Sotol is a magical plant which grows abundant in Northern Mexico. Up to now, this plant was unknown to many outside of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It typically grows on the rocky slopes of the Chihuahuan desert grassland between 3,000 and 6,500 feet above sea level. Dasylirion wheeleri, the scientific name of sotol, grows up to 5 feet tall and forms, a dense rosette of silver-blue foliage. Over time it develops a short trunk. The leathery 2 to 3 foot long, ½ inch wide leaves have teeth along the margins and a spoon shaped base that gives the plant its moniker of Desert Spoon. Sotol takes approximately 5 to7 years to mature and creates only one bottle of liquor per plant. The outer leaves are removed to reveal the center core, which is taken back to the distillery. The piña or head can then be cooked and/or steamed, shredded, fermented, and distilled. The root left in the wild will regenerate unlike the Agave, which dies after harvesting.
The process of sotol making is an interesting one. Unchanged for centuries and perfected by the descendants of Don Cuco. The sotol jimador first makes the trek up rocky and jagged hills to harvest the plant. Armed with a long pick and an axe plus his trusty burro equipped with baskets to hold the sotol heads, the jimador chops the leaves away from the pineapple looking head. The sotol heads are carefully placed in the baskets. The plants leaves and stem is reusable and never wasted. Walking sticks and baskets are produced. Thus, the plant’s ecological uses are immense. The burro and his master walk down the hill to the trucks waiting to deliver the plants to the distillery to begin the fermentation process. First, the heads are placed in a traditional stone oven that is 6 feet deep by 5 feet wide. Volcanic rock heats the oven. The oven is covered with palm leaves and soil. The sotol is cooked for 72 hours in temperatures reaching more than 180 degrees Fahrenheit. During this process, 200 liters of purified water is added to the volcanic oven. The steam cooks the sotol heads then they are removed and prepared for grinding and milling. Next, the sotol heads are hand mashed with an axe. This is to remove the “quiote” or center core of the plant. The smashed sotol heads are placed in buckets to be distributed to the fermentation process. They are taken to fermentation cubicles where 400 liters of purified water are added. The crushed sotol heads are allowed to rest for 5 to 7 days. This will convert the sugars to alcohol. What happens next is that the smashed sotol heads are added to copper pots. The gas burners are lit and resultant vapor will pass through traditional copper stills. The first distillation process produces the vino low (grade liquor) and the second a fiery colorless liquid known as sotol head leaving a aguacola after the pearls of the Sotol de cabeza is minimized. It is blended afterwards before bottling. Its alcohol content may be between 85 and 150 proof. The liquid is then deposited into a clean 200 liter vat. The remainder aguacola is placed in a separate vat for later use during the next process. The alcohol content can be determined by mixing the aguacola , water from the sotol plant and sotol head. This mixture is checked with an alcoholic meter at the temperature of 15 degrees Centigrade. Its result is a super premium sotol quality drink. Finally it is left at 36% alc/vol. (72 proof). After this, it is then transported to the bottling department. Bottle passes through quality control, sealed, labeled and placed in boxes for delivery.
Sotol was first fermented over 800 years ago by Chihuahuan Indians. The oldest still found in North America was for sotol. In the 16 th century, Spanish colonists introduced different European distillation techniques to produce this high spirit. This spirit was appreciated by the high priests and shamans of tribes found in northern Chihuahua. It was used in ceremonies and also for medicinal purposes. This delicious liquor was very popular and widely consumed by the wealthy families of Mexico during the 18 th and 19 th century. Sotol making grew in the sierras of Chihuahua and soon many distilleries popped up in small towns. In 1905, there were 32 sotol distilleries in Chihuahua that produced472,752 liters annually. This did not include the clandestine liquor produced and sold by small sotol makers and ranchers. Most towns had their own distilleries such Parral, Aldama, Jimenez, Cd. Madera and Chinipas. Even during the Revolution Pancho Villa was known to use it for medicinal purposes. During the prohibition era in the US, the Chihuahua government took it seriously to appease their neighbors to the north and the pursuit of sotol makers became a sport. The industrialization of sotol ceased and it became an illegal drink. The border towns were hit the hardest because whiskey was taking over as the drink of choice because it was easier to make and a lot more economical. But, sotol was considered a high quality drink and to smuggle it was risky. Tequila was not affected due to it’s southern location. Whiskey and Tequila were easier to find and consumers were adapting to it more. In recent times, a movement to recapture state pride has led to resurgence in the appreciation of sotol. The company Don Cuco Sotol was formed and started to distribute throughout Mexico. Smaller distilleries were also created in Chihuahua. The Regulatory Council of Sotol was born. Only three states can grow and produce sotol; Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila. Specialists in economics, agricultural, science and political leaders are assisting in improving the product. Sotol is making a comeback and is no longer a hidden gem. Don Cuco Sotol has also been part of the long history of this revolutionary and rich spirit that is finally being untapped and re launched to a new audience.
The making of sotol is an art, which Don Cuco learned from his father and grandfather who lived among the Indians. Don Cuco passed this art to his children, who are now re-introducing their heritage. From here, Don Cuco's sons, master sotol makers, are reintroducing a generation old family drink into the United States with a firm commitment - to continue producing the best in super premium quality Sotol.
The name “Don Cuco Sotol” was inspired by the generations through which this art was passed from the Indians to our ancestors.
Don Cuco Sotol is the first to be licensed by the US and the Mexican federal government for commercial production, but few individuals are left who can reproduce the savory nectar.
Our sotol is produced into a super premium quality. The sotol is distilled drop by drop, thus producing the smoothness and flavor characteristics that make Don Cuco Sotol a true quality drink. Our way of making sotol is what we are proud of and it is because we know we do it well. It is with the highest confidence that we acclaim "OUR SOTOL IS THE PRIDE OF CHIHUAHUA".
Early 20th Century - Don Cuco Perez becomes a Sotol master learning from his great grandfather.
1930- Don Cuco attempts first permit, but he is denied due to prohibition.
1961- Don Cuco’s sons try to obtain a permit for Sotol but are denied, The Mexican government was not offering such permits.
1992- Don Cuco’s nephew obtains the first permit to produce Sotol in Mexico. The permit number is 1050001.
1996- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. approves Don Cuco Sotol.
Nov. 2001- Initiation of the Denomination of Origin began in the offices of the IMPI ( Mexico’s Intellectual Patent and Trademark Office).
May 2002- Compañia Elaboradora de Sotol S. de R.L. works with the States of Chihuahua, Durango, and Coahuila in constituting the Official Norms for Sotol. The bylaws for the Regulatory Council for Sotol were also formed.
August 2002- IMPI ( Mexico’s Intellectual Patent and Trademark Office) grants protection to the Origin of Sotol at a National level.
Oct. 2, 2003- The World of Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) issues a declaration of protection on Sotol’s origin.
June 16, 2004- The Mexican NOM for Sotol is officially issued. The Mexican NOM number for Sotol is NOM-159-SCFI-2004.
Feb. 8, 2005- The European Union and Mexico signed a bilateral agreement in which Europe agreed to recognize sotol as an exclusive Mexican product.
Feb. 2007- Compania Elaboradora de Sotol S. de R.L trademarks its brand name “Don Cuco Sotol” in both United States and Mexico.
2008 -An annex was built to produce a new product line “Sotol de Crema Edicion Paquime.”
2008- Compañia Elaboradora de Sotol S. de R.L. decides to begin tapping the market in the U.S
2009- New product line “Sotol Reposado and Sotol Anejo”
“The company’s mission is to supply, promote, and internationalize super premium quality Sotol-integral part of Mexican culture that should always be drunk in the spirit of tradition”
“We believe in delivering the highest quality product to our customers”
“We believe in the continuation and richness of the history as it relates to sotol: the skill, heritage, the heirloom, etc.”
“We believe in the history of the product in Mexico”
“We believe in the potential of the sotol products”
“We believe sotol is part of our family spirit and builds our unity“
“We believe that customers appreciate that sotol has 100% natural ingredients”
Compania Elaboradora de Sotol S de R.L
Location: Janos, Chihuahua, Mexico
Carretera Cd. Juarez-Janos km 200 S/N Colonia Janos, Chihuahua 31840
The distillery Don Cuco Sotol distribution is approximately 76 miles from the US border and next to a hub to major roads leading to Juarez, Chihuahua City, Mexico City, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and California. The distillery of Don Cuco Sotol is located in the historical town of Janos, Chihuahua, Mexico and consists of 4499 sq. ft situated on a 10 acre site. The Federal government is assisting in the planting sotol by giving grants to farmers. Because of this, sotol will be cultivated in an adjoining lot of land next to the distillery.
The factory includes a fermentation area, packaging, storage, bottling, office, lobby and an outside security station. Don Cuco’s distillery will target its products to tourism and growing population. Janos is close to the US border which makes it easy to import.
The distillery will remain open for public tours during the production seasons. Other artisans will be selling their sotol hand crafted products such as weaving baskets and walking sticks.
Sotol SUAVE comes in 750ml bottle. 100% NATURAL SPIRIT
An easy, smooth flavor that empowers your favorite cocktail. The aroma is full and contains the aroma of the Chihuahua desert and a pinch of caramel. Definitely a super premium liquor. Calling its flavor exotic would be an understatement.
Sotol TRADICIONAL comes in 750ml bottle. 100% NATURAL SPIRIT
Strong and bold hit to your palate. This super premium drink captures the flavor of the traditional sotol sipped on by Indian shaman, Spanish nobility and Mexican revolutionaries. Its earthy appeal and fiery blend of the Desert Spoon and the craftsmanship of a generation's old family tradition give off a unique taste. A true connoisseur will appreciate its character.
Don Cuco Sotol de Crema a traditional liqueur from the Paquime region. Sotol cream is only in the local Mexican market, but in process for FTA approval.
Definitely a drink for lovers of cream liqueurs combining a creamy spark to Don Cuco Sotol gives the newest product, CREMA DE SOTOL, a Mexican twist to traditional Irish cream. The texture is rich. The color is pleasing and the sotol adds the warmth and kick to it. It is in a beautiful Paquime style designed bottle that only adds to the premium concoction inside. Definitely a drink for lovers of cream liqueurs
Don Cuco Sotol Reposado in the American oak barrels, aged for 3 months to produce an excellent premium taste. Truly a warm and alluring appeal. The flavors are boundless as oak, caramel, butterscotch and almond can be tasted in this aged classic. Soon to be out in the market. The temptation can wait.
“Savoring Don Cuco Sotol Spirits is a budding romance that blossoms into an intense intimate drinking experience”.