Sotol is a distilled spirit made from the "Dasylirion wheeleri" (commonly known as Desert Spoon or, in Spanish, "sotol"), a plant that grows in the wilds of Northern Mexico and West Texas and New Mexico. It is known as the state drink of Chihuahua. There are few commercial examples available. It is produced in a manner similar to the more common artisanal mezcals of central Mexico.


At the Fate Bell Shelter, which is on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande, sotol is depicted in paintings on the rock walls. Sandals, baskets, ropes, mats, and many other items of sotol fiber show it was a highly important resource to people of the Basketmaker culture. These artifacts date to around 7000 B.C.E.

The base of a cooked sotol stem may be eaten rather like an artichoke leaf (by scraping across the front teeth). This remnant, called a "quid", resembles a spoon and can be used as one. Archaeological sites where "Desert Spoon" was eaten in this way are full of discarded quids thousands of years old.

Sotol and lechuguilla flower-stalks used as atlatl dart hindshafts were found in Ceremonial Cave (Hueco Mountains, near El Paso, Texas). Sotol may also have been affiliated with fire because the sotol stem was used as a [ fireplow] .

A humanoid figure with a spray of spiky leaves for a head and a black stripe down the middle of its body may represent the magical spirit of sotol. Sometimes it appears in connection with hunting scenes. Sometimes it appears surrounded by orange ochre flames and black smoke.

The presence, at these rock shelters, of troughs a half meter long and four centimeters deep and mounds of quids suggest production of spirits using sotol as far back as 9000 years ago. The Fate Bell Shelter murals may, in part, be a tribute to the remarkable usefulness of sotol.


Local Chihuahua Indians fermented sotol juice into a beer-like alcoholic beverage as early as 800 years ago. In the 16th century, Spanish colonists introduced European distillation techniques to produce a spirit. Sotol is now beginning to achieve international recognition like its cousins, mezcal and tequila.


The Desert Spoon takes approximately 15 years to mature, and creates only one bottle of Sotol per plant. It typically grows on rocky slopes in the Chihuahuan desert grassland between 3,000 and 6,500 feet above sea level. Unlike the Agave, which flower only once in their lifetime, Sotols produce a flower stalk every few years. Once the plant matures, it is harvested similar to Agave plants when making Mezcal or Tequila. The outer leaves are removed to reveal the center core, which is taken back to the distillery. The core can then be cooked and/or steamed, shredded, fermented, and distilled.


Age classifications:
* Plata – Un-aged, straight from distillation to the bottle.
* Reposado (rested) – Aged several months to a year.
* Añejo – Aged for at least one year

External links

* [ Sotol Moonshine] is a short story about the drink by terryfunk.
* [,com_jreviews/Itemid,50/task,listsection/dir,3/section,7/ Sotol reviews] for several commercially exported brands of the drink.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • sotol — (Del nahua zotolin, palma). 1. m. Méx. Planta liliácea de la que se obtiene una bebida alcohólica. 2. Méx. Licor que se obtiene de esta planta, y, por ext., el de la caña de azúcar o el del maíz …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • sotol — ☆ sotol [sō′tōl΄, sō tōl′ ] n. [AmSp < Nahuatl tzotolli] any of a genus (Dasylirion) of yuccalike desert plants of the agave family, with dense clusters of whitish, lilylike flowers, growing in the SW U.S. and N Mexico …   English World dictionary

  • Sotol — Flasche eines Sotol Reposado der Marke Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol ist eine Spirituose aus Mexiko, in Geschmack und Herstellung vergleichbar mit dem bekannteren Tequila. Sotol gilt als Nationalgetränk von Chihuahua, dem größten Staat von Mexiko… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • sotol — ► sustantivo masculino 1 México BOTÁNICA Planta herbácea liliácea, de tallo corto, hojas arrosetadas con espinas en los bordes y una púa terminal. (Dasylirion.) 2 México Bebida alcohólica que se obtiene por fermentación del tallo de dicha planta …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • sotol — [ səʊtəʊl] noun a North American desert agave with small white flowers. [Genus Dasylirion: several species.] ↘an alcoholic drink made from the sap of the sotol plant. Origin C19: via Amer. Sp. from Nahuatl tzotolli …   English new terms dictionary

  • sotol — {{#}}{{LM S41947}}{{〓}} {{[}}sotol{{]}} ‹so·tol› {{《}}▍ s.m.{{》}} {{<}}1{{>}} Planta liliácea, parecida al maguey, de hojas largas y angostas con espinas y terminación en púa. {{<}}2{{>}} Bebida alcohólica que se obtiene de esta planta.… …   Diccionario de uso del español actual con sinónimos y antónimos

  • sotol — ˈsōˌtōl,  ̷ ̷ˈ ̷ ̷ noun ( s) Etymology: American Spanish, from Nahuatl tzotolli 1. : a plant of the genus Dasylirion (especially D. texanum and D. wheeleri) of the southwestern United States and adjacent Mexico …   Useful english dictionary

  • sotol — noun Etymology: American Spanish, from Nahuatl zōtōlin palm tree Date: 1881 any of several plants (genus Dasylirion) of the agave family of the southwestern United States and Mexico that resemble a yucca …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • sotol — /soh tohl, soh tohl /, n. any of several plants belonging to the genus Dasylirion, of the agave family, native to the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, resembling the yucca. [1880 85, Amer.; < MexSp < Nahuatl zotolin] * * * …   Universalium

  • sòtol — sò|tol Mot Pla Nom masculí …   Diccionari Català-Català

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.