Clay oven at Mexicat
There are several variations in artisanal raicilla production. Some use the fire-pit (palenque); others use an above-ground oven. Some producers use only a single distillation; others distill twice; some use clay, others use copper. Mexicat trimming is done with unusual care to avoid off-flavors from the spines. Mexicat uses an igloo-shaped clay oven. They build a big fire inside and let it burn until the wall of the oven is very hot. They then rake out the embers and seal the agaves inside for 2 days; a batch is 3.5 tons. Fermentation is by wild yeasts in 200-liter tinas and takes 5-8 days. Mexicat’s José Salcedo, a third- generation distiller, double-distills in a copper-lined pot.