Bar Cart: Sotol La Higuera Dasylirion Wheeleri
The best bottle to kick off your sotol education.
Like mezcal before it, sotol is the next Mexican spirit set to take over back bars and bar carts the world over. Produced primarily in the state of Chihuahua, bordering Texas and New Mexico, sotol is made from a member of the asparagus family called Dasylirion, using distilling techniques similar to those used for mezcal production. While sotol’s flavour profiles can veer toward those of tequila and mezcal, they are often more lean, vegetal, and funky, making them a perfect introduction to artisanal Mexican spirits for those frightened off by the former’s cleanness and the latter’s smokiness. And there’s one producer to start with.
Headed by master distiller Gerardo Ruelas, Sotol La Higuera traverses Chihuahua’s microclimates and dasylirion’s many varieties, making discovering Sotol’s intricacies simple for consumers. But the most important bottle to try is the one made with the wheeleri varietal of dasylirion, Sotol La Higuera’s principal and most accessible offering. D. wheeleri is to sotol what espadín is to mezcal, the most widely cultivated and representative varietal used in the spirit’s production and an essential building block for anyone looking to become educated regarding the category as a whole.
Sotol is one of the rare spirits that presents terroir, and Sotol La Higuera’s Wheeleri represents its arid, desert home in spades. The nose leads with a chlorine-like funkiness that quickly dissipates into peat smoke. On the palate, however, a lithe overall flavour eschews much of the funk and smoke in favour of herbal, mineral, and high-acid fruit notes. Carried by a pleasantly oily mouthfeel, dominant lemongrass and thyme notes make way for a finish centred around green apples, underripe cherry, and yes, a bit of mezcal-like smoke. But unlike mezcal, Sotol La Higuera’s Wheeleri will still impress your friends when you pour them a glass.