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Move Over, Mezcal. A Sustainable Tequila Alternative Is Taking Over.

In the Chihuahuan desert, a plant that grows wild, without a drop of water, could change the spirits industry. Its leaves are long and spindly, growing in a circular pattern, and are sometimes used for weaving baskets and craft decorations by indigenous communities. It is the hardy, drought-tolerant Dasylirion wheeleri, or desert spoon. The plant springs up across the Chihuahuan desert, which covers parts of Mexico and stretches into the southwestern United States, dotting the landscape with spiky orbs of deep green and silvery blue. But it’s more than just foliage—the desert spoon plant also offers a great opportunity to bartenders the world over. When harvested, the plant produces a spirit that, at first sniff, could easily be mistaken for tequila, although there are earthy and vegetal aromas that set it apart. The spirit, sotol, often boasts a deep minerality and notes of caramel, mint and stone fruit on the palate. The finish is silky smooth, with hints of oak.