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William Grant Sees On-Premise Promise For Upstart Mexican Duo

December 30, 2015

Ancho Reyes chile liqueur and Montelobos mezcal, two Mexican craft spirits brands within the William Grant & Sons portfolio, are showing early promise as they target the on-premise cocktail segment.

Montelobos ($40) is produced in Matatlan in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, while Ancho Reyes ($34 a 750-ml.) is made in Puebla. Iván Saldaña, who created Montelobos and oversees production, tells SND that while 99% of mezcal consumption in the domestic Mexican market is neat, Montelobos is making inroads in the U.S. via the mixology community. “Cocktails are the first point of contact with mezcal for consumers in the U.S.,” he says, noting that mezcal variations on the Negroni, Margarita and Paloma are garnering interest.

Currently, Montelobos is being produced at a clip of about 800 liters of high-proof spirit a week before being bottled at its final 43.2% abv. Looking ahead, the plan is to add enough capacity to have two agave roasts a week rather than one, roughly doubling output.

As mezcals like Montelobos stand to benefit from the trend toward smokier taste profiles in spirits, portfoliomate Ancho Reyes, a liqueur made from ancho chiles, is proliferating in mixology circles that have recently been catering to consumer thirst for spicy drinks options. Based on a 1920s recipe, Ancho Reyes is 40% abv, allowing it to stand on its own as a cocktail base, Saldaña says, as well as be used as a modifier.

“The reaction has been unbelievable. We’re making more of Ancho than of Montelobos, and we see it increasing further,” says Saldaña. The two spirits are also complementary, he adds, and can be combined in equal proportion to create a serve called the 50/50, offering a smoky-spicy-sweet profile.

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