1,600 employees who work at the Patrón Hacienda in Mexico. Because of this commitment, many consumers see Patrón as one of the world’s finest tequilas.

What are some consumer trends you have been seeing in the spirit market? Where do you think those come from?

There are several exciting trends in spirits that are occurring globally, as well as in Canada. For example, many consumers are choosing to discover what they perceive to be “new” categories like Gin or Tequila. These are the fastest-growing categories in Canada, both growing +8% in volume. This can be attributed to stemming from the interesting origin stories and ingredients these products have to offer. There is also a massive shift towards premiumization and while younger drinkers in their 20’s or 30’s, in particular, may be drinking less, they are drinking better. The Super Premium Tequila category, which Patron is a part of, has grown over 20% in volume over the past year, and this momentum is expected to continue. People are very interested in transparency in products, as well as knowing more about ingredients. As a result, they are willing to pay more for a quality experience. This applies to fashion, food, and drinks. Patrón's use of only 100% Blue Weber Agave, small-batch distillation techniques, and its commitment to industry-leading sustainable production practices are just a few of the reasons why a growing number of people are choosing the brand.

What role does education play in the ethos of the Patrón brand?

Patrón's high-quality standards and tradition have been part of the brand since it was founded in 1989. Bringing 100% agave tequila to other markets from its homeland in Mexico has also helped to turn around the negative perception of tequila as being exclusively a party beverage. It has actually allowed the consumer to perceive the spirit as something capable of delivering a more elevated and versatile experience.

As the World’s #1 Super Premium Tequila and the #1 Super Premium Tequila in Canada, we take our role in the category as an innovator, leader and educator very seriously. We are proud to provide category resources such as knowyournom.com. Through this, consumers can learn more about which distilleries different tequila brands come from. Patrón also partners with The Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT) -- known in English as the Tequila Regulatory Council, to host in-depth certification sessions around the world for hundreds of bartenders. This is done on an annual basis. In addition, there are events like the one I was involved in this week in Toronto. At the activation, Patrón partnered with a number of authentic restaurants and bars, such as Milagro Cantina, to host fun tequila tastings and cocktail-making classes. These were open to the public.

Moreover, Academia Patrón is an educational online platform. It is a great resource to learn about tequila as a category and get a full immersion in the brand, as well. In fact, I will be visiting next week some of our European markets to help with the execution of Academia and help spread the correct message of the spirit and the Patrón brand. Education is, without a doubt, a significant pillar that helps both bartenders and consumers better understand the category and remove the misperception about tequila, showing that great tequilas don’t need lime and salt to be enjoyed. A premium spirit such as Patrón can be enjoyed amongst friends whether it is sipped on the rocks or consumed as a key ingredient in great cocktails -- from our Patrónic (Patrón Silver and tonic) and our negroni tp the Perfect Patrón Margarita made with Patrón Reposado and a great Añejo Old fashioned.

Image Credit: Patrón Tequila
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