A Raicilla Worth Drinking

The bootleg cousin of tequila and mezcal gets an upgrade

There’s nothing new about raicilla as a product category. The agave spirit has long maintained a cult following in Mexico, for locals and visitors alike. Of late, it’s also been coveted by bartenders with an eye for hard-to-get spirits. The only issue has been consistency. Last year, one raicilla entered the United States by way of legal distribution after years of trickling in through a variety of ways. For the first time, quality became predictable and reliable. Now, however, Estancia Raicilla enters the market as a second player in the field and it’s the best one can get Stateside. For those not familiar with the spirit, when taken neat, raicilla is more fruity and floral than its cousin tequila, and it foregoes the intense smokey bite of mezcal for something arguably more nuanced. Altogether, it’s a bright sibling spirit that borders the line between something familiar and entirely distinct—Estancia lands this.

In the town of La Estancia in the Jalisco highlands, founder Rio Chenery discovered a 200-year-old spring-fed hacienda. There, he and Master Distiller Juan Ramos set up production and began utilizing the Maximiliana agave, known as Lechuguilla. Combining 400 years of learned history, with traditional processes met with advanced distillation, Estancia Raicilla was born. Just one sip reveals tropical fruits, with pineapple most prominent. There’s a touch of smoke, but really freshness is key here. For agave spirit fans who’ve heard of, but not yet tried raicilla, this is the place to start.

At present, Estancia Raicilla is available at Mash & Grape online for $36.

Images by Cool Hunting