A Whiskey Revolution Rising in the Ocean State
One small distillery tucked away in Kingston, Rhode Island has set out on revolutionizing the future of American whiskey.
“Every revolution begins with an Uprising,” said Bryan Ricard of Sons of Liberty Spirits Company, referring to the first whiskey produced by the company, Uprising.
In 2009, Mike Reppucci created the business plan to fulfill his version of the American Dream. Along with a few friends, they set out to revolutionize how people viewed American whiskey.
Fast-forward to December 2011, Sons of Liberty released their first batch of Uprising with great success. The following year they began to release seasonal flavors, such as pumpkin spice and hop flavored.
The guys at Sons of Liberty make whiskey much of the same way as anyone else, except for one important ingredient: the beer.
Typically, the spirit begins as a thick, fermented mash of of cooked grains, water and yeast often referred to as distiller’s beer. This “beer” closely resembles a watered-down and almost flavorless beer.
“We brew like everyone else, except with more emphasis on the beer,” Ricard said.
Their spirits begin as surprisingly flavorful and drinkable beers. Depending on the final product, they will brew three different types of beer. Uprising begins as a stout, Battle Cry begins as a Belgian strong ale, and their True Born Gin starts off as a citrusy Belgian Wheat.
The unique attention to the beer is only the first of three distinct layers of flavor in Sons of Liberty’s spirits. The second layer comes from mocha and vanilla staves, or wooden planks, that are placed in the vats before the the liquid is transferred into oak barrels. The whiskey is aged in 10 gallon barrels for an average of one year.
The taproom is filled with dozens of barrels on display, while hundreds more sit in the barrel room in the back.
The taproom also gets a steady flow of visitors each week for tours and tastings. Special events also draw a crowd including a local farmers market and Freedom Fridays, an event featuring food trucks and live music on the last Friday of every month.
Just like craft brewers, craft distillers use festivals and other events to get their names out to consumers and represent their brand.
A big draw Sons of Liberty has over the competition is the sampling of their beer. It gives people a sense of where the spirits come from.
The guys are currently in the process of obtaining a brewing license so they can eventually sell both.
Over the past three years, Sons of Liberty has won over 50 national and international awards for their products. This year alone they have won gold in the North American Bourbon and Whiskey Competition, gold in the World Whiskies Awards and were even nominated Craft Whiskey Producer of the Year.