Sotol Defined | For Tequila Lovers

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Sotol Defined

SOTOL PLANT

TEQUILA'S SPIRITUAL COUSIN Content Courtesy of Ian Chadwick of IanChadwick.com.

Sotol is a form of mezcal made from a different plant: the Dasilyrion, which belongs to the family Nolinaceae. Sotol is made from the Dasylirion wheeleri, D. duranguensis, D. palmeri and D. acotriche, plants, which are short stemmed succulent plants, with large thorns on serrated leaves, which end on a sharp barb and are very similar to the maguey plant, but not an agave.

Sotol is produced in the Mexican northern state of Chihuahua, but is native to the states of Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua, where the plant is abundant. It is aged six months before bottling.

The Tarahumara and Apache Indians fermented a drink from the syrup of the wild Dasylirion Wheeleri, similar to pulque. The Tarahumara people refer to sotol's plant as "balilá" or "selé." The plant was also known as sotol. The manufacturing process is very similar to the one used for mezcales; the plant's core is cooked, fermented and the liquid is then distilled using more or less the same technique described in the making of mezcal.

Sotol can only be made from 100% Dasilyrion sugars. The plant lives in high, cold altitudes and takes 10+ years to mature. The piña is a third smaller than tequila agaves. So far, there is only one commercial brand available; it is aged in oak barrels and named reposado or añejo like tequila. Producers have received a Denomination of Origin like both tequila and mezcal have.