Dear Curious Readers,
Sotol is an alcohol worth trying for its delicate aromas, subtle taste, and round body. But what is it? We mentionned that beverage a couple of years ago. As this is becoming more available these days (is sotol the next new thing?) let's spend time looking at it in details.
WHAT IS SOTOL?
Sotol was said to be a Mezcal for a long time but as it is produced solely from the Sotol plant (a.k.a. Dasylirion wheeleri) which is now classified as a member of the Nolinaceae family of the order Asparagaceae. For that reason, because Sotol is NOT made from an agave, it is technically not a mezcal, even though in the same Asparagaceae order.
So... Sotol is made from desert spoon, a plant similar to agave that grows in the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango. It grows also n the southern state like Oaxaca and as far north as New Mexico, Arizona or Texas.
It grows at higher and therefore cooler altitudes than Mezcal and Tequila. It reaches maturity at around 15 years. Pinas of Sotol are 1/3 of the size of the blue agave. It does flower more often that the cousin the agave (which flower only once if you remember).
Sotol is 100% Sotol agave, no mixto are produced.
Some Sotol are aged in barrel, under the same categories than Mezcal and Tequila (blanco, reposado, etc).
Sotol has a Mexican denomination of origin since 2004 which states that it can only be produced in the Northern Mexican States of Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Durango.
HOW IS SOTOL MADE?
A sotol plant takes 15 years to mature. It generally takes one plant to produce one bottle of sotol (compared to tequila or mezcal where one plant can produce 5-10 bottles, though there are exceptions)
Like Raicilla, the pinas are cooked in above ground ovens and distilled in column stills, so it does not have the smokiness of mezcals.
A pina is giving approximately 1 bottle of Sotol.
HOW DOES SOTOL TASTE?
Tastewise Sotol is drier and earthier than Mezcal. At 38 percent alcohol, it is milder than tequila and mezcal, with a toasty, nutty aroma and a flavor of licorice and chamomile.
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