Drinks With... is an Alcademics category in which I share what I've learned when meeting with industry notables.
This July I had a group dinner and drinks at Tres Agaves with Gaston Martinez of Milagro Tequila. Milagro has two lines of tequila- a "core" and "select" line. I've always liked Milagro as a good-priced mixing tequila but had never tried the reserve line.
Milagro is triple-distilled. Traditionally when we talk about 100% agave tequila, we think of double-pot-distilled, but lately more and more brands have been releasing triple distilled products. But the more you distill, the more flavor you take out and the more your tequila tastes like vodka, and then vodka put into wood in the case of aged tequilas. That's the danger of making it too "clean."
In the case of Milagro they twice distill in pot stills, then do a third distillation in a small rectifying column, according to Martinez. The agave is estate grown and is cooked in traditional ovens for around 72 hours, as opposed to faster autoclaves. The distillery is located in Tepatitlan in the Highlands of Jalisco.
The main difference between the two lines of Milagro is the wood used to age the spirit. The core line uses ex-bourbon barrels and the select line uses new French oak. According to Martinez, the difference in flavor is:
Ex-Bourbon American oak barrels: Caramel and black pepper notes.
New French oak barrels: Vanilla and white pepper notes.
Though silver (blanco) tequila doesn't need to be aged at all, the regular silver is rested for 30 days in stainless steel. The select silver gets 35-45 days in oak. The reposado of both lines takes on chocolately notes, with the select being really rich in flavor- not like the spicy repo's I'm used to. The delicious select anejo is actually an extra-anejo (aged over three years), and priced at $90-$100, it is less expensive than most other extra-anejos.
Martinez also shared a cocktail trick. In making hot pepper infusions, he found that instead of infusing hot peppers into the tequila, if you infuse it into the citrus the acid helps absorb the pepper heat much faster- I believe in a few hours as opposed to overnight.