Up until 2014, there was really only 1 way for Americans to get raicilla:
When I first had raicilla, it was because I was looking for mezcal in a shitty beach bar in Sayulita. I actually had the 1 bartender (in a town of 50 bars) in the town that didn’t speak (perfect) english but I used the might of my high school/ restaurant Spanglish to communicate:
“Yo soy un cantinero.”
All of a sudden an unlabeled milk jug appeared and we started doing shots of raicilla. I was told
“Is like tequila.”
And by asking for more everywhere I went, and later finding out about its dubious legal status, almost strictly an illegal moonshine, I found out I was basically saying the cultural equivalent of:
“Hello, I am a bartender from America. I understand your town makes a lot of artesian meth or crack, either way, do you know anyone who makes it and if I can buy some?”
Raicilla, is a type of mezcal, that much like American moonshine, was born out of a desire to dodge taxes. In the 1780s, the term “raicilla” was coined to avoid taxes that were being levied on tequila. This ruse worked on the Spanish crown at the time and later became an illicit tradition.
Raicilla is made of many different agaves like inaquindens, augustifolia, rhodecantha and more! I have only ever had 1 type that actually had a label on it, but of the many I’ve had (cross referenced with other agave-philes) raicilla is normally rustically distilled, once or twice in pot stills and clay/copper/wood hybrids thereof. It has flavors like eating smoked bacon that was fried in fino sherry.
And, it will be imported into America for the first time later this year. Stay tuned for more, or go to Mexico, hop onto a bar stool, and start asking for illegal hooch and see where the night takes you.