Mezcal and raicilla. You’ve probably heard of mezcal, but what about raicilla? Raicilla is actually a type of mezcal, and Gabriela Moncada of Speciality Brands would like to introduce you to La Venenosa Raicilla and Derrumbes Mezcal.

La Venenosa Raicilla tasting
La Venenosa Raicilla tasting at Tequila and Mezcal Fest 2016

Raicilla is a drink that has been around for centuries, mostly as an illegal “moonshine”. It wasn’t until recently, that raicilla was given its own protection of a Denomination of Origin, similar to tequila and mezcal. Raicilla can only come from the Mexican state of Jalisco, which is where most of the tequila production takes place. However, as it does not conform to the tequila and mezcal regulations, it can’t be labeled tequila or mezcal.

La Venenosa Raicilla was the first to be produced under the new DO, and you’ll be able to enjoy some at Tequila and Mezcal Fest 2017. Chef Esteban Morales, founder of La Venenosa, curated the three varieties currently available in the U.K. Each represents a distinct region in Jalisco to highlight the differences in agave and terrior.

La Venenosa Raicilla seminar 2016
Gabriela Moncada and Tom Bartram presenting a seminar on La Venenosa Raicilla at Tequila and Mezcal Fest 2016.

La Venenosa Sierra comes from the mountain region Sierra Occidental de Jalisco, showcasing one of the most unique flavours of any spirit. You just need to experience it. La Venenosa Costa, from the coastal region of Jalisco, invites a sea salt influenced palate with smoked cedar. La Venenosa Sur comes from Southern Jalisco, and imparts an herbal taste with a dry finish. La Venenosa will return to Tequila and Mezcal Fest in 2017.

Mezcal has its own Denomination of Origin. It covers several states in Mexico and allows the use of different types of agave, unlike the one agave allowed for tequila. This is where Derrumbes mezcal comes in, showcasing mezcals from varying Mexican states using different production techniques.

Derrumbes Mezcal display 2016
Tom Bartram of Speciality Brands explaining Derrumbes Mezcal at Tequila and Mezcal Fest 2016

Mezcal is often called tequila’s smokier cousin. Tequila is technically a type of mezcal, but mezcal is just coming into its own. And it is growing in popularity and variety. Derrumbes Mezcal has three offerings in the U.K. to help you explore this great category. Derrumbes San Luis Potosi, from the central state of the same name, has salt notes with a hint of pineapple and spice. Michoacan is a blend of Cenizo and Cupreata agaves which gives it a sweet, earthy, smoke taste. The Oaxaca variation is mostly made from the popular espadin agave, and denotes flavours of full ripe fruit and smoke.

Mezcal and raicilla are two great Mexican spirit categories that are definitely worth exploring. And with the help of our amiga at Speciality Brands, Gaby, you’ll be able to savour both La Venenosa Raicilla and Derrumbes Mezcal at Tequila and Mezcal Fest 2017. Yet another reason to come join us this year at the original Tequila and Mezcal Fest in London. Get your tickets here. We look forward to seeing you there.

UPDATE 20 September:

We just got word that these three new mezcals (and raicilla) have just landed in the UK and will be showcased at Tequila and Mezcal Fest 2017. These new mezcals include Derrumbes Zacatecas, a mezcal made with the same blue agave used to make tequila, but processed in the way mezcal is produced, Derrumbes Durango is from the Northern state in Mexico using agave Cenizo, and La Venenose Puntas raicilla refers to the upper portions of the agave heart and the part of the distillate just above them. Coming in at a powerful 63% abv, it is surprisingly elegant and complex. Be one of the first to try them at this years Tequila and Mezcal Fest.

Derrumbes and La Venenosa new arrivals
New Derrumbes Mezcal Durango and Zacatecas and La Venenose Punta.