News Bites: Sons of Liberty Wins American Craft Producer of the Year / RI Quahog Week Kicks Off March 20th / Jo’s American Bistro Wins Newport Burger Bender

by David Dadekian

Current news releases—Eat Drink RI is not the source for these items—please follow any links for more information.

Sons of Liberty Named American Craft Producer of the Year at Whisky Magazine’s 2017 Icons of Whisky Awards

Rhode Island Craft Distillery Garners Top National Honors from Global Whisky Industry’s Most Prestigious Insider Awards Program

Whisky Magazine's Icons of Whisky Award

Sons of Liberty Beer & Spirits Co. was named American Craft Producer of the Year, last night, February 28th, at Whisky Magazine’s 2017 Icons of Whisky awards, presented in New York City at the Brandy Library. Sons of Liberty also took home several individual product awards with America’s Best Flavored Whiskey for its Gala Apple Seasonal Release and two Gold Medals in the American Single Malt category for its UPRISING and Battle Cry whiskies.

Judged exclusively by an editorial panel of decorated industry insiders, Whisky Magazine’s annual Icons of Whisky celebrates the finest companies and individuals in the whisky industry, with regional winners advancing to the global round.

“To say we’re ecstatic is an understatement. With more than 1,200 distilleries currently operating in the U.S. it is an incredible honor to be named an Icon of Whisky for 2017,” said Sons of Liberty Founder, Mike Reppucci. “Since day one we have strived to redefine American Spirits and the support we have received from the local community over the years has been invaluable in putting Sons of Liberty in the conversation with the world’s finest distilleries.”

No stranger to individual product recognition from Whisky Magazine in years past, Sons of Liberty has taken home World’s Best Flavored Whiskey (2014) for its Pumpkin Spice Seasonal Release, North America’s Best Flavored Whiskey (2015) for its Hop Flavored Seasonal Release and a Gold Medal (2016) for its Battle Cry Single Malt Whiskey, and now looks to capture the Global Craft Producer of the Year title won by Seattle WA’s Westland Distillery in 2016.

“It all starts with beer,” says Reppucci. “We craft our spirits from distinct styles of beer brewed on-site and those unique flavors carried through the distillation process have established our identity in redefining American craft spirits. Whiskey, specifically, is a very traditional industry, but you won’t find very much traditional with us. Now that we hold our brewer’s license, the goal is to offer the beers in our tasting room and give everyone the opportunity to taste the originating beer alongside the resulting spirit. A truly unique experience that we are very proud to have underway.”.

New England’s most awarded distillery with 75+ awards in blind tasting competitions since 2012, Sons of Liberty’s first product release was its signature, UPRISING Whiskey, born from a stout beer brewed by the team themselves. Sons of Liberty pushed the envelope one step further by introducing the first-ever, seasonal line of craft whiskies and since then has transitioned its beer-into-spirit methodology to the gin category with its True Born Gin. Recently acquiring its brewer’s license and expanding the distillery to feature a full bar and tasting room, Sons of Liberty is now serving and bottling the flavorful craft beers responsible for the distillery’s award winning whiskies.

2nd Annual Rhode Island Quahog Week Kicks Off On Monday

Quahog Week March 20-25, 2017

Governor Raimondo—along with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and other partners—will kick off the 2nd Annual Rhode Island Quahog Week with a special launch event at Save The Bay in Providence on Monday. Quahog Week, running March 20 – 25, highlights the importance of Rhode Island’s wild shellfish harvest to the state’s history, traditions, and economy.

WHERE: Save The Bay
100 Save The Bay Drive
Providence, Rhode Island

WHEN: Monday, March 20, 2017
12 – 2 p.m.

WHO: Governor Gina Raimondo
Janet Coit, DEM Director
Loren Spears, Tomaquag Museum
Chef Chris Kleyla, Statesman Tavern
David Ghigliotty, RI Shellfishermen’s Association

At the launch event, local shellfishermen will compete in a quahog shucking contest and educate guests on their profession. Guests will also enjoy a raw bar and creative preparations of the quahog, courtesy of RI Shellfishermen’s Association, Nicks On Broadway, The Capital Grille, Statesman Tavern, and Matunuck Oyster Bar. Beverages will be provided by Rhode Island’s own Granny Squibb’s Ice Tea.

Rhode Island is known for its food and diverse food cultures. The state’s booming local food sector supports more than 60,000 jobs and continues to attract and inspire the imagination of entrepreneurs and innovators. The local fishing industry has been, and continues to be, a vital part of the equation. Last year, more than 100 million pounds of seafood arrived to a local port – with an export value over $1 billion. And more than 28 million quahogs (off-the-boat value of $5.5 million) were harvested from Narragansett Bay and local coastal waters. Quahogging has a rich history locally, supporting the livelihoods of hundreds of fishermen as well as serving as a treasured pastime for Rhode Island families.

As part of the week, participating restaurants and markets will feature quahog-inspired menu items and deals, and Quahog Week partners will hold special events, including a quahog-themed Eating with the Ecosystem School of Fish Workshop on March 20 and the Official Beer of the Clam Wrap Party on Saturday, March 25 at the new headquarters of Narragansett Beer at The Guild in Pawtucket.

Quahog Week partners include Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, Dave’s Marketplace, Discover Newport, Eat Drink RI, Eating with the Ecosystem, Go Providence, Granny Squibb’s Ice Tea, Iggy’s Doughboys & Chowder House, Isle Brewers Guild, Johnson & Wales University, Narragansett Bay Lobsters, Narragansett Beer, RI Commerce, RI Department of Environmental Management, RI Shellfishermen’s Association, Save The Bay, Tomaquag Museum, the University of Rhode Island, and Yacht Club Soda.

For more information on Quahog Week and participating venues, visit Follow us on Facebook @RISeafoodRocks and join the conversation using #QuahogWeek.

Jo’s American Bistro Wins Inaugural Newport Burger Bender

The restaurant’s all-beef patty wins the hearts and palates of casual diners and critics alike

Newport Burger Bender 2017

Limited to just 25 participants, the Newport Burger Bender proved to be a savory success over its 10-day tenure with Jo’s American Bistro in Newport taking top honors. The “best burger” contest took place February 17 through February 26, 2017, in tandem with the Newport Winter Festival. Local chefs and restaurateurs were challenged to “bring the heat” by offering their best hamburger to diners who were encouraged to vote for their favorite. Burgers ranged from traditional beef patties to creative culinary delights.

“The secret is out: We have great burgers!” said Joann Carlson, owner of Jo’s American Bistro in Newport. “I especially want to thank my brilliant Chef, Brian Ruffner, for creating such a tasty and messy burger.”

A Critic’s Choice category was also presented with Gail Ciampa from the Providence Journal and naming three Critic’s Choice winners: Midtown Oyster Bar, Pour Judgement and Jo’s American Bistro.

“It was a tough choice,” admits Ciampa. “The fried oysters in the Oyster Bar Burger were amazing and Pour Judgement’s burger was a perfect bargain. But the bacon onion jam burger at Jo’s—so messy to eat, just like a good burger should be, was sweet and salty with bacon onion jam and spicy with siracha sauce, and then a wave of creamy cheese, too.” Ciampa paired Jo’s burger with Rhode Island’s own Foolproof beer. “What a delicious idea for a dining promotion. The Burger Bender put the spotlight on the All-American burger. But the choices were anything but ordinary as the chefs built their burgers with fabulous flavors and sauces. Long live the burger.”

The next big culinary extravaganza gourmands should mark on the calendar is Newport Restaurant Week, which will take place March 27 through April 7, 2017. For more information, visit

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