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Raicilla, Mezcal, Pox Mexican Spirits

Raicilla, Mezcal, Pox Mexican Spirits

Not all Tequila is or, or bad! Read more about the different varieties produced and try them all.

On a recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, we came across a great little spot for tasting all kinds of Mexican Spirits. Everyone knows Tequila. They might not know good tequila, but they know Tequila. Puerto Vallarta is in the state of Jalisco and all of our bartending students know that’s exactly where tequila must come from.

We also point out what different spirits are made from. Tequila has to be made from the sugars of Blue Agave (Tequilana Weber)… at least 51% of them anyways. Better tequilas are certain to use only sugars from Blue Agave but some brands will cheat a little to save some of those raw material costs. Blue Agave takes 8-10 years to mature, which makes it a very expensive source of sugars for making alcohol!

Find a Tequila You Like!

Not all tequila is good, or bad. It’s really a matter of finding which one is right for you. We went to a few different tasting places. There are a few little shops offering ‘free tastings’. Free is hard to pass up! The skilled salesperson knows a little tequila in people will have them buying a bottle they wouldn’t normally buy.

Just like many hand crafted items you might find at your local Christmas markets, touristy spots in Mexico will have ‘hand crafted’ tequilas ready for you to taste and hopefully buy. Tequila by law is only allowed to have up to 1% of additives and can only be ‘abocado’… however abocado can be a combination of things. Colour, Oak Flavouring, Glycerin, and Sugar can make up this ‘abocado’ and various amounts might be added to ‘improve’ the overall character of a spirit.

Not all Mezcal is Smoky

Mezcal has been making inroads into Canada for a few years now. Most simply described as a beautiful marriage of tequila and bacon, mezcal can be simple in expression or very complex. Mexico implemented new laws to protect the production of mezcal for producers that state their product as artisanal or ancestral. Mezcal can vary so much between different brands (as can Tequila) that you really could spend a lifetime studying and tasting each to appreciate the nuanced differences. There is much more to Mexican spirits for everyone to explore.

Anyone heard of Pechuga?

Do we need to talk about Pechuga? For any of you Mezcal fans out there, you can level up by finding and tasting a Pechuga. Here we have a Mezcal that has been distilled with meat hanging in the still. Yes, MEAT! Flavours vary from producer to producer, but the general consensus is a ‘gamey’ or ‘savoury’ set of flavours are imparted in the bottled spirit. While at El Tasting Room we had a Pechuga from Don Mateo. Three different meats in this mezcal including turkey, deer and iguana. We put this one next to a standard well Mezcal and the complexity was off the charts. Smokey, meaty, savoury, earthy… maybe not one for the vegans out there.

What is Raicilla?

We’ve known of Raicilla for a bit now. Raicilla also has to be made in the state of Jalisco, but uses different agave plants for the sugar source. As with any spirit, so much of the final product in the bottle comes down to how that master distiller. Raicilla is a traditional Mexican spirit made from the distillation of the fermented juice of the agave plant.

Raicilla is often referred to as a “wild” or “secret” spirit because it was produced illegally for many years. It was only recently recognized by the Mexican government as a legitimate type of mezcal. Unlike tequila, which is made exclusively from the blue Weber agave plant, raicilla can be made from a variety of agave species, including the more rare and hard-to-find agave maximiliana.

The production process for raicilla is similar to that of other mezcal varieties. The agave plants are harvested and their leaves are removed. The heart of the plant (the piña) is roasted in an underground oven to release the juice. The juice is then fermented, often with wild yeast, and distilled in copper or clay stills.

Raicilla has a strong, smoky flavor that is characteristic of mezcal. Raicilla is often less refined than other types of mezcal. It is usually bottled at a higher proof than tequila, ranging from 40-55% ABV. Raicilla can be enjoyed on its own, or mixed into cocktails like the paloma or margarita.

Overall, raicilla is a unique and flavorful spirit that is gaining popularity in the cocktail world. Its traditional production methods and varied agave sources make it a fascinating spirit to explore for mezcal enthusiasts and curious drinkers alike.

There’s Bacanora too!

Bacanora is a type of Mexican agave spirit produced in the state of Sonora, which is located in the northwestern part of Mexico. It is made from the distilled juice of the agave Pacifica, a specific species of agave that is native to the Sonoran Desert.

Bacanora is deeply rooted in the cultural traditions of the Sonoran region of Mexico, and its production and consumption are closely tied to local celebrations and customs. The production and distribution of bacanora were once illegal in Mexico, but the spirit was legalized in 1992, and it has since become a point of pride for the people of Sonora.

The production process for bacanora is similar to that of other agave spirits such as tequila and mezcal. The agave plants are harvested, their leaves are removed, and the core of the plant (the piña) is cooked in an underground oven or steam-cooked in an autoclave to convert the starches into sugars. The cooked piñas are then crushed and the resulting juice is fermented with water and wild yeasts. After fermentation, the juice is distilled in copper or stainless steel stills to create the finished spirit.

Bacanora has a complex flavor profile that is characterized by notes of smoke, earth, and agave. It is often compared to mezcal, but it is generally smoother and less smoky. Bacanora can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or mixed into cocktails, and it is gaining popularity as a premium craft spirit both in Mexico and internationally.

Bacanora is deeply rooted in the cultural traditions of the Sonoran region of Mexico, and its production and consumption are closely tied to local celebrations and customs. The production and distribution of bacanora were once illegal in Mexico, but the spirit was legalized in 1992, and it has since become a point of pride for the people of Sonora.

Learn about Pox! One of the best Mexican Spirits

The correct pronunciation is more like “Posh”. Pox is one of the most traditional Mexican spirits. It is primarily made in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, which is located near the border with Guatemala. Pox is an indigenous spirit that has been produced in the region for centuries, and recently has gained popularity in other parts of Mexico.

Unlike Tequila or Mezcal, Pox is made from fermented and distilled corn, wheat, or sugar cane. Pox is often flavoured with various herbs and spices, such as anise, cinnamon, and cacao. The production process for pox is similar to that of other types of agave spirits like mezcal and tequila. The fermented mash is distilled in copper or clay stills. Aging is done in wooden barrels for varying amounts of time to develop its flavour.

While pox is primarily made in Chiapas, it is also produced in other parts of Mexico. However, the flavor and production methods may vary depending on the region. Pox is a versatile spirit that can be enjoyed neat or mixed into cocktails. It has gained a reputation as a premium craft spirit in recent years. Its unique flavour profile and cultural significance make it a fascinating spirit to explore for drinkers interested in traditional Mexican spirits.

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