Is it Tequila? Is it Mezcal? Is it a cactus or agave?
TTB has approved many Sotol products. The labels don’t do an especially good job of explaining what sotol is, but here are three fairly recent approvals:
All three are classified as “Spirits Distilled from Sotol,” are made in Mexico, and are about 80 proof. According to Wikipedia, sotol is a spirit made from the Dasylirion wheeleri plant. It is the state drink of Chihuahua. The plant is known as Desert spoon in English and sotol in Spanish. It is a flowering shrub.
The Polished Palate seems to do a good job of distinguishing among Sotol, Tequila and Mezcal. It says they are all made from the agave (agavacea) plant and:
Tequila is made only from the Blue Weber agave. Mezcal can be made from a larger variety, the most popular being Espadin and Tobala. Sotol is made only from the agave grown in the Chihuahua State.
It remains confusing, however, because Ian Chadwick explains that sotol is not made from agave. He says it is made from an altogether different genus and species.
David Bushman says
This is another Sotol that just came into the market in the United States that is worth mentioning (Don Cuco Sotol). This company does have a back label that has great information about the sotol. They are only in New Mexico hope they expand fast because their distilled spirit is great. http://www.doncucosotol.com
Arturo Aguilar says
Yes, Don Cuco and Hacienda are in Las Cruces. Both are really good and mix well with anything. I first tried Hacienda about 4 years ago. I buy a bottle everytime I go to Chihuahua. I also started seeing Don Cuco by New Mexico State University. I understand that Hacienda and Don Cuco can be found in border towns. Also in Juarez and Chihuahua City
Julian Leos says
Sotol is made from the plant dassilyrion whelleri and not from agave tequilana weber. People in the Chihuahuan Desert make it artisanally, from New Mexico and Texas to Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua State. Hispanic people in Texas call it mescalito and white cowboys sotol moonshine.
Arturo E says
Sotol Hacienda de Chihuahua can be found now in many states: Texas and Colorado (I think these are their most important markets) but I’ve seen it in Nevada (Vegas at the Bellagio) and California (old Town in San Diego) as well, their website does explain quite clearly how is made. http://www.vinomex.com.mx/sotol.html