Tequila is somewhat of a polarizing liquor. Some absolutely love it while others stay away from it as if their life depends on it – and in the middle you find those who enjoy tequila shots, margaritas, or classic cocktails. Both Don Julio and Patron are popular top shelf tequilas among those enjoy drinking the agave-made spirit. So, in this guide, Don Julio vs Patron, we’re going to let these two admired tequilas stand off. Is one better than the other? What are the differences in taste, price, and so on?
For the sake of this comparison, we are mainly focusing on Don Julio Blanco and Patron Silver, their base tequilas. But before we jump right into it, let’s first cover the what exactly tequila is, and the basic history of each brand.
What Exactly Is Tequila?
Like most types of whiskey, tequila is regulated by Mexican law as to what is tequila and what isn’t. As bourbon can only be made in America, tequila can only be distilled in Mexico. More specifically, tequila production is limited to the state of Jalisco and a couple municipalities in a few other Mexican states. Second, tequila must be distilled from the blue agave plant. The blue agave plant is primarily found in the city of Tequila within the state of Jalisco, hence why it’s called tequila.
Tequila must be between 35% and 55% abv (70 -110 proof) but must be at least 80 proof to be sold in the US and Canada. While natives consumed fermented beverages from the agave plant for hundreds or thousands of years prior, it was not until the early-mid 1500’s that tequila was distilled. The Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico in 1516 and, after running out of brandy, began to distill tequila from the agave plant. Around the year 1600, mass production began.
Don Julio vs Patron History
We briefly covered the history of how tequila came to be, but now it’s time to cover the history of these two storied brands. While the past might not change how the tequila tastes today, learning the roots of Don Julio and Patron might help you further appreciate their spirits.
Don Julio History
Don Julio Gonzales-Frausto Estrada, the founder of Don Julio Tequila, began distilling his own tequila at the mere age of 17. He learned the trade early as he grew up working in his uncle’s distillery. In 1942 he opened up his own distillery and named it La Primavera. It wasn’t until decades later on Don Julio’s 60th birthday that his sons created a tequila in their fathers name. After it grew in popularity, they launched the tequila that we now know as Don Julio.
Since then, the Don Julio brand has changed owners on a couple occasions. Originally Seagram’s had invested in the company and later, Diageo and Jose Cuervo each owned half the brand. In 2014, Diageo took full ownership of the brand in an agreement with Cuervo.
Patron doesn’t quite have the warm, heart-felt story of that of Don Julio. In 1989, John Paul DeJoria and Martin Crowley launched Patron Spirits Co. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that the tequila really began to take off. Ed Brown took over as CEO in 2000 and began to mirror Patron’s marketing strategy with that of Grey Goose (to learn about Grey Goose head here).
Patron marketed their tequila as “premium” and soon became a symbol of high-class and sophistication. With this, it soon became a popular reference in pop culture and music, further pushing the popularity of the brand in parties and clubs.
Don Julio vs Patron Differences
Outside of their histories, Don Julio and Patron have many similarities. This is fairly standard amongst tequilas since they are governed by strict regulations. You can only use the blue agave plant and it has to be from a certain region. Liquors such as whiskey and vodka are distilled around the world and use all types of ingredients in their mashbill. Both Don Julio and Patron are 80 proof or 40% abv.
However, they do have their differences, mostly in what they do after they harvest the agave. Agave typically take 8-10 years to ripen, and after that Don Julio cuts the pieces into thirds or fourths before they are cooked whereas Patron cuts their agave in half.
Don Julio vs Patron Taste
This is probably the information you are looking for. Don Julio vs Patron. What do they taste like and which is better? (As a reminder, this is comparing the Don Julio Blanco to the Patron Silver).
Don Julio Flavor Profile
Nose: Agave, lime, light fruit, citrus and grapefruit
Taste: Agave, ethanol, citrus nose carries over to the palate.
Finish: A light burn from the alcohol with pepper. Long but mild.
Patron Flavor Profile
Nose: Agave, earthy, citrus
Taste: Agave, ethanol, subtle hints of caramel and pepper, citrus
Finish: Light and smooth pepper finish.
Don Julio vs Patron Taste Summary
Don Julio and Patron have pretty similar profiles. The agave, pepper, and citrus stand out the most with subtle differences across. At the end of the day, there really is no wrong choice here as they are both quality tequilas and have very similar tasting notes.
Don Julio vs Patron – Which Is Better?
This is a purely subjective topic and ultimately depends upon what you are drinking and why you are drinking. With that being said, when it comes to the Blanco and Silver, I prefer Patron Silver. I am torn by this because I really thought I’d enjoy Don Julio more in a side by side comparison. I was also rooting for them because of their rich history in contrast to Patron’s grand, deluxe marketing scheme.
This does not mean Patron is better. Most people who appreciate good tequila will tell you that Don Julio has a richer, more complex taste, and I fully agree. However, for me, the palate was similar, but the finish was smoother and easier with Patron.
Which should you buy or which should you serve is a completely different question, however. Are you someone, or serving someone, who wants to sip tequila on the rocks and enjoy and taste the flavors? Buy Don Julio. Are you showing up or throwing a party where you want to crank things up a bit? Buy Patron.
Ultimately, the Silver and Blanco options are the base line for Patron and Don Julio, respectively. Both are good enough to sip, but are probably better off for cocktails. If you want the good stuff without adding too much to the price tag, try Don Julio Reposado.
Don Julio vs Patron Price
Both Don Julio and Patron are top-shelf, “premium” tequilas, and you can expect to pay up for it. However, neither are ridiculously expensive. Personally, I don’t mind the price tag attached to these two bottles because tequila is the one liquor I don’t drink cheap. I can drink cheap whiskey with coke, or vodka and gin with lemonade and tonic and be just fine. Cheap tequila is a no from me.
Don Julio Price
- 750ml: $38-45
- 1.75L: $78-85
- 750ml: $38-45
- 1.75L: $78-85
Prices will vary depending on location and store, but typically the cheapest you’ll find a bottle of either is just under $40. Plenty of places will list it around $50, but finding either under $45 shouldn’t be difficult with a little research.
Don Julio vs Patron Summary
Don Julio vs Patron is a great comparison because they are so similar yet so different. When it comes to taste, they are neck and neck. Your average tequila drinker, like myself, may lean towards Patron for its more bland, rather simple, flavors and finish while your tequila aficionado will likely appreciate Don Julio more.
At similar price points as well, this is really a 50/50 pick ’em. However, if you are someone who appreciates history and the art of distillation, Don Julio is your way to go. Don Julio started distilling his own tequila at the age of 17 in 1942 and didn’t create a company out if until 1985! He was at the forefront of innovation in the tequila distilling art from then on.
To remind you once again, this comparison was of their standard tequilas, and I highly recommend trying their next selections in their respective lineups.
Don Julio vs Patron FAQ
This is a general FAQ page about Don Julio vs Patron and tequila in general. Much of this is covered in the article above.
Is Don Julio better than Patron?
This ultimately comes down to individual preference. Don Julio is generally considered as higher quality with more complex flavors. Patron is a top shelf tequila that has garnered much attention from pop-culture and its strong marketing campaign that symbolizes its tequila with class and sophistication. it is not all marketing, though, as Patron is a quality tequila.
How much does Patron cost?
You can typically find a bottle (750ml) of Patron for right around $40 and the same goes for Don Julio.
How should I drink Don Julio and Patron?
There is no one way to drink Tequila. Many people sip on it, many take shots with salt and lime, and some prefer cocktails. In general, Patron is very popular as a shot in clubs and at parties. It can be taken with or without the salt and lime. Don Julio is probably known more as a sipper. The Blanco is also perfect for cocktails and margaritas. If you choose to go with the more expensive Don Julio (Reposado, Añejo, 1942, etc) it is meant to and should be sipped neat or with ice.