A Field Trip to Desert Door

by Lia
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Some mornings are best spent at a distillery. ☀️

Desert Door, Driftwood, TX //
© 2019 Lia Ballentine

I recently took a field trip to Desert Door, a sotol distillery in Driftwood, Texas, just southwest of Austin. For those of you who are new to sotol (like me), it’s a spirit made from a wild desert plant called “sotol” (of course) and also known as “Desert Spoon.” (In the photo to the right, you can see a sotol plant with its tall flower stem left of the distillery sign.)

The sotol plant grows in Northern Mexico and across parts of New Mexico and Texas. It can take 15-20 years for the plant to reach maturity, and the plant can reach as high as 15 feet with its flower stem. It has spiky green leaves similar to agave; however, it’s NOT part of the agave family. It’s actually part of the asparagus family, which was so interesting to learn! Therefore, sotol is not a mezcal. 😲

Desert Door wild harvests mature Texas sotol for their product. This means they collect the sotol in the areas of West Texas where they grow naturally. They aren’t cultivated/farmed/managed. They’re truly wild and local.

It was fascinating to see the harvested sotol hearts at the distillery, and I enjoyed learning about the distilling process. I had a chance to taste pre-fermented sotol juice, which I thought had a bright grassy flavor. I’d be happy to drink it with my breakfast anytime. I also really liked the taste of the final distilled product. To me, it tasted a little earthy and was very smooth to sip.

Sotol is great is on its own, but I have to say that it’s excellent in a cocktail. After the distillery tour, I had a Paloma in the Desert Door tasting room, and it was so refreshing. I could’ve had a second one, but it wasn’t even 10 a.m. yet. 😬

I had a great time learning about sotol and tasting it, and I’m excited to see the rise of this new category of spirit. Of course, I couldn’t leave Desert Door without bringing home a bottle for later, so I snagged a gorgeous blue bottle of their oak barrel-aged sotol—a limited release, so lucky me!


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