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Sons of Liberty Is Leading the American Whiskey Revolution

By Pamela Sosnowski

In the U.S., whiskey is most often associated with states like Tennessee and Kentucky and big brand names like Jack Daniels and Jim Beam. But in the coastal suburb of South Kingstown, Rhode Island, a lesser-known distillery is making a name for itself as a game changer in the American whiskey industry: Sons of Liberty.

Founder Mike Reppucci was inspired by two unanswered questions when opening his facility: why is no one distilling single malt whiskies from the beers we love and why are there so many seasonal beers, but no seasonal whiskies?

"We, the Sons of Liberty, decided to take a different approach," Reppucci said. "If whiskey starts as beer, why was no one brewing the beers we love and turning those into whiskies? In December 2011 we launched our Uprising single malt whiskey, the first single malt distilled from a stout beer. Rather than focusing on flavor from barrel aging we focus on layering in flavor prior to the aging process, most notably from the beer itself."

The distillery's name is fitting given that the original Sons of Liberty helped kick off the American Revolution in 1765 to fight British rule and taxation. Likewise, South Kingstown's SOL has been racking up awards, nearly 75, and media attention for the revolutionary way it's making whiskey.

In addition to Uprising, the distillery makes other American craft single malts Uprising FX, Battle Cry, and Battle Cry Oloroso, each with its own unique flavor profile and finish. Several seasonal whiskeys that are perfect for the upcoming autumn months are available including apple, honey chamomile, and pumpkin spice (where fire-roasted pumpkins are infused into the whiskey.) SOL also produces a New England bourbon made with 100% Rhode Island grown corn, a gin, and several beers, given that they form the base for its main product line.

The warm, spacious tasting room is open Thursdays through Sundays. Visitors can sample whiskey or beer flights and cocktails and enjoy live music. A local food truck is usually on the premises to provide a bite to eat along with the libations. SOL also gives guided tours of its operations on Saturday afternoons only.

"We have a brand new, 6,000 square foot tasting room adjacent to our production area located in the Peacedale Mill," Reppucci said of the tasting area. "It's a very comfortable atmosphere with ample space to hang out with friends, play games and enjoy live music."

SOL has the distinction of currently being Rhode Island's only distillery, sharing company with the state's 15 beer breweries, but it's also the only liquor facility in the ocean state that makes both. It's a formula that's paying off, and paying homage to our country's original rebels.

"One of the best parts of doing what we do is the experimentation," Reppucci said. "We've already committed to not following too closely to the traditions of whiskey, so we've given ourselves a lot of opportunity to take risks and just see what happens. All of our employees really embody the American spirit by having the boldness to just go for it."

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