Oro de Coyame
- Chihuahua, Mexico
Oro de Coyame Sotol is produced using Dasylirion wheeleri from Aldama, Chihuahua. Maestro Sotolero Gerardo Ruelas. Ruelas is one of the few heritage sotoleros in Chihuahua, carrying on a tradition going back three generations in his family.
The sotol plant, known informally as the desert spoon, was harvested to create a unique spirit that was popular during U.S. Prohibition. After legal alcohol production returned stateside, however, sotol’s popularity dropped off.
Sotol is a distilled spirit of Mexican origin sourced from the family of Asparagaceae; the genus Dasylirion and several species, most commonly: Dasylirion wheeleri, (commonly known as Desert Spoon or, in Spanish, sotol, sereque, cucharilla, or palmilla), a plant that grows in the Chihuahua desert of northern Mexico, New Mexico, Arizona, and west and central Texas.
Sotol liquor is a Mexican drink that is known as the state spirit of Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila. Sotol has its own appellation of origin since 2002, and may be produced only in Chihuahua, Coahuila and Durango.
The Chihuahuan indigenous people, the Rarámuri, 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.
The Desert Spoon takes approximately 15 years to mature and yields 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 agave, which flowers only once in its lifetime, sotols produce a flower stalk every few years. Once the plant matures, it is harvested like agave plants. 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.
They’re flowering succulent plants in the asparagus family, with long, thin, spiny leaves that make the plant overall look like a spiny sea urchin. Varieties of sotol grow throughout Northern Mexico, commonly found in the deserts of Chihuahua or forests of Oaxaca, but the range of wild sotol plants also creeps into the U.S. in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. As a result, sotol is potentially both a Mexican and American spirit, though the tradition of sotol production in Mexico goes back much farther into the past.