Rhode Island Spirits Has a New Home at a Prime Pawtucket Location

The Pawtucket-based distillery, home to Rhodium brand liquors, plans to reopen in a new location in late March.
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Kara Larson (left) and Cathy Plourde in the new Rhode Island Spirits tasting room, which is still under renovation and expected to open in late March. (Photos by Lauren Clem)

Rhode Island Spirits never had it easy.

The distillery, which produces vodka, gin and liquers under the brand name Rhodium, opened in 2019 during a government shutdown that interfered with their ability to get the FDA to sign off on their recipes.

Then, just as they were celebrating their first anniversary, a pandemic struck.

Now, four years into their run as Pawtucket’s second distillery, the business is getting a fresh start in a new home, right across the street from the city’s newly opened commuter train station.

“We’ve gotten love letters from people who live in the neighborhood saying, ‘We can’t wait,’” says Cathy Plourde, who co-owns the distillery with her wife, Kara Larson.

The search for a new home began about a year ago. While their old space, located in the same complex as the Burbage Theatre Company on the other side of the Blackstone River, worked for making vodka, it was less ideal for getting people and product in and out. They found this out during the pandemic, when distribution suddenly became a much larger part of their business, and moving freight in and out of the building’s tight access points proved challenging.

Larson shared their situation with the Guild owners Jeremy Duffy and Devin Kelly. It turned out the brewery owners had a solution.

“The owners and I were talking about our conundrum one day and they said, ‘Well, come take a walk with us,’” she recalls.

The new space is located on the Guild’s campus at the former William H. Haskell Manufacturing Company, with its own entrance on Bayley Street (around the block from the Guild’s main entrance). The space previously hosted a music studio but was sitting empty as a part of the brewery co-op’s sprawling footprint when Plourde and Larson made the decision to lease.

The two owners say they’re excited to work closely with the Guild, with whom they already had a friendly relationship, and even more excited to be located a short stroll from the Pawtucket-Central Falls Transit Center. The train station opened last month and is already being hailed as an economic development boost for the neighborhood.

“There’s other attractions within walking distance of the train station, but we’re by far the closest,” says Larson. “We feel like we’re a great representative of what Pawtucket is becoming. You can stop here, have a beer, go to Slater Mill, or wherever.”

In addition to a fifty-seat tasting room, the new space includes the distillery, entryway, office and a separate lounge area. Plourde says it’s better equipped for tours and cocktail classes they hope to offer and will also allow them to continue expanding production. Sales of the Coffee and Black Walnut Vodka, one of their most popular sellers, increased by 30 percent last year.

With equipment in transit this week, they hope to host a grand reopening by the end of March. In the meantime, regulars are eager for the return of their favorite distillery. Some, says Larson, have even come in to help them paint the walls.

“I have caught current customers looking in the door,” she says.

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A paw print in the tasting room at the new location is from Plourde’s rescue mutt, Tucker, who was adopted from the Providence Animal Rescue League.



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