Liquid Diet: Hop Flavored Whiskey

Sons of Liberty has reimagined warm weather spirits.

Sons of Liberty summer whiskey

Rhode Island’s Sons of Liberty Spirits Co. will soon release its summer whiskey infused with hops.

Sons of Liberty owner Michael Reppucci admits that his drink of choice, especially in warmer weather, is a gin and tonic. That disclosure might seem taboo for a guy who only makes whiskey and vodka at his Rhode Island distillery, but then again, Reppucci tends to gravitate toward the unorthodox.

“In the spirits world, when I think summertime, I think gin. I love it, but we don’t make one here because they’ve never turned out well,” he says. “I figure, if I can’t compete with ones that are already on the market like St. George, which I love, then why bother.”

His answer to this conundrum was to approach whiskey like a brewer. “I thought, if whiskey starts as a beer—malted barley, water, and yeast—why is there no seasonal whiskey?”

To emulate the botanical elements of gin, Reppucci began experimenting with different varieties of hops to create a “marriage between the beer and spirits world.” Sons of Liberty hop flavored whiskey is brewed like an India Pale Ale, with Cascade hops added in the boil and a secondary, dry-hopping of Citra and Sorachi Ace hops added after fermentation. The whiskey is then lightly-barrel aged to add color and complexity.

“I don’t want the same dark, peaty, smokey whiskey that I drink with cigars in the winter,” says Reppucci. “This is intentionally a younger, lighter whiskey with the same citrus notes you might get from a summer beer with a slice of lemon.”

This is Sons of Liberty’s second vintage of their summer whiskey, which they anticipate releasing to the market sometime in April. Last year’s production of hop flavored whiskey [1,800 bottles] went fast, so they’ve doubled production in 2014.

“There’s no beginner’s guide to dry-hopping whiskey, so we really had a lot of trial and error when making this,” says Reppucci. “It’s easy today to chuck a bunch of hops into something, just to be novel or different. But for us it was making a product that was in balance. It drinks like a whiskey, but then at the back end you’re like, ‘My god, that’s an IPA!'”

SOL Hopped Negroni: 

2 ounces Sons of Liberty hop flavored whiskey

1 ounce sweet vermouth

1 ounce Aperol

Combine 2 ounces bourbon, 1 ounce Aperol, and 1 ounce sweet vermouth (preferably Antica Formula) in a large mixing glass filled with ice. Stir until glass is very cold, about 1 minute. Strain into a chilled coupe or a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.

SOL Whiskey and Tonic:

2 ounces Sons of Liberty hop flavored whiskey

4 ounces of tonic water

A wedge of lime

Pour the bourbon and tonic water into a highball glass almost filled with ice cubes. Stir well. Garnish with the lime wedge.