What is Sotol?
It is a Magnificent Spirit from Northern Mexico that is surprisingly, not made from Agave! Mexico is typically known for its Agave Spirits, Tequila, Mezcal and several others such as, Bacanora and Raicilla. Sotol stands apart from these Mexican Spirits, in that it is made from a different plant than the Agave plant all together.
It is made from the Sotol, or Desert Spoon, or known scientifically as Dasylirion Wheeleri. It is similar looking to the agave plant but much spikier and thinner. This incredible spirit can only be made in Mexico, in the States of Durango, Chihuahua, & Coahuila. The Sotol plant also grows in parts of Texas, and so there are some Texas Sotol’s as well.
The production of Sotol can be very similar to Tequila & Mezcal. Some Dasylirion Wheeleri are cooked in earthen pits like Mezcal and some are steamed in above ground ovens like Tequila. It can also be Aged and have expressions such as Reposado, and Anejo similar to other Agave Spirits.
What makes Sotol Different?
- It is wild harvested which is different than Tequila where the Agave plants are usually farmed.
- Takes 12-15 years to reach maturity, and the average yield per plant is 1 liter.
- In comparison, on average the yield of a single agave heart is around 6 liters of Tequila
- Sotol must be harvested & distilled in the Mexican states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Durango.
There are 15 species of Dasylirion, but most Sotol is made from only three:
- Dasylirion Wheeleri
- Dasylirion Leiophyllum
- Dasylirion Cedrosanum
What does it taste like?
In my opinion, it tastes like a blend of a really well made Tequila mixed with a really well made Mezcal. It is grassy and crisp like a great Tequila and it has a subtle smoke not unlike a well made Mezcal. It can also vary wildly in taste due to aging, which usually tempers the smokey elements of the Sotol.
You can also use it in cocktails such as the Matador Norteno.