Patron’s Founders Just Launched a New Vodka Made From Blue Agave

What does one do after founding one of the most successful tequila brands, virtually creating the premium tequila category in America, and then selling it to Bacardi for more than $5 billion? Start a new vodka brand, it seems, but not just any vodka—one made from 100 percent Blue Weber agave, the same plant that tequila is made from.

Round 2 Spirits was created by a few key members of the Patron Tequila brand: billionaire founder of Patron and Paul Mitchell John Paul DeJoria, former Patron CEO Ed Brown, former Patron and Grey Goose CMO Lee Applbaum, former Patron COO Dave Wilson, and former COO of Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits Brad Vassar. The first product from the Texas-based company is called Weber Ranch 1902 Vodka. Although this is not the first vodka on the market that is made from agave, it is still pretty rare—most vodka is made from wheat, corn, rye, or potatoes. According to Applbaum, the idea was to make a unique mark on the most popular spirit category in America. “By volume, vodka is the largest spirits category in the U.S., but let’s be honest, it’s been a long time since there was any meaningful innovation or true disruption in this space,” he said in a statement. “I’m not talking about trendy flavors, clever packaging, or crazy rounds of distillation–that’s just line extension, differentiation, and iteration, not true disruption.”

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According to the brand, the production process for the vodka takes place in both Mexico and the U.S. The Blue Weber agave is harvested and distilled in Jalisco (it’s not disclosed exactly where), and then the spirit is transported to the Weber Ranch Distillery in Muenster, Texas. There it is redistilled in both copper pot and column stills, filtered, and bottled after being cut with water from the Trinity Aquifer. According to the brand, the vodka is 100 percent additive free, something that is increasingly important to tequila drinkers and consumers overall.

I asked Applbaum about the decision to use agave to distill vodka, which many people believe is by its very nature to be a flavorless, odorless spirit—although, in fact, the TTB recently changed the definition to indicate that vodka can indeed have those attributes. “The reality is that many vodkas have very distinct flavor profiles, certainly a byproduct of how they are produced, but more significantly because of their use of wheat, corn, or potato, or other commodity crops,” he said. “We obviously know a little something about crafting spirits from 100 percent Blue Weber agave, and that when carefully distilled it yields a superior product with a natural sweetness and clean, bright citrus notes that you simply cannot get from commoditized crops that may take just a few months to mature.” I got to try an early sample of Blue Weber Vodka, and I have to agree; there’s a soft creaminess to the palate, which has notes of vanilla, espresso, black pepper, and a bit of subtle lemon.

I also asked Applbaum if consumers, particularly tequila aficionados, might view this as being similar to what they disparagingly call “aga-vodka,” referring to the flavorless spirit that is produced when diffusers are used in tequila production instead of more traditional methods. “First of all, Weber Ranch is not a tequila, and we are as clear as our vodka about that,” said Applbaum, and of course that is the case. “Weber Ranch isn’t about challenging tequila or creating consumer confusion. Quite the contrary… We hope Weber Ranch introduces traditional vodka consumers to the amazing spirits that Blue Weber agave can create, and shows tequila consumers that there is another spirit (vodka) made from the plant that they never would have imagined.”

Weber Ranch 1902 Vodka ($28) is rolling out nationally now, and you can also purchase a bottle directly from the website.

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