IN GOOD SPIRITS: Mike Reppucci, owner of Sons of Liberty Spirits Co., shows off his whiskey. He makes it in 3,000 square feet of leased space in the Peacedale Mill complex with distilling equipment that includes a 20-foot-tall, 250-gallon Vendome copper still.
It’s become a common question-and-answer scenario when Mike Reppucci tells someone about his business, Sons of Liberty Spirits Co.
“Did you know that whiskey starts as beer?” Reppucci asks.
“No kidding?” is usually the response.
“We brew a stout beer and we turn it into whiskey,” Reppucci says.
“I’m Mike and I make it in Rhode Island,” Reppucci says as a personal introduction.
“No kidding? You make whiskey in Rhode Island?”
Yes, Reppucci makes whiskey in 3,000-square-feet of leased space in the Peacedale Mill complex with distilling equipment that includes a 20-foot-tall, 250-gallon Vendome copper still. It was made by a fourth-generation Kentucky business, Vendome Copper and Brass Works, which serves the brewing industry worldwide.
“We had to bump out a section of the roof so it would fit,” Reppucci said.
He also bumped out a section of a career path in finance that he thought might lead to something like a hedge fund.
Reppucci majored in business and economics at Brown University and worked in finance for eight years. Then he went to get a master’s degree in finance at London Business School.
“While I was over there, I drank a lot of scotch,” he said.
By now, he is used to explaining a difference that became clear to him and led to Sons of Liberty Spirits Company.
“All whiskey is a spirit distilled from grains. The American whiskey tradition is defined by bourbon. Bourbon is over 50 percent corn,” Reppucci said. “Single-malt whiskey is over 50 percent malted barley. And scotch is a domain-specific designation. It’s a single-malt whiskey made in Scotland.”
He spotted a niche market in the U.S.
“Why is no one doing the stout beers we love and turning them into whiskey?” he thought.
So he decided to do it. The name Sons of Liberty is in the spirit of revolutionizing American whiskey, and the spirit of the American dream – taking a leap onto a path that calls to you.
“At the time, I was 30 years old, had a good background in finance and no experience in running a distillery,” he said.
At first, he took his business plan to private investors but found little interest.
He decided to self-finance, which seemed the easiest and most direct route to launching the business. He got a federal distiller’s license.