When Ancho Reyes launched in 2014, demand for the sweet and spicy pepper liqueur exceeded its initial limited release. “Ancho Reyes was very clever,” says Charlotte Voisey, director of brand advocacy for William Grant & Sons, which owns Ancho Reyes. “It came at a time when the spicy cocktail trend was emerging, and the biggest challenge with using spice in cocktails is consistency.” From the makers of Milagro Tequila and Iván Saldaña from Montelobos Mezcal, 80-proof Ancho Reyes immediately brought consistency to that trend. Bartenders latched on and haven’t let go since.
Three years later, it’s time for a new expression. Ancho Reyes Verde (anchoreyes.com) relies upon the young, green Poblano pepper, which, when left on the vine, becomes the dark, dusky ancho of the original formula. Despite being made from the same pepper in two different stages of its life, they offer two entirely different flavor profiles. “The Verde is more like blanco tequila, whereas the original would be more like añejo. [In both,] you can really taste the chili,” Voisey says.
You can also taste the terroir. As a brand, Ancho Reyes celebrates the heritage of the Puebla region of Mexico. “Jalisco has tequila, Oaxaca has mezcal. Puebla is deserving of its own representation,”
On the nose, the Verde offers savory aromas of plump green pepper flesh and fresh, chunky green salsa. On the palate, the attack is assertive and warming. Mid-palate, the sweet element hits home, deep and satisfying. And to round out the experience, the finish is all Las Vegas—a dry heat.
“I like to use Ancho Reyes Verde with lighter spirits such as gin, vodka, pisco, cachaça and blanco tequila,” Voisey says. She appreciates the “healthy tension” she finds between Hendrick’s Gin’s cooling cucumber nature and the Verde’s underlying heat. And if you have a heavy pouring hand, she advises that any citrus application would be an ideal match.
Ancho Reyes Verde launched in New York in the fall, and will roll out to the rest of the country in 2017, retailing for about $32.