Unlike traditional, double-distilled mezcals, raicilla is typically single-distilled. Because Jalisco has the second-greatest biodiversity of agaves outside of Oaxaca, distillers use a range of varietals in its production
The spirit itself is ancient but has a delightfully insurgent post-colonial history. Once a humble beverage, primarily enjoyed by farmers, raicilla was rendered verboten and taxed heavily after the Spanish conquest.
Production moved underground. When tax collectors came to small villages, locals lied, saying the spirit they were making didn’t use the piña of agave like mezcal (it did); rather, it was from the “roots” of the agave (same thing). They gave their spirit the name raicilla, or “little root.”