I spent the better part of this week shadowing the Milagro Tequila ambassador as he made his way around our village, spreading the good word about tequila and the upcoming Margarita Meltdown which we both are sponsors. JP de Loera is an affable fellow who was probably born for this position, but in our Q&A we ask how one becomes ambassador. In our notes I was to ask him about diplomatic immunity, but through the fog of many margaritas I failed to ask that important question.
I did witness the good ambassador offer to buy a group of elderly women shots of tequila. The Oak Cliff Business Women’s Club was more than pleased to oblige his valiant offer. Although JP acknowledged that shooting good tequila was probably not the best use of his product, it was fun none the less. And isn’t that what it is all about?
You will have a chance to meet JP at the upcoming Margarita Meltdown this Memorial Day weekend, May 24, 2013.
What is a tequila ambassador?
Basically I get to cover one of the most important tequila states, not only in the country, but the world. We could argue that Texas could be its own country when it comes to tequila consumption. So my mission is to train both the industry and consumers as to what good tequila is. I like to take a category wide approach to how good tequila should be made and appreciated. So I am the face of Milagro, and promote the tequila whenever and wherever possible.
What separates Milagro from other tequilas?
I don’t like the connotations that Milagro is the very best. It is certainly unique. I have been part of this industry since 2008. What is unique to Milagro is that it is a Highland tequila.
What does that mean?
A Highland tequila means that we use 100% agave from the Highlands. It tends to be sweeter and more floral than tequilas from the tequila valley, which tend to be more vegetal and earthy. Think about a Cabernet wine from the new world versus the old world. Using the same grape from a different terrior produces different results.
But every step of handling the agave is crucial. You know, I can tell you my tequila is 100% agave but that doesn’t mean much. What if I use an immature agave, or I don’t harvest them well, or I overcook or undercook them? Or if I use brewer’s yeast? It is 100% agave, but are you going to want to drink that?
Would you drink a tequila that was not 100% agave?
Like I said, I am objective. Many people brush off tequila that is not 100% agave as something bad. But imagine taking 51% agave sugars, blend in fermentation other sources of sugar such as molasses or sugar cane, you could arguably make a very good tequila. That being said, if it is a good tequila, always go 100% agave.
Tell me about the fermentation process.
Milagro uses a unique triple distillation method. We use two stainless steel pod stills with copper coils, and then we pass it to a third column. The columns are traditionally very tall, but ours are small so it polishes the tequila so it gives a nice shine and agave forward taste. After eight years in the sun, we want it to taste like that.
Ian Reilly at Bowl and Barrel with his Milagro Margaritas
What is the Milagro flavor profile.
I don’t like using the word smooth; that is a word that is overused. My car gives a smooth ride, the chocolate has a smooth texture. Tequila should have loads of flavor and be sippable. If you do not like feeling the warmth going down you should drink it with water or a juice, but it is a spirit. It should have character and personality, but go down easy while retaining all that flavor.
By altering one step of the production process we are able to showcase the flavor of the tequila.
Describe the line of tequilas produced by Milagro.
We have the core lines of Silver, Reposado and Anejo. Then we have the Select Barrel. The difference is our Silver is aged 30 to 40 days, our Reposado and Anejo are aged in ex-bourbon white oak barrels, but also in French oak barrels.
The Silver is for those who appreciate a clear spirit such as a vodka or gin. The Silver is very heavy on the agave, citrus and floral. Peppery and spicy, certainly. The Reposado has a minimum of two months of aging, and the anejo is aged at least a year. Our Select Barrel is aged much longer. The Reposado is probably aged 10 months. This is where the art of aging comes in to play much like a Scotch or Whiskey company. It is ready when it is ready. Our anejo Select is aged maybe 18 months, much longer than the required one year.
Juggling at Sunset Lounge in Dallas
Where did you learn to juggle?
I learned how to juggle in the 4th grade. We just moved to the United States and I remembered all the street performers in Mexico. Some were jugglers, some ate fire. I wanted to juggle. When we moved to San Antonio I had a PE class. I never knew that running around and playing could be a class. They told us they were going to teach us how to juggle, and I was excited. But then they gave us handkerchiefs to toss around. But now I can juggle most anything, but only three at a time.
What is your favorite Milagro cocktail?
I am a big fan of the Nigroni. I used to switch out the gin for our Silver, but I was once at The Usual in Fort Worth and Austin the bartender said no, try it with the Reposado. It was phenomenal.