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Summer has arrived. That sentence may not apply to all readership (sorry, folks in Chicago or Minnesota), but down here below the Mason-Dixon, we’ve felt it coming for some time. Summer brings many gifts: the opportunity to wear shorts, take a trip, and perhaps best of all, summer means a new favorite spirit. This year, I’m looking at sotol. You’ve likely heard whispers of sotol’s tenacious, herbaceous flavor, a profile so wild you can practically taste the boots that walked the rough Chihuahuan slopes from where sotol is harvested. It is made of Dasylirion wheeleri, also called Desert Spoon, spoon flower or sotol, a species in the Nolinaceae family of the order Asparagaceae, the same order as agave. There are currently 16 known species of Dasylirion that sotol can be made from. Sotol takes longer to mature than agave, an average of 15 years, but unlike its relative, which flowers only once in its lifetime, the Desert Spoon will produce a flower stalk every few years. Each plant typically yields one bottle worth of product. Sotol is especially influenced by terroir. The flavors of the desert, forest, or grasslands from where the plant was sourced are evident in the final product. At once, any given sotol will be green, herbal, and quite smoky, with variable flavors of citrus and minerality. These are just a few of several possible descriptors. Typically, sotol is enjoyed unadulterated in its home country. The nose on the bottle that I have at home, Flor del Desierto, is extremely green and smoky. This particular sotol distillery exists in the rocky northern state of Chihuahua and roasts their piñas underground to intensify the flavor profile of their final spirit. The palate was not what I expected; it’s smooth, a bit sweet, and goes down without a hitch. The production of sotol is akin to many of the artisanal mezcals coming out of central Mexico. Its official denomination of origin includes the northern territories of Chihuahua, Durango, and Coahuila, but sotol grows in southern states like Oaxaca and as far north as Arizona, Texas, and WWW.ARTISANSPIRITMAG.COM  

Photo by Travis Hallmark

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Artisan Spirit: Summer 2018  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Summer 2018  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.