El Mayor Anejo Barrel Select Tequila 1st Pour Celebration
El Patrón — Friday, Dec. 2 at 5 p.m.
Barrel Select El Mayor Añejo Tequila — photo by Zak Neumann
Iowa City restaurant El Patrón – Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar (109 E College St., Iowa City) is offering a specialty barrel of tequila through a partnership with El Mayor, a tequila producer that has been operating out of the Mexican state of Jalisco for four generations.
The Barrel Select El Mayor Añejo Tequila is available in drinks at the restaurant as well as a limited number of bottles at John’s Grocery in Iowa City. Owner George Etre said they wanted something smooth and a little sweeter, so that it could be enjoyed by beginning tequila drinkers.
“It’s fun to get the samples and get people to taste it, because so many people have this notion of tequila — that it’s gross, you have to hold your nose,” Etre said. “This is not the tequila you drank in college. It’s meant to be savored, not just shot after shot.”
The specialty barrel also represents the connection the restaurant tries to maintain between it’s Mexican influences and Iowa roots.
“We wanted something that represents Iowa City and where we’re from,” Etre said. “We have a saying, ‘Made in Iowa City with Mexican parts.’ You wouldn’t think that would be possible but we work it out.”
The restaurant has done a select tequila barrel before through Patrón and Etre said the positive reception for that barrel encouraged them to go through the process again. This time they worked with Rodolfo Gonzalez, El Mayor’s third-generation master distiller, to craft the specialty tequila. They are the first Iowa business to offer a specialty tequila through El Mayor.
The process of tequila production involves cooking the harvested agave and pressing the juices, which are fermented and distilled. The alcohol can then either be sold as a tequila blanco — un-aged — or aged in barrels for anywhere from a few months to upwards of three years, depending on the type of tequila.
“Once you barrel tequila, you’re kind of at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Etre said. “It’s going to grow and process and take some of the flavors from the barrel. So we were really lucky when we tried it and tasted it and saw how good it really was.”
Waiting for the tequila to age and then working through customs and Iowa’s legal hoops to get an exclusive barrel were a challenge, Etre said, especially since they didn’t know until the bottles arrived what the tequila would actually taste like.
“We really were in the dark with a lot of it,” he said. “But trying to do something so unique like this is worth all that work. I’m excited for people to come out and taste it and let us know what they think.”
The public will have their first chance to taste this exclusive barrel on Friday, Dec. 2 at a free tasting event that runs from 5 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at El Patrón.
So how’s it taste?
Little Village got to try El Patrón’s Barrel Select El Mayor Añejo Tequila. Here’s some thoughts from our staff: The amber-colored tequila is oaky with notes of caramel and orange and a sweet aftertaste reminiscent of a whiskey. It’s a good way to warm up as the cold weather starts rolling in.