The leanest raicilla I’ve ever tasted but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have fruit or fermentation. It’s still very much a raicilla.
- Location: Las Guásimos, Jalisco
- Agave: Amarillo, Verde (angustifolia and
- Maestro Mezcalero: Santiago Dìaz Ramos
- Quantity: 660 bottles
- ABV: 48
- Availability: Now in Chicago, Florida, Texas, and Missouri. Soon rolling out elsewhere but also available for sale online at Caddell & Williams’ site.
All that buttery and fruity richness that’s so characteristic of certain raicillas with a touch of overripe papaya.
Grassy, picante, and acidic couched in a halo of that distinctively raicilla flavor of fermented butter. Within the context of raicillas this qualifies as lean, it’s the sauvignon blanc of its class: It bites back.
Agaves are roasted in a cylindrical below-ground masonry oven sealed with clay. Water is introduced during the second day to add steam to the roasting process. Wood canoas and magos (locally, pitelas) are used for a good part of the milling. Fermentation occurs over three weeks with wild yeasts in large masonry vats which are filled with spring water. First distillation is in a 400-liter stainless steel potstill. The second distillation is in a small 80 liter Filipino still. The bottom chamber is a clay-enclosed copper pot and whose top chamber is a hollowed-out white fig tree trunk.
Las Perlas is the fruit of a tradition and innovation. While Santiago Dìaz Ramos has been distilling for a long time and has a long familial association with raicilla, Las Perlas is made in a new facility designed with innovation in mind. Lots of ideas were applied here which you can see in the oven design. It’s a perfect cylinder so to promote an even roast while steam is used as part of the process, potentially a technique brought over from the tequila world. I do wonder where the idea of harpooning agaves came from, maybe that was the fruit of ingenuity.
The combination of tradition and innovation runs through the entire production process: Milling is done by hand and a mechanical shredder that has some of its teeth removed in order to introduce imperfections into the crushed agave. The theory here is that yeast like nooks and crannies instead of a homogenous mush, and they’re given plenty of time to operate because the fermentation period runs for three weeks which is super long. The two pass distillation, first in a very contemporary stainless steel pot still, the second with a classic Filipino still a fifth the size of the stainless steel still really tells you that they’re concentrating on the elements of distilling where they see the most pay off. The conversation about tradition and innovation is very active: Las Perlas keeps the aspects of tradition that preserve classic raicilla flavors while also highlighting their higher notes.
This is the latest in a mini-wave of raicillas. What Raicilla Venenosa began years ago is turning into something of its own. More are coming, more are coming just from Craft Distillers, the importer behind Las Perlas. I can’t wait to taste them all.