La Higuera Sotol
Sotol La Higuera is distilled in Aldama, Chihuahua by Gerardo Ruelas. The sotol distillate is made from the tall, spiny-leaved Dasylirion wheeleri shrub, more commonly referred to as desert spoon.
Desert spoon knows no borders, growing wild in the deserts of both Mexico and the American Southwest. Like agave, Dasylirion wheeleri produces piñas that are round and spiky, with a dense core that can be roasted and distilled. While frequently compared to mezcal, however, Dasylirion wheeleri is indeed a distinctively different plant. During agave harvest, the roots of the agave plants must be dug up entirely from the ground and the fields replanted – an arduous process that requires several years for the new plantings to reach maturity. Dasylirion wheeleri’s roots, on the other hand, remain intact when harvested, allowing the plants to re-grow and re-produce for up to a century.
Once back at the vinata (sotol distillery), the labor-intensive production of sotol very much resembles that of a traditional, rustic agave distillation. Placed in a conical oven that has been dug into the ground, the piñas are roasted for several days before being milled by hand with axes into an extractable pulp. At Sotol La Higuera, fermentation occurs with native yeast in 1,000-liter pine vats. The sotols are then double distilled in copper alembic stills.