Milagro means “miracle” in Spanish and it’s a miracle if you haven’t run into this tequila brand while browsing the duty free store at nearly any airport in North America. It’s also a minor miracle that a brand founded in just 1998 has become one of the most recognized, despite competing with the international conglomerates that own brands like Cuervo, Sauza, and Don Julio.
I first tried Milagro Tequila on one of my first trips to Mexico nearly 20 years ago, when the brand was just starting to pop up in airport shops throughout Latin America. I found it odd that I wouldn’t see their bottles in a regular supermarket store in Mexico-just in the U.S. or in airports-and I hadn’t seen an ad or read a review anywhere.
At the end of the ’00s when I first covered the tequila here, Milagro’s Flash-built website maintained an air of mystery–all images and no explanation. The contact page listed only a single e-mail address, with no phone number or physical location. At the time I wondered, “Is Dr. No running this enterprise, or is it the front business for a drug cartel?” Now you can learn more about them on their much-improved site.
There’s still no info on where this brand is produced, the only address for their owner/distributor William Grant and Sons in NYC and England. One thing you’ll learn though is that their master distiller, Pedro Juarez, has been making tequila for 35 years. He worked for one of those big corporate distillers before and got tired of all the cost controls. He just wanted to make good tequila and the two Mexico City founder friends that hired him provided much more creative control.
Milagro Tequila Tasting Notes
Milagro tequila is prepared in a traditional manner, the agave fruit slow-roasted in brick ovens for 36 hours. The company then uses triple distillation in copper pot stills and column stills. The aged versions go into American and French oak barrels. For the regular version, the reposado is in barrels for 3 – 6 months, the anejo a blend of versions aged 14 to 24 months.
All that sounds good, but the proof is in the product, of course. Fortunately, I can say this is a complex, well-balanced tequila that I’d be happy to serve at my house anytime. The silver versions are fruity and smooth enough to drink neat if you’re a fan of unadulterated tequila from the still, but I prefer to use that version to make a nice cocktail. (The Barrel Reserve version is kind of a cheat: it gets 30 days in oak barrels to mellow it out a little.)
The reposado one can hold its own with many premium brands in a taste test, though it’s been a few years since they pulled in any medals in competition. Both it and the more oak-forward aÃ±ejo hit all the right notes of citrus, vanilla, and fruit, with a nice finish at the end. Like I said, it’s hard to figure out where these guys and their agave farms are located from their site or social media, and there’s no press page, but from the herbal and floral hints in their tequila, I’m guessing it’s somewhere in the highlands of Jalisco, Los Altos.
Despite the well-rounded showing in my taste tests 10 years apart, from a price-to-payoff standpoint, this tequila is a bargain. In many duty-free stores, you can get the blanco version for around 20 bucks and the reposado version is generally $25 to $30. You’ll only pay slightly more in a regular liquor store in most states unless you step up to the aÃ±ejo version, which can top $45. Even that is at the low end of U.S. prices for a well-aged tequila though, so this is a good deal all-around. I’d rate their standard bottles as some of the best values on the shelf.
The premium Barrel Reserve line is a slight step up in quality. As usual, that is only worth it if you’re going to drink it neat, not in cocktails. As in most of these upgrades, you’re paying for the bottle as much as what’s in it.
Packaging and Pricing for Milagro Tequila
Unfortunately, that bottle is not as fancy as it used to be. A decade ago these “Barrel Reserve” bottles had glass shaped like an agave plant on the base of the bottle inside. It was a cool effect and looked really impressive. Alas, that was too expensive to justify, apparently. Now the plant is just embossed on the outside of the bottle.
In all fairness though, they clearly did that to bring the price down because they passed the savings on to consumers. That fancier bottle used to retail for about $20 more than it does now, currently topping out at around $70 for the silver or reposado versions. I feel like they should have left the glass agave in for the anejo version though considering the price: it’s usually $110 or more for this boxed version, which puts it in the range of some superior aged tequila versions like Don Julio 1942 and Reserva del la Familia in many stores.
I’m not going to tell you that Milagro tequila will blow you away and one sip will be a transformative experience. The reposado I bought and tried ten years apart, however, was more than good. It is good enough to sip on its own and it made a killer margarita or paloma. It’s a bit sweeter and more flowery than the norm, with a triple-distilled smoothness that would appeal to those not accustomed to drinking this spirit neat.
If you’re looking for tequila that will cover the basics for a good price, Milagro is good enough and if you are trying to grab a gift for someone, the bottle is pretty enough to make it look much more expensive than it is.
For a step up in price to a C-note or so though, there are better options out there than their highest-priced Barrel Reserve version unless you find a 3-for-2 deal at a duty-free shop. Outside of gift purchases and all-inclusive resort shots, stick with the regular version for a great bang for the buck. Unless you’re buying for a true tequila connoisseur with a super-sensitive palate, regular Milagro is a good bet.
Learn more about the tequila-making process in this story from our archives: Tequila Gets Ready for its Close-up in Jalisco