Raicilla, Sotol, & Churique

Raicilla is a spirit made in Jalisco state from agaves distilled in remote areas.  Raicilla is a mezcal – but not on the label, due to Mexican regulations.  Raicilleros use at least nine kinds of agave, all of them wild, some with several differing local varieties.  Raicilla goes way back in time; its distillation was introduced in the 1600s from the Spanish colonies in the Philippines, which resulted in the common use of the primitive Filipino double-chamber clay still.

BALAM     LAS PERLAS de JALISCO     MEXICAT     Sotol     Churique    


BALAM

From Xavier Villegran, whose family has been involved with mezcal for three generations.  His main focus is Raicilla de Costa, distilled in El Tuito on the mountainous Cabo Corientes peninsula south of Puerto Vallarta, where  raicillero Rosalio Rodriquez has substantial hillside plantings of chico aquilar (angustifolia).  Balam also produces mezcal, sotol, and the rare churique.


  • BALAM Destilado de Agave Sierra del Tigre

    Ancestral distillation on a Filipino still by legendary Chuy Lapian in Las Agujas (pop. 48) at 5100 ft in the Sierra del Tigre, southwest of Guadalajara. Lapian uses a masonry (brick) above-ground oven to roast wild agave inaequidens. The 23-day fermentation and single distillation to high alcohol of a single 400-bottle batch yields a raicilla of unreal focus and lactic complexity. It's BIG. Lapian has such contempt for modern production methods that he won't call his distillate raicilla. Buy this one.

    750 ml / 43.8% abv

    $120.00

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  • BALAM Raicilla de Costa

    From Rosalio Rodriguez in El Tuito in the mountains of Cabo Corriente. Rodriguez distills chico aguiar (agave angustifolia) and agave rhodacantha, both wild and grown in his own fields. Spicy and nicely vegetal.

    750 ml / 47% abv

    $75.00

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  • BALAM Raicilla Del Llano

    From Juan Jesús Ariaz Lugo in San Gabriel, on the central plateau SW of Guadalajara. Agave angustifolia, the familiar espadín cultivated in Oaxaca, but tasting far more fruity and earthen, is very accessible at the lower abv. preferred by many raicilla distillers. Nicely round.

    750 ml / 40% abv

    $75.00

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  • BALAM Raicilla Extra Anejo

    Every year since 2012, Rosalio has aged one barrel of rhodacantha for a year, then added it to a tank. In 2019, he filled a small barrel with the aged assemblage for a month of integration and filled 274 bottles. Rich, mellow, and deep. Truly one of a kind.

    750 ml / 43% abv

    $92.00

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  • BALAM Raicilla Madurado de La Costa

    Since 2004, Rosalio Rodriguez in El Tuito in Cabo Corriente south of Puerto Escondido, has maintained a solera of agave rhodacantha, every year since adding a portion of that year's distillation.

    750 ml / 47.7% abv

    $96.00

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  • BALAM Raicilla Sierra

    From Benito Salcedo Rios in El Mosco (pop. 148), at 3200 feet in the Sierra Madre south of Mascota. Benito is an agronomist, and you can taste his feel for the plant: lechuguilla (agave Maximiliana), an agave he is cultivating for sustainability. Focused and very cleanly distilled.  

    750 ml / 46% abv

    $75.00

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LAS PERLAS de JALISCO

Raicilla Las Perlas comes from Nikhil Bahadur and 5th-generation raicillero Santigo Diaz Ramos, whom Nikhil encountered while doing business in Tequila.  The taberna is near the Diaz Ramos hacienda in the small pueblo of Las Guasimos (pop. 42), located inland from the Pacific coast on the Cabo Corrientes peninsula, south of Puerto Vallarta.  The agaves are roasted in an above-ground oven.


  • LAS PERLAS Raicilla de Jalisco Chico Aguiar

    Single small batch distilled from wild chico aguiar, usually listed as rhodacantha but more likely an unclassified hybrid of rhodacantha and wild angustifolia. The pinas are small. Each bottle represents 21 pounds of agave. Focused flavors, herbaceous fruit, a sweet mineral spiciness. Very well made. Scarce.

    750 ml / 48% abv

    $96.00

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  • LAS PERLAS Raicilla de Jalisco

    The most carefully made agave spirit we know of: 3-4week fermentation. The condensing chamber of the copper still is a hollow tree trunk, lending a soft moistness to the spirit. Wild and semi-wild agave angustifolia and rhodacantha harvested, distilled, and bottled one batch at a time: about 650 bottles. Fresh, full-bodied, easy to drink. Scarce.  

    750 ml / 44% abv

    $96.00

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MEXICAT

Mexicat is the brainchild of Jorge Alvarez, who discovered raicilla while working in the tequila industry.  He sees raicilla as the highest form of spirits distilled from agave.  He helps support a massive sustainability project in the Sierra.

There is more.  Each bottle has a beaded cat face, an individual handmade creation of a Huichol artist.  It takes a full day to make three cat faces.  Preserving traditional artisanal craftsmanship is a deliberate Mexicat goal, both by sponsoring a craft agave spirit and by providing a livelihood to Huichol artisans.


  • Mexicat 3pk Taster

    MEXICAT 3-Pack Tasting Sampler

    Affordably explore Mexicat Raicilla Sierra, Masparillo, and Sotol Artesanal in a 3 bottle taster pack. Truly excellent distillates, each from a single small batch, at very good prices. Each bottle is enough for two 1.7 oz pours. Packaged in a small wood crate; includes detailed educational cards. 3 x 100ML bottles.

    3x100 ml / Var% abv

    $36.00

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  • MEXICAT Destilado de Agave Ancestral

    The very rare agave Salmiana crassispina distilled in a clay Filipino still by Maria de la Luz Martinez Ramos in remote Mexquital, San Luis Potosí. The oldest methods we have encountered: squeezing the crushed agaves by twisting them in a hammock, fermenting with pulque yeast. Simply the most profound agave spirit we have tasted. DO NOT MISS THIS. 92 bottles only.

    750 ml / 48% abv

    $180.00

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  • MEXICAT Rare Agave Spirit (Gold): Masparillo

    From Don Lupe Castro in Mezquital de Oro, Zacatecas. A variant of agave Maximiliana, Masparillo is a small wild agave growing at high altitudes on thin soils. Don Lupe’s stone-enclosed stills bring out a clean, focused, floral, and mineral spirit. Masparillo is uncommon. This is good stuff.

    750 ml / 40% abv

    $72.00

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  • MEXICAT Rare Agave Spirit (Silver): Manso

    From Don Lupe Castro in Mezquital de Oro, Zacatecas, close to tequila territory. Manso (agave salmiana) is a cultivated agave. Extremely well distilled: softly rich, round, citric, and spicy. Amazing price for the quality.

    750 ml / 40% abv

    $54.00

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  • MEXICAT Raicilla Sierra

    Every bottle bears an individual hand-made Huichol bead cat mask; people collect them. From Mascota in the Sierra Madre Occidental, double-distilled by 4th-generation José and Benito Salceda, agronomist brothers and raicilla pioneers deeply engaged in a large sustainability project cultivating agave Maximiliana (called lechuguilla). Flavorful and soft. The normal raicilla 40% abv nicely balances the intensity of the wild Maximiliana.

    750 ml / 40% abv

    $60.00

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Sotol

SOTOL is distilled from the desert plant dasylirion wheeleri (Sotol is its Spanish name) in Durango and Chihuahua, using the same artisanal methods as for mezcal.  The piña, the central core, is small and dense, not easy to harvest and prepare for distillation:  the yield: one bottle per plant.


  • BALAM Sotol Desierto

    Dasylirion Wheeleri distilled by Enrique Valencia in the pueblo of Coyame at 4000 ft in the high Sonoran desert of Chihuahua. Hand-milled. Sotol in a cold dry climate yields intensity with plenty of minerality; a touch of sweetness.

    750 ml / 48% abv

    $75.00

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  • BALAM Sotol Durango

    Dasylirion Wheeleri distilled Jesús Román in Peñon Blanco at 5200 feet in Durango. Hand-milled. Sotol from the forested mountains is softer and fruitier. Long complex finish.

    750 ml / 47% abv

    $75.00

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  • MEXICAT Sotol Artesanal

    Dasylirion Wheeleri from 4th and 5th generation distillers Norma & Bienvenido Fernandez in Madera at 6500 feet in the mountains of Western Chihuahua. Smoky, earthy, but very clean; fruity and intense; long finish: best sotol we have tasted.

    750 ml / 42% abv

    $66.00

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  • SOTOL Tasting Pack

    The folks at The Crafty Cask featured our BALAM Sotol Desierto  &  MEXICAT Sotol Artesanal at their Virtual Sotol Tasting on July 30th. Whether you attended or not, we've put together this tasting pack to introduce you to the expressions that were poured during the event. Individual bottles also available.

    750 ml

    $138.00

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Churique

CHURIQUE is distilled from the small and rare agave lechugilla, a high-desert cousin of agave potatorum (the agave of mezcal tobala). It can take up to 30 years to mature.


  • BALAM Churique

    An unclassified wild agave, from the Chihuahuan desert, locally called lechuguilla, distilled by Bienvenido Hernandez in Madera at 6500 feet in Chihuahua. Hand-milled. Agave distillates from tough environments are intense: so is churique. Unique, mineral (chalky), appealingly slightly sour finish.

    750 ml / 47% abv

    $75.00

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CADDELL & WILLIAMS – Drink Real

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