MEZCAL’S ELDER COUSIN
Raicilla is a spirit made from agaves distilled in remote areas only in Jalisco state. Raicilla is a mezcal – but not on the label, due to Mexican regulations. Raicilla goes way back in time; its distillation was introduced in the 1600s from the Spanish colonies in the Philippines, which results now in the common use of the “primitive” Philippine double-chamber clay still.
Both angustifolia (espadín) and rhodacantha are distilled in Oaxaca. Mezcals from the Jalisco varieties don’t taste like the Oaxacan ones: a bit more intense, among other things.
Less commercialized, raicillas seem more individuated than Oaxaca mezcals
Two differences between raicilla and Oaxacan mezcal: a lot of good raicilla distillers and their customers prefer a lower alcoholic strength than Oaxacans, some 40-42%, and many distillers use only one distillation, producing raicillas that are strikingly soft, rich, and vegetal. Try the beautiful La Venenosa Sierra del Tigre, a single distillation raicilla at 46.5%.
many raicilla distillers use above-ground adobe oven: no smoky flavor. About raicilla ovens
Detailed information on raicilla distillation on “Filipino” clay pot stills