La Venenosa Raicilla Sierra Occidental de Jalisco is produced by Maestro Tabernero Don Ruben Peña in the mountains in the village of Mascota, Jalisco. At 1,500 metres above sea level, Don Ruben cultivates agave Maximiliana from seeds. The agave is roasted in a wood fired adobe oven and he uses wild yeasts to ferment the aguamiel, or must, in 200 litre vats. The distillation is performed in an arabic-philippino still and bottled after only one pass. Rumor has it that Don Ruben discovered chemical compounds in the agave Maximiliana that are outside of what is regularly seen in the agave family, and that these compounds have strong therapeutic and health benefits. Some attribute this Raicilla to Don Ruben’s ability to have 17 children, all of them female. This Raicilla has a fruity palate of unsweetened lemon and lime juice. As the fruitiness fades, minerality and deep spice emerge from the depths of spirit.
Raicilla is a mezcal that has been produced in the state of Jalisco for over 400 years. In the 1780’s artisans who crafted their mezcals adopted the name Raicilla to avoid a tax levied by the Spanish Crown. They convinced the tax collectors that Raicilla is not a mezcal and were able to avoid the tax.
Most people have little knowledge of Raicilla because the world’s most famous mezcal, Tequila, became so popular that it overshadowed the other mezcal production in the state of Jalisco. Jalisco offers a great diversity of agave species, second only to Oaxaca. For this reason, along with diverse terroir, equipment and technique, Raicillas offer an amazing journey of flavour and history.
La Venenosa Raicilla was created four years ago, by Chef Esteban Morales, to bring these hidden jewels to market. Esteban crisscrossed the state in search of the best producers in each region. The results today are 4 unique Raicillas made by 4 different Maestro Taberneros from 4 different regions of 4 different species of agave using 4 different techniques.
I’m a big Venenosa stan - their inimitable wild briny character, balanced by herb and dried citrus notes, all making for some of the most rewarding sipping mezcals we have come across. They are what I crave with lengua tacos (and even oysters).