When I walked through the front door at Son’s of Liberty Spirits Company I was surprised – shocked even. I’ve been to a few other distilleries that are transitioning over to doing more cocktails and trying to create a more bar-like atmosphere to encourage visitors to come and hangout and enjoy the house-made spirits but this place had met that to the max. From the front gift shop area I couldn’t even see the back wall through the crowd of happy patrons drinking cocktails and beers, gathered with friends around tables and along the bars.
This was certainly a different scene than I was used to encountering in most of my distillery visits. It even crossed my mind that maybe this place wasn’t a distillery at all, but just a front and that the distillery was at a different location all together. I have always been skeptical about the attempts of new distilleries to be both a distillery and a nightclub thinking that one of the two must suffer.
Caught off guard a bit by the liveliness of this scene, I was just catching the vibe of the room when Cameron Hatchinson came over to meet me. Cameron was to be my host for the first half of my visit. He escorted me past the cocktail bar and giant-jenga and we took a right turn through a roped-off doorway into another large room. Now this was more of what I was accustomed to. This was the still-house and although empty of happy imbibers, this room was full of the normal things I expected to find in a distillery. Off to one side was the large copper Vendome still and the room was appointed with the usual hoses and pumps and tanks and fermenters. And although they were not presently distilling, my olfactory could detect faint nuances of recent runs. To me this space was quiet and much more familiar.
Cameron shared with us that Son’s of Liberty is not only a distillery but a Brewery too.
After spending ample time with the distilling equipment it was time to move on as there was more to see. Walking out of the still-house room back into the activity of the bar-room I was even more delighted with party atmosphere as I glanced over my shoulder back at the distilling equipment and was amused that these two completely different worlds could be a doorway apart. We walked through the din of music and laughter across the floor to another door and into a cavernous chamber. The door closed behind us, and I was again met with the silence of more familiar surroundings.
This room was their barrel warehouse. Throughout the length of this chamber were racks of different batches of aging spirits. I explored in and between the stacks reading the labeled barrel-heads like an aspiring scholar perusing book-spines in a library. The weeping barrels, here and there, dripping with spirit-sap always catch my eye and my interest.
Cameron led me though to another room. This was the backroom of the cocktail bar with shelves full of hundreds of concoctions and bitters and home-made liquors used in their custom libations. A watermelon on a stainless steel table waited for slaughter. Cameron grasped the handle of a heavy metal door and heaved to the left and we were once again back in the party.
I was introduced to Pat Cull for the second part of my tour. Pat is the General Manager of the establishments and he was eager for me to have a taste of the fruit of this distillery. We found a spot to sit and chatted with some other patrons that joined us at the other end of our long table as Pat left us to prepare our tasting.
Through the crowd Pat soon reappeared balancing two racks of glasses and bottles of beers. I slid over and Pat joined us placing our flights on the table. Before us we each had glasses of UpRising Single Malt, UpRising Single Malt PX-aged, Battle Cry single malt, and Battle Cry Single Barrel. Accompanying the whiskey flight were chilled bottles of beer. Not just any beer but the beer that these whiskeys were distilled from.
Pat talked our way through the beer tasting, helping us to glean the most from our glasses of beer. Then we began the whiskey portion of the tasting. I needed no help to find the beer-roots in the corresponding whiskeys; after tasting the beers it was easy to taste the subtle similarities in the whiskies from which they were made. My two favorites of the flight were the Battle Cry and UpRising PX. Battle Cry is a single malt whiskey that’s distilled from their Belgian-style ale. UpRising PX, starts as their UpRising single malt which is made from darker malts usually used in stout beers. Then they finish some of their UpRising in Pedro Ximenez sherry barrels to create this special release – this was my favorite.
As we were finishing our afternoon visit they were setting up for a band and more and more patrons were coming in. It’s easy to see why so many new craft distilleries are trying to go this route of being both a distillery and a social destination spot. Before this visit I wasn’t sure you could do both without sacrificing one, but now I’m convinced.
Here is their info if you want to have your own experience at Son’s of Liberty Distillery: 1425 Kingstown Road, South Kingstown, RI 02879 (401)284-4006
[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Son’s of Liberty Distillery Visit – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]