Desert Door Unlocks Secrets Of Sotol For The U.s. Market

Posted: Mar 06, 2020

For ages, sotol has been the regional vaquero drink in the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila while merely a popular style of moonshine in west Texas. Desert Door Distillery in Driftwood, TX, aims to change that by putting a U.S. twist on this ancient, under-appreciated spirit.

The evergreen sotol (Dasylirion wheeleri, of the family Asparagaceae) or “desert spoon” typically grows on rocky slopes in the desert grassland at 3,000-6,500 feet elevation in the Chihuahuan desert of Mexico and parts of New Mexico and west Texas. Texas also has a variation (Dasylirion texanum, Asparagaceae) that is related more to edible asparagus than to agaves and so is less useful for distilling.

Traditionally, desert spoon is never cultivated but wild-harvested, fermented then distilled. One mature (12–15-year-old) plant will yield approximately one 750 ml bottle of sotol at 80 proof. Sotol’s exclusivity to and accessibility within its native Mexico has also prevented its rising in volume and quality as compared to its internationally recognized cousins of tequila and mezcal. With the opening of Texas’s Desert Door Distillery, this may change. 

Desert Door may be accessed here.

By David Furer

October 17, 2018
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