22 | OCT | 2019
Raicilla obtains designation of origin
Different kinds of raicilla, a distillate of agave – Photo: EFE/IMPI

Raicilla obtains designation of origin

11/07/2019
18:04
Carlos Borboa
Mexico City
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This Mexican spirit drink is a distillate of agave with two types “Raicilla de la Costa” and “Raicilla de la Sierra”

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The day has come! Finally, after four years of wait, the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) released the “Raicilla” General Statement of Protection of the Designation of Origin, devoted to safeguard local identity, productive traditions, and originality of this iconic distillate of agave. Yes, dear reader, this is the Mexican sixth spirit drink that obtains such designation, only after tequila, mezcal, sotol, bacanora, and charanda.

After sharing the achievement on social media, there were several questions surrounding this distillate; “What is it? How is it made? How does it taste like? How do you drink it?… Let’s celebrate the occasion answering these inquiries.

Raicilla is the beverage obtained from the distillation of fermented juices extracted from ripe heads of the agaves A. maximiliana Baker, A. inaequidens Koch, A. valenciana, A. angustifolia Haw, and A. rhodacantha, among others (except Agave tequilana Weber, Blue variety) cooked and/or charred and harvested in the territory included by the designation of origin of the same name: 16 municipalities of Jalisco, Mexico (Atengo, Chiquilistlán, Juchitlán, Tecolotlán, Tenamaxtlán, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo Corrientes, Tomatlán, Atenguillo, Ayutla, Cuautla, Guachinango, Mascota, Mixtlán, San Sebastián del Oeste and Talpa de Allende), and one from Nayarit (Bahía de Banderas).

In a generic way, it is possible to differentiate two big typologies, distinguished by geographic region and the raw materials used for its manufacture: the “Raicilla de la Costa,” made with agaves angustifolia Haw and rhodacantha, and the “Raicilla de la Sierra,” made of agaves maximiliana Baker, inaequidens Koch and valenciana.

As in many other expressions of the agave, the final scents and flavors of the raicilla are deeply linked to the origin of their raw materials, the yeasts employed during the fermentation, the alcoholic content, and even the know-how of the Master Raicilla makers. Thus, the sensory nuances go from the sweet cooked agave with velvety texture, to the intense smoked with strong tones of citrus, coconut and nuts. It is also true that, unlike its counterpart from the “Sierra”, the “Raicilla de la Costa” has more dominant smoked nuances, resulting from its particular cooking method in stone oven.

Categories and types. Just like mezcal, raicilla can be classified as “Raicilla,” “Artisanal Raicilla,” and “Ancestral Raicilla” depending on the tools and techniques used for its elaboration. After the distillation, it can also be matured in glass or it can go through the influence of wood to adopt all kinds of chromatic, aromatic, and gustatory nuances.

“And, Carlos, how should I drink it?” I would say that by itself, like any other high-quality spirit drink. The local tradition, however, also suggests its inclusion in complex and colorful cocktails of pineapple, hibiscus, myrtle, and other tropical fruits.
 

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