Sons of Liberty is changing how Rhode Islanders drink whiskey– and taking you behind the scenes
Providence has landed a spot in the top 10 Travel and Leisure “Best Craft Beer” cities in the country (but yeah, we did get beat out by Missouri; sorry everyone). With beer season upon us, everyone is in a cinnamon-sugar-rim frenzy and hard alcohol connoisseurs may justly feel left in the dust. Sure, cocktails change with the weather and pretty much any flavor vodka can and is made with a simple squirt of faux flavor into the bottle (Cotton Candy Burnett’s anyone? No? Didn’t think so), but fresh, seasonal, craft spirits are few and far between.
RI is combating this phenomenon: “We’re trying to revolutionize the way Americans drink whiskey,” began Bryan Ricard. And who better to start a revolution than the Sons of Liberty? Ricard is addressing a group of four of us on a Saturday afternoon as we begin a tour of the Sons of Liberty’s South Kingstown distillery.
I don’t drink whiskey. I find the smell overwhelming. The last time I took a shot of whiskey I instantly threw it back up (the epitome of class). I don’t actually drink any hard booze at all if it’s not in a cocktail. I’m what one might call, “a little bitch.” But here I am, standing between three whiskey enthusiasts, as I pretend that I’m not dreading the tasting to follow the tour. Ricard, the resident brewer/distiller, is clearly in love with the craft. He brings us into a surprisingly small, immaculately clean room and gets down to business, explaining the cook from step one: brewing the beer.
Yes, that’s right, whiskey comes from beer. This is where Sons of Liberty’s revolution finds its roots. Instead of using flavorless beers like most other distillers use, “Why not brew the beers we love to make a flavor of whiskey that we love?” Ricard proposed the seemingly obvious concept.
Better yet, why not go a step further and distill the drink with fresh ingredients, like they brew with beer, to produce seasonal flavors? We wound up at a bin of pumpkins, to be cooked with the fall batch. The tour continued around the room to each machine as Ricard explained, very thoroughly at that, what a regular day in the distillery was like, displaying each machine more impressive than the other.
The tour spilled out into a tasting bar where Ricard passes us off to owner, Mike Reppucci, to take in the next round – a bachelor party. Now for the part I was dreading. Reppucci poured us a taste of their original whiskey, Uprising. Stout flavors took the harsh bite and smell away upon first sip but, alas, it still finishes like a whiskey and I’m still a pansy. Reppucci knowledgeably explained each taste as we progressed – three whiskeys in total, each went down smoother. The Pumpkin Spice blend didn’t even smell like alcohol and was mellow through the finish. This, warmed with cider, would be dangerously fantastic.
Next were the vodkas – Loyal 9 – RI’s first (according to Sons of Liberty). It’s filtered 99 times, to the point that it’s odorless. Along with its original, we sampled a Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean and a Mint Cucumber, each tasting exactly as they claim to, each with a very mellow bite.
Samplers each left with a SOL whiskey glass. After buying a bottle of Mint Cucumber Loyal 9, I noticed “Mike Reppucci” autographed down the side. When SOL expands past Mass and RI and inevitably blows up, give me a call. I’ll sell it to you for copious amounts of money.
Want to find out more about the brews? Click Here
Tours are every Half hour from noon to 4pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays
1425 Kingstown Rd
South Kingstown, RI