In many ways, COVID proved to be the 21st Century version of Prohibition to the many resurgent distillers who began selling their products, giving tours of their plants, and opening tasting rooms in the last dozen or so years. With the end of the pandemic, one of Rhode Island’s first and most-decorated distillers, Sons of Liberty, is hosting a Grand Reopening event on Saturday, May 27 after being closed since March 2020. And boy, do they have a lot to celebrate! It’s like the distilling gods and the ghosts of rumrunners who plied the inlets and coves of Narragansett Bay and the South Coast came together to deliver just in time for this event.
In the first week of May, at Whisky Magazine’s 2023 World Whiskies Awards, Sons of Liberty took home four awards for flavored whiskies, with their coffee-flavored taking gold, honey and apple winning silver, and maple earning a bronze award. Mike Reppucci, President, and founder, said, “It’s one thing to believe your own product is good, but it’s an honor to be awarded by Whisky Magazine.” When they reopen, customers will also be able to enjoy Chair 2 light beer and two new product lines developed by Reppucci; Lani Sangria (Red and White), and Bar on Board (B.o.B), a variety of low abv vodka cocktails.
The reopening and renovations are impressive. While touring about 10 days before the event, work was progressing nicely, and it was easy to see the changes made. Marketing Director, Bryan Ricard, pointed out some of the renovations and innovations. A wall had been knocked down to make more room for patrons, to improve the flow, and possibly to create a space for private parties. This leads to extended bar space and lots more hardwood being installed for extra seating capacity. Although, as a nod to their returning loyal customer base, they did keep one section of the original bar and may place a plaque to commemorate it. Painting the black cinder block ceiling and hanging early 20th Century light fixtures, the former industrial building in South Kingstown looks like an old-school speakeasy.
The reconfigured space also allows for staff to operate more easily, no more circling around the bar to replenish and restock. Not to mention, part of the innovation is a refrigerated tap system that pipes in many customer favorites and even mixed cocktails. There will also be plenty of merchandise available, but it won’t be at a separate kiosk, the bar staff will handle those sales. They were able to bring back some old staff but have added new employees too, including tasting room manager Susan Denice who came over from Shepherd’s Run. Another difference will be a change in scheduled tours, something the distillery had gotten away from before COVID hit. Ricard told me the demand had decreased, and staff has as well, so now if the process innovations and staffing allow, and enough people ask, they may be able to accommodate tours.
As for the reopening event, it will include PVD Food Truck Events and a lineup of their vendors, and live music performances by Brian James Soul Jazz from 1-4 pm, followed by BT Allstars Quintet running from 4:30-7 pm. Eric Weiner of PVD Food Trucks offered, “We are thrilled to be partnering with Sons of Liberty once again as they open their tasting room and look forward to having food trucks to celebrate and…regular visits throughout the season.”
The event is free, there will be on-site and free shuttle parking at Peace Dale Elementary School – 109 Kersey Rd, Wakefield, RI 02879. No tickets or reservations are required. The event is family-friendly, but service animals only. For more information, visit the event page or call (401) 284-4006.
The schedule following the event for the tasting room will begin on Thursday, June 1st. Thursday and Friday 5-9 pm, Saturday 2-9 pm and Sunday 11 am-6 pm.