Cinco de Mayo is on the horizon, but I’m not touching the tequila this year. Actually, that’s a lie. Oh well, I tried. But guess what else I’m drinking? That’s right, sotol!! How’d you know? This desert spoon spirit has me all kinds of giddy. What-the-yum is sotol, you ask? Let me explain . . .
What is Sotol?
Sotol is a distilled spirit made from the Dasylirion Wheeleri plant, also know as the desert spoon, or, wait for it . . . the sotol plant! It is native to certain regions of northern Mexico, New Mexico and Texas.
How is it made?
Similar to tequila or mezcal, the outer leaves are removed until the core is reached (think artichoke). The core is then cooked and the resulting liquid is then fermented and distilled. Pretty straightforward if you ask me. Also, like tequila, sotol can then be aged in oak barrels to produce a reposado or an añejo.
What does it taste like?
Tequila and sotol share a comparable flavor profile. In fact, think of it as tequila’s northern cousin. While sotol isn’t technically made from an agave (it has its own family classification: Nolinaceae) it is very similar. Unlike mezcal which is roasted underground, sotol is cooked in above-ground ovens, and doesn’t possess the smokiness of a mezcal. I find it to be very grassy and vegetal.
Where can I find it?
While still a bit hard to find, I wanted to put it on your radar so that if you do happen to see a bottle you can snatch it up! Here in the Bay Area, I’m lucky enough to have a few amazing local liquor stores that regularly carry sotol. I’ve seen it at both Ledgers Liquors and Northbrae Bottle Shop in Berkeley. If you’re not in the Bay Area, you might be able to order it from an online retailer, depending on your state’s shipping laws.
How should I drink it?
I always, always, ALWAYS recommend first trying a new spirit on its own at room temperature. This will reveal its true character. Next, throw in an ice cube or two for some chilling and dilution. Take note of how it changes character. Finally, give it a try in a cocktail. And on that note, stay tuned for more . . .
(images by HonestlyYUM)