Why can’t the United States have a really good single-malt whiskey? This is the question that the founder of Sons of Liberty Spirits Company, Narragansett native Michael Reppucci asked himself as he was studying at the London Business School. During his time in the U.K., Reppucci became accustomed to drinking Scotch – really good Scotch – and was inspired to create something just as drinkable in the United States. Shortly after returning, Reppucci worked with retired Maker’s Mark Master Distiller David Pickerell for three years to fully understand the whiskey distilling process from soup to nuts. The result is a craft distillery in South Kingstown, the first whiskey maker in Rhode Island since Prohibition, which launched last December. Sons of Liberty’s flagship single-malt whiskey, Uprising, is exclusively available in Rhode Island at over 170 restaurants and package stores throughout the state.
How is single-malt whiskey different from typical American whiskey? American whiskey is usually made from a mash of grains such as corn, barley and wheat. Single-malt refers to the use of one type of grain; Uprising is strictly made from a blend of malted barley imported from the U.K. All whiskey starts as a form of beer and this is where its flavor profile, the backbone of the whiskey, develops. The backbone of Uprising comes from an unhopped stout beer made with the malted barley blend that delivers coffee and dark chocolate flavors. Once distilled, it is transferred to lightly toasted oak barrels, which account for the vanilla and mocha notes that are very distinct in the final product. Uprising is a very young whiskey, aged just under a year, as showcased by its very light color.
So how does one drink this young, craft whiskey? On the rocks is the purest way to experience Uprising. Other ways would be in a traditional high ball with Uprising and ginger ale; on the rocks with a twist of lemon rind; used in a Manhattan; or in a Nor’easter, which consists of Barritt’s Ginger Beer, Uprising and a dash of bitters. Reppucci wanted to provide imbibers with a true whiskey experience.
Sons of Liberty Spirits Company has plans beyond Uprising, including the mid-May release of Loyal 9, a cucumber mint vodka, and a seasonal line of whiskey that will be ready by fall. Reppucci is aiming for a seasonal limited release of his new products, which allows him to enjoy the creativity that his craft distillery offers. Just as the Sons of Liberty were vital to the American Revolution, Uprising is an opportunity to revolutionize whiskey for those wanting to support local, craft spirits.
Head to the distillery on Wednesdays between 10am–4pm and on Saturdays between 10am–2pm for a free tour.