We’re fortunate to have an amazing number of breweries, wineries, and distilleries in the Texas Hill Country that rival some of the best in the world. Whether you’re after a full-bodied IPA or small-batch bourbon, a locally-made product is waiting to be discovered. One of those distilleries that is turning heads is Desert Door Distillery.
It received the honor of being named USA Today’s #1 craft distillery in the country in 2019 and produces arguably the best sotol in the Lone Star state.
What is Sotol?
If you’re unfamiliar with sotol, it’s a spirit made from the sotol plant which grows in the Chihuahuan Desert in the American Southwest and northern Mexico. There’s a good chance that if you’ve driven through West Texas, you’ve seen sotol plants growing out on the prairie. The small plants look similar to an agave plant, and their leaves were often woven into mats and baskets by Native American tribes.
For the purposes of Desert Door Distillery though, the plants are harvested, cooked down, and pressed to extract their molasses-like juices which are then fermented and distilled in Desert Door’s custom-built, hybrid still.
It All Started With a Class Project
Distilling sotol into liquor is nothing new (it dates back thousands of years), but what sparked the idea to launch a sotol distillery in nearby Driftwood took shape in 2016. Ryan Campbell, Judson Kauffman, and Brent Looby were students in the MBA program at UT Austin and enrolled in a class called New Venture Creation. A class project tasked students with presenting business ideas for a startup and Kauffman suggested a sotol distillery after remembering his uncle’s stories of locals in Fort Stockton making liquor from the plant.
Not only did the three men win their class project, but they liked the idea enough to pursue making it a reality and opened Desert Door Distillery in 2017.
What to Expect
Sotol is often compared to tequila or a smoky mezcal, but the taste is a little brighter and it often has earthy undertones. To get the ideal flavor with its sotol, the team at Desert Door Distillery tried different methods for cooking the plant – everything from baking it to roasting. The fellas eventually settled on steam because it gave a smoother flavor to the 80-proof spirit.
Stop by the distillery Thursday through Sunday and you can taste it for yourself in Desert Door’s tasting room (211 Darden Hill Rd, Driftwood, TX), or even take a tour to see firsthand how it all comes together.
After sipping on the local spirit, grab a bite to eat at Lo Salvaje food truck. The local food truck is parked at the distillery during its operating hours and serves up wild game-inspired food created by chef Stephanie Stackhouse. The distillery also regularly features live music with a range of performers on its calendar, running the musical gamut from country to blues and Americana.
Considering that Desert Door Distillery is a mere 5 miles from Dripping Springs, this local gem is a must-visit if you enjoy good spirits, good food, and good music. To learn more about Dripping Springs and to find your dream home here, contact the Caliterra team.
Image from Desert Door