Raicilla is a smoked agave spirit from Jalisco (the same area as tequila) using the specific species of agave called lechuguilla and pata de mula. "Raicilla is technically a mezcal, as is tequila," says Cole Schaffer, Beverage Director at New York's Neta. Mezcal is any spirit with a base of agave. Raicilla can't be called tequila because it doesn't contain blue agave.
Raicilla is different from tequila not only because of its base product, but its production style and where it's produced. "Raicilla is different from mezcal because of its domaine, and you can only use the two species of agave mentioned above (lechuguilla and pata de mula)."
Raicilla is known for being much sweeter, fruitier and more herbal than tequila and mezcal. Most agave spirit cocktails are masked with too much citrus. "These are complex spirits that have nuance." It's also known for its smoky nose. This comes from the baking of the Agave hearts in deep pits.
Try This One - La Venenosa Costa
"It's definitely not a mild spirit and the smoke is upfront, but it is followed by savory notes that I associate with ripe cheese," says Schaffer. "I like to find ways to stir them." Currently, Schaffer has been using La Venenosa Costa Raicilla with housemade tonka bean and cherry wood bitters, and Pur Likor Elderflower in a cocktail called the Amai Doku.