When most people think of American whiskey, they think of bourbon, which is made primarily from corn. A single malt Scotch on the other hand, is made only from malted barley. In the brewing world, barley is king, and grains like corn or rice are typically used only as cost saving measures. As lovers of both beer and whiskey, the founders of Sons of Liberty (SOL), Rhode Island’s second distillery since prohibition, set out to make a whiskey that starts out as a really good beer, using only barley and keeping as much malt character as possible. The North Kingston-based distillery’s flagship whiskey, Uprising, incorporates the same roasted and chocolate malts that give a stout its dark color and coffee and chocolate like flavors. Despite being a relatively young whiskey with only faint notes of oak, Uprising has been a great success for the distillery, as it should be. A double distillation to 130 proof strikes the perfect balance between smooth and flavorful. Further distillation and that stout character would start to disappear, take it to a higher proof and it would be too rough around the edges.
SOL is taking the beer love one step further this summer, with a limited release of its new summer seasonal, Hop Flavored Whiskey. Created with guidance from Connecticut’s Cottrell Brewery, this whiskey starts out as an IPA, and the hop character is kept throughout the distillation process. After barrel aging, it is finished by dry hopping with Citra and Sorachi Ace hops. When drinking, it starts like a whiskey and finishes like an IPA; its crisp citrus and floral flavors are perfect for summer.
The SOL Seasonals line kicked off last winter with Pumpkin Spice Whiskey. To give it a true pumpkin flavor without the saccharin taste common to flavored spirits, it was barrel aged with 900 pounds worth of roasted, locally grown pumpkin from Four Town Farm. It makes for a deliciously unique Old Fashioned or Manhattan.
Rounding out SOL’s current offerings is their Loyal 9 vodka, an exceptionally smooth vodka that is filtered upward of 99 times. Loyal 9 is the base for two more seasonal liquors: Mint Cucumber Vodka and Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Vodka. The Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean is made with roasted raw cacao beans and vanilla beans, giving it the pleasantly bitter flavor of baker’s chocolate. It would make an awesome chocolate martini. Mint Cucumber is made with locally grown mint and cucumbers, and would be perfect in a mojito.
The distillery offers tours and tastings and is located at 1425 Kingstown Road in South Kingstown. For $10 you can sample the whiskeys and vodkas, learn about the distilling process, and take a peek at their sweet Vendome copper still, imported from Louisville. Tours run every Saturday and Wednesday from 12-4 pm and start every half hour with the last one at 3:30 pm. Check out the website, www.solspirits.com, for contact info, recipes and vendors.