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Where are you going next?

 Africa86 votes
76.11%
 South America3 votes
2.65%
 Europe3 votes
2.65%
 Eastern Asia5 votes
4.42%
 Carribean9 votes
7.96%
 Safeway5 votes
4.42%
 Australia2 votes
1.77%
total votes: 113
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"Follow your desire as long as you live...for the wasting of time is an abomination of the spirit." -- Ptahhotpe, 2350 B.C.

384--Mexico: How Raicilla is Made
@ CherieSpotting     Apr 13 2007 - 17:17 PST
cherie writes: Raicilla (rye-see-yah), often misspelled ‘racilla’, got its start as bootleg liquor from the mountains above Puerto Vallarta. Now legitimized and no longer called “Mexican Moonshine”, Raicilla is a mezcal spirit distilled in the same manner as tequila.

The difference between tequila and Raicilla is the source; Raicilla comes from Agave Lechuguilla while tequila comes from Agave Tequiliana Weber or ‘blue agave’ (which is larger and more “blue”.)

Greg, Dustin, Camelia & I visited San Sebastian del Oeste, a 90 minute drive from Puerto Vallarta to learn how Raicilla was made. Just over the town’s river is an authentic Raicilla Taberna tucked into the hills. Legend says that Raicilla is an aphrodisiac. We decided to investigate.

Here’s how Raicilla is made. After a decade of growing in the perfect climate of Jalisco, the agave is harvested. The “leaves” are hacked off by a ‘jimadore’, and the ‘heart’ of the plant (called a “pineapple”) is processed. The workers then use ‘mazos’ (mallets) to smash the ‘pina’ in a wooden trough called a ‘batea’.

Raicilla-makers bake the plant for 24-36 hours in a brick oven. Then the crushed agave pulp is placed in a barrel to ferment. The mixture is finally distilled with an open flame and a copper distillation coil. The Raicilla is then bottled and ready to drink.

After a few complimentary shots, we bought a liter of Raicilla for 150 pesos (or about $15 USD.) After a shot or two, Dustin & Camelia disappeared on a “long hike”. (Is that what kids call it these days?)

Luckily, San Sebastian del Oeste is an old mining town, so there are plenty of abandoned caves for intoxicated lovers to explore. Is Raicilla an aphrodisiac? Only the caves know for sure.

Click on each picture to see it full size.

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Greg, Camelia & Cherie use ‘mazos’ (mallets) to pretend to smash the agave in a wooden trough which is called a ‘batea’.  Who knew making Raicilla was so much work!

Greg, Camelia & Cherie use ‘mazos’ (mallets) to pretend to smash the agave in a wooden trough which is called a ‘batea’. Who knew making Raicilla was so much work!

Cherie, Camelia & Dustin drive into the Sierra Madre Mountains to find a little-known Raicilla Taberna.

Cherie, Camelia & Dustin drive into the Sierra Madre Mountains to find a little-known Raicilla Taberna.

The Raicilla Taberna is just past San Sebastian del Oeste.  Make a left at the horse.

The Raicilla Taberna is just past San Sebastian del Oeste. Make a left at the horse.

Agave plantations pepper the hills with color.

Agave plantations pepper the hills with color.

Raicilla starts with Agave Lechuguilla, which is greener (and smaller) than the blue agave which tequila come from.

Raicilla starts with Agave Lechuguilla, which is greener (and smaller) than the blue agave which tequila come from.

The Raicilla "sales office."

The Raicilla "sales office."

Greg and Cherie near the brick and stone ovens where the agave "pineapple" is baked.

Greg and Cherie near the brick and stone ovens where the agave "pineapple" is baked.

The agave "pineapple" (or heart of the plant) is baked and then crushed before it is distilled into Raicilla.

The agave "pineapple" (or heart of the plant) is baked and then crushed before it is distilled into Raicilla.

The "pineapple", often weighing over 100-pounds, is placed into an oven to bake.

The "pineapple", often weighing over 100-pounds, is placed into an oven to bake.

Greg breathes in the musky sweetness of the oven.

Greg breathes in the musky sweetness of the oven.

Raicilla made the same way as tequila.  The spirits come from different types of agave.

Raicilla made the same way as tequila. The spirits come from different types of agave.

Camelia tastes the agave pulp fermenting in the barrel.

Camelia tastes the agave pulp fermenting in the barrel.

Although it seems like a bootleg liquor, Raicilla has recently become legitimized.

Although it seems like a bootleg liquor, Raicilla has recently become legitimized.

The fire warms your outside, the Raicilla warms your inside.

The fire warms your outside, the Raicilla warms your inside.

Dustin and Greg inspect the copper coil inside the barrel.

Dustin and Greg inspect the copper coil inside the barrel.

Dustin samples the raw Raicilla straight from the source.

Dustin samples the raw Raicilla straight from the source.

While we paid $15 USD for our no-label Raicilla, expect to pay $25 for Raicilla bought with a label in a store.

While we paid $15 USD for our no-label Raicilla, expect to pay $25 for Raicilla bought with a label in a store.

Fields of agave nestled 4500-ft up in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Fields of agave nestled 4500-ft up in the Sierra Madre Mountains.