There are not many liqueurs with a success story comparable to Ancho Reyes. The spicy liqueur from Puebla, Mexico, first hit the shelves in 2014.
There are also other ways to spice up cocktails, like using Jalapeño infused Tequila. Yet, with Ancho Reyes, you don't get that instant spice kick you'll get from a Jalapeño infusion. The chiles liqueur is a lot more complex in flavor and more subtle in spiciness. Its taste can be described almost as earthy with a quite slow-burning hotness.
What is Ancho Reyes?
Ancho Reyes is a brand producing Mexican chile liqueur in Puebla de Zaragoza, the capital city of the state Puebla in Mexico. Launched in 2013, Ancho Reyes produces their red, traditional Ancho Chile Liqueur based on a recipe from 1927. Lately, they added a green version, the Ancho Reyes Verde.
Both spicy liqueurs often are used as ingredients in spicy cocktails. Especially in Mexican classics like the Paloma or Margarita, Ancho Reyes and Ancho Reyes green add typical Mexican spice into drinks.
The Chiles in Ancho Reyes
Despite looking different, Ancho Reyes Verde and the original Ancho Reyes are both made from the same variety of chile - The Poblano chile. Like other chiles, they are first green and turn deep red once fully matured.
The sundried poblano chile peppers are also called ancho peppers. And the majority of the poblano peppers are harvested while green and unripe. But to get "proper" ancho peppers, part of the chiles are allowed to ripen and develop a deep red color.
The original version of Ancho Reyes uses the ripened chiles, which are sundried before further processing. For Ancho Reyes Verde, the Poblano chiles are premature and still green. Instead of drying in the sun, the green chiles get roasted before processing. But there are more differences in the production of the two types of Ancho Reyes.
How Ancho Reyes & Ancho Reyes Verde are made
As mentioned above, both expressions of Ancho Reyes are made of the same type of chile. The look and taste of these bottles are very different, though. In part, this is due to the varying degrees of maturity of the chiles. But it is also because the chiles are treated differently during the production process.
The red and ripe Poblano chiles are sundried for 15 to 20 days. That helps to unfold a rich, smoky, and super spicy taste. The green Poblanos, in turn, are roasted over a fire, which results in a less spicy but more fresh and crisp taste.
During the next step, both types of chiles are prepared for maceration. The green chiles are mashed, and the red chiles get cut by hand and scissors. Especially the slicing with the scissors is a very time-consuming process that ensures that only the best chiles end up in Ancho Reyes.
From maceration on, the processes are identical. After macerating for half a year in neutral cane spirit, the spirits are blended by Ancho's Maestra Maceradora. The Master Blender ensures consistency in taste, aroma, spice, and color.
The blended mixture rests for a short time to allow the flavors to combine. After that, the chile liqueurs are bottled and hand-labeled.
The taste of Ancho Reyes
If you've never tried Ancho Reyes, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the complexity of its aromas and flavors. On the nose, you can detect scents of dark chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, vanilla, and chiles.
The taste is an intriguing mix of smoky, spicy, and a pinch of sweetness. It is complex with lots of sweet elements like caramel and chocolate. The spicy heat from the ancho chiles cuts through and mixes with spicy cinnamon notes.