What’s the difference between raicilla and tequila?

Answered by John Watkins

The difference between raicilla and lies in several key aspects, starting with the plant itself. While tequila is made from the blue agave plant, raicilla is made from a different species called Agave Inaequidens, which is endemic to the state of Jalisco in Mexico. This unique plant gives raicilla its distinct flavor profile and character.

Another notable difference is the way in which the two are produced. Tequila is typically made from agave plants that have been propagated through cloning, ensuring consistency in flavor and quality. On the other hand, raicilla is developed through the use of seeds, which can result in variations in taste and aroma. This adds an element of unpredictability to the production process, making each batch of raicilla truly unique.

The fermentation process also sets raicilla apart from tequila. After the agave hearts, known as piñas, are harvested and processed, distilled is added to initiate fermentation. This mixture is then left to ferment for a period of 6 to 15 days, allowing the sugars in the agave to convert into . This fermentation period can vary depending on the desired flavor profile and strength of the final product.

Once fermentation is complete, the liquid is distilled to remove impurities and enhance the flavors. Raicilla is typically double distilled, which means it goes through the distillation process twice. This helps to refine the spirit and create a smoother, more complex taste.

In terms of flavor, raicilla is often described as having a more earthy and herbal profile compared to tequila. It can exhibit notes of citrus, pepper, and even hints of smoke, depending on the specific production methods and aging techniques used.

Aging is another area where raicilla and tequila differ. While tequila is often aged in oak , giving it a rich and mellow character, raicilla is traditionally aged in glass or clay containers. This allows the spirit to maintain its original flavors and showcase the unique characteristics of the agave plant.

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in raicilla, with producers exploring different aging methods and experimenting with flavors. This has led to a greater diversity of raicilla styles, further highlighting its distinctiveness compared to tequila.

The main differences between raicilla and tequila can be attributed to the specific agave plant used, the production techniques employed, and the unique flavors and characteristics that result from these factors. Exploring both spirits can provide a fascinating journey into the rich and diverse world of Mexican agave spirits.