Think of Sotol as Mezcal and Tequila’s lesser-known cousin. It’s a fiery spirit made from wild agave plants, Sotol is finally beginning to achieve international recognition.
Sotol is made by distilling an Agave sub-species commonly known as Desert Spoon (or, in Spanish; Sotol), a plant that grows in northern Mexico. It’s the state drink of Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila.
The Desert Spoon makes for a tricky harvest. It takes approximately 15 years to mature and yields very little – on average only one bottle of sotol per plant. Equally, it typically grows on rocky slopes in the Chihuahuan desert grassland between 3,000 and 6,500 feet above sea level making it harder to access. Unlike the Blue agave used for Tequila, which flowers only once in its lifetime, sotols produce a flower stalk every few years.
Production is similar to that of Tequila: the outer leaves are removed to reveal the heart, which is taken back to the distillery. The heart of the plant can then be cooked, shredded, fermented, and distilled. Classifications are also similar to Tequila - Plata, Reposado, Añejo and Extra Añejo. While each brand is different, in general Sotol is characterised by its subdued, grassy character, often with smoky and earthy undertones.