December 12, 2018

Ancho Reyes, the chile liqueur with some serious complexity

Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur

What is Ancho Reyes exactly?

Obviously it is a spicy chile liqueur, it says so right on the bottle, but what should you do with it? What does it taste like? And what is the difference between the regular version and the Verde?

To sum it up briefly, it is a chile liquor that is made from a cane sugar spirit that is macerated (essentially infused) with Poblano chiles either fresh or sun dried depending on which version you are talking about.

So what does Ancho Reyes taste like?

Well, for sure more complex than just “spicy”. The label on the back of the bottle describes it by saying:

“On the nose, warm dried chili, cinnamon, and cacao. In the mouth, a rich velvet warmth followed by sweet baking spices and a subtle acidity, finishing with a pleasant lingering smokey heat.”

Don’t think I could have said it much better myself seeing as they really hit all of the main points.

I would add a few notes though. When I first thought of a chile liquor, I imagined a sort of blow your head off spiciness based on my experience with infusing spirits with peppers.

Making infusions with chiles is not that uncommon and when you try it yourself it can be really easy to take it way over the edge into an almost undrinkable firewater, but that isn’t the case here.

Yes, it has a kick for sure, but it is not anything ridiculous.

The complexity of the other flavors makes it into something that can be sipped on a little ice as an aperitif, or mixed into all sorts of different cocktails to add sweetness and unique depth.

The green version brings a younger more green pepper flavor and does not have as much of the baking spice and smoke flavors that the original does. Probably preferable if you are mixing it with lighter spirits.

How is Ancho Reyes made?

There is a cool little video followed by the full process on the Ancho Reyes site, but I will sum things up for you.

Poblano chiles are grown on well rested volcanic soil and cared for by hand. It is clear that the brand is extremely proud of staying true to tradition and is focuses on doing everything naturally and by hand whenever possible.

The peppers are picked while they are still young and green if it is for the Ancho Reyes Verde, or the are left to mature for the classic version of the liqueur.

For the classic version, the chiles are laid to dry in the sun for up to 20 days to develop that signature smokey flavor of ancho chilies, whereas a portion of the green chiles are fire roasted to compliment their bright bold young flavor.

The green chilies are smashed, and the dried are hand cut, before being soaked separately in cane spirit.

The finished liqueur is then blended, rested, and bottled by hand.

Using Ancho Reyes in cocktail recipes.

Luckily the flavors seem to play nicely with all sorts of different components of drinks.

A natural pairing would be tequila with it also being from Mexico with some big strong flavors, but there are certainly more options beyond that.

It is great substituted into lots of classic cocktails for a spicy version.

An Old Fashioned, Margarita, Daiquiri or a Negroni can all be made by swapping out a little Ancho for all/some of the sweet ingredient of the drink.

It can pair really well with rum, whiskey, or any other barrel aged spirits that have deep dark flavors to them. But it can also go with bright flavors like lime, grapefruit, and mango, or you could play off some of its more subtle flavor notes by mixing it with chocolate, cinnamon, or cloves.

That is actually a great way to come up with new cocktail creations of your own. 

Whether you are using Ancho Reyes or any other type of alcohol you can start with it as a base, and add ingredients that highlight certain flavor notes of that base.

If you found this post useful go ahead and share it!

Let me know how you like to drink Ancho Reyes, or any recipes that you use it in.


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