We’ve reviewed the “standard” version of Milagro’s anejo tequila, and it was considered it a solid buy. But there’s a slightly more expensive version available as well: the Barrel Reserve. Aged in two different kinds of barrels and selected for its quality, this should (in theory) be among the best that the distillery can produce.
Milagro Tequila was born from a love of the arts community in Mexico City, Mexico. Co-founders Danny Schneeweiss and Moy Guindi decided to start a tequila company that would compliment the vibrancy of the city’s arts scene, with the logo on the bottle being in the same style as the local street art.
In 2007, 30% of the company was sold to the British distillery company William Grant & Sons, which also owns a number of other American brands in addition to their Monkey Shoulder and Balvenie scotch whisky lines. With the help of WG&S, Milagro continued to grow the brand, reportedly becoming the 5th most popular brand of tequila in the United States.
Thirteen years later, in October 2020, WG&S decided to double down on their bet, purchasing a brand new tequila distillery in Jalisco, Mexico. Production has reportedly moved to this new facility moving forward.
All of the tequilas produced by Milagro use 100% blue agave plants as the source of their spirits. Those agave plants are harvested, shaved of their leaves, and then roasted for 36 hours in a hand-built brick kiln to break down the fibrous material. The traditional method would then have these roasted plants crushed, but Milagro uses the more modern shredding process to extract the sugary liquid from the cores of the plant.
That sugary liquid is then fermented to convert the sugar into alcohol, and that alcoholic mixture is then distilled in both a pot and column still to create the raw spirit. The pot still is the traditional choice, usually creating a more flavorful product, albeit at the expense of additional time and effort. A column still makes the process much quicker, but tends to strip out some of the lighter or more vibrant flavors.
Once the tequila has been produced, that raw spirit is then placed into a mixture of American and French oak barrels to age for a period of between 18 and 24 months for this anejo barrel reserve version.
This is a nicely designed bottle.
Overall, it isn’t a huge departure from the normal design. It looks very much like any number of other craft spirits bottles, with a bulbous round body, rounded shoulder, and medium length neck. The bottle is capped off with a flared wood stopper.
What makes this really great is the etching on the bottle. Instead of creating some monstrosity of a label and slapping it on the glass, what they did instead was etch a stylized image of an agave plant onto the glass. Not only does this add a tactile aspect to the packaging, but it adds character without obscuring the color of the spirit inside. You are still seeing what you paid for, which is a great way to go in my opinion.
The required label information is printed on a small label at the bottom of the bottle.
The spirit is a pale straw color, very similar to the color of the standard anejo. But the aroma here is a dead giveaway that there’s something different. The aroma is roughly similar in its individual components, but better saturated than the other version. I still get that agave sweetness up front, but the herbal note is somewhat diminished and replaced by caramel. There’s a touch of vanilla bringing up the rear, and then in this version I can actually smell that black pepper spice that I only tasted before.
Taking a sip, this is smooth and delicious. I get many of the same notes as I smelled up front — agave sweetness, some herbal aspects, the caramel and vanilla — but there’s also something else here. I think there’s a bit of citrus fruit, adding just a touch of acidity and another layer of complexity. And then, as usual, that black pepper spice brings up the rear.
There was a distinct difference in the flavor profile compared to the standard expression of this anejo tequila, but I think the addition of some ice has leveled things out. (Which makes sense — the differentiating factor was the aging process, and most of those flavors tend to drop out when a bit of ice is added leaving only the boldest and most intrinsic flavors behind.)
Instead of agave sweetness up front, the herbal notes are now the dominant flavor, making it seem like a bit on the “dry” side of a spirit and just a touch bitter if I’m honest. Following not far behind are the barrel based flavors, specifically the caramel and vanilla. And the black pepper spice makes an appearance, as well. All the components are present… but not quite as vibrant as originally seen.
I’m not afraid to say it — this is great.
The key to a good Margarita is to perfectly balance and fit in with the lime juice and the Cointreau, which is a tough challenge given how strong and unique those flavors can be. In this case, though, not only does the tequila play matchmaker perfectly, but it actually adds a depth and richness that compliments the other flavors while elevating it all to the next level.
The question of the day is whether this is worth the ~$10 per bottle price increase over the standard anejo from Milagro. And I absolutely think it met that bar and then some. There’s a depth and saturation to these flavors that is delicious, and really shines through in the margarita (as well as a Tequila Tom Collins if you’d like to give that a shot). I don’t think this is the best anejo we’ve ever tasted, but it is definitely up there and worthy of a spot on your liquor shelf.
| Milagro Anejo Barrel Reserve Tequila|
Produced By: MilagroProduction Location: Jalisco, Mexico
Classification: Anejo Tequila
Aging: No Age Statement (NAS)
Proof: 40% ABV
Price: $49.99 / 750 ml
Product Website: Product Website
Overall Rating: 4/5
More than just a pretty bottle, there’s some substance to this flash.