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Is Sotol The New Mezcal?

First came tequila. Then mezcal. Will the next big Mexican import be sotol?

Sotol is a traditional Mexican drink with a lineage that dates back over 800 years.  Its taste is described as smooth, sweet and lightly floral – a gentle cousin to brash tequila and smoky mezcal.

Primarily distilled in the three northern states of Coahuila, Durango, and Chihuahua, sotol is made from the wild-growing agavacea plant known as Desert Spoon (sotol in Spanish).  The only brand currently available in Canada comes from Hacienda de Chihuahua. Their master distiller has worked with prestige brands like Martell, Larsen & Moet-Chandon, so you know there are high hopes for sotol.  He brews Hacienda by slowly steam-cooking the wild-harvested plants, naturally fermenting them with champagne yeast and then distilling in a double-column copper still.

It takes one whole plant to produce a bottle of USDA Organic, Kosher-certified Hacienda.  The slow-growing plants take 15 years to mature, compared to the 8-10 for tequila’s blue agave. On the surface, this sounds like a disadvantage, but one could view that it’s the extended ageing time that gives sotol its richness and complexity, making it a potential hit in the premium spirits market.

Intrigued?  We think it’s the lore behind the drink that adventurous boozehounds will be most excited by.  According to this mind-blowing Roads and Kingdoms story,  the real-deal Chihuahua sotoleros imbue their versions with some pretty unique flavours:  peyote, pot – even snake.

Those fortunate enough to live in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan can claim their Sotol bragging rights anytime.  The rest of us will have to search a little harder and patiently bide our time with tequila and mezcal.

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