Agave et al spirits

Just thought I’d open up a thread about agave spirits since there doesn’t seem to be one specifically dedicated to it yet. I’m open to any discussion on the subject but I’ve particularly been hoping to find out:

  1. Anybody have a good body of knowledge about the definitions and distinctions between types of agave spirits (and related boozes) including mezcal, tequila, bacanora, sotol, raicilla, etc?
  2. Anyone know good sources in SoCal to sniff out the above? I’m particularly looking for places to purchase bottles, not taste in a bar.

To give some context, I’m not a big drinker of any of these spirits (more of a whiskey neat person) but someone close to me works at a mezcal bar so I’m starting to look into the subject.

As far as purchasing in SoCal, I’ve been to both Ramirez Liquor locations in Boyle Heights, Beverage Warehouse in Mar Vista, Leyva’s Liquor in Tijuana, and am planning to visit Old Town Liquor in San Diego at some point (although they seem to cost an arm and a leg). I’m based in LA so recommendations in the greater metropolitan area are welcome but I’m willing to drive a few hours if there’s a particularly good source further out.

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K&L has a large selection.

Me and my bartender friend checked out K&L Hollywood specifically looking for bacanora and sotol and they didn’t have that (which I understand) but they did have it at Ramirez Liquor. This was a few years back though, so that may have changed. My friend also wasn’t real impressed by the associate helping us at K&L but that was just whomever they had manning the floor and probably not a specialist for agave spirits.

EDIT: Just checked out K&L’s website and saw that they have a search function that includes what they have in inventory at specific stores. That’s awesome! Thanks for putting it back on my radar, @robert

You can also order stuff from the warehouse online and pick it up at the store when it arrives.

Hi times in Costa Mesa is pretty darn good for mezcal. They usually have 5+ bottles of sotol as well. Definitely worth a visit if you’re in Orange County.

Wow, they have a bacanora even cheaper than the same distiller from Leyva’s (although it may be a different expression). Thanks for the recommendation!