The rise of rye: Melbourne Distillers to launch first 100% Australian rye whiskey range

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 10th September 2019

Melbourne based distillers, The Gospel Distillers today announced the launch of new Rye Whiskey range – the first of its kind to use 100% Australian ingredients and be hand-crafted and produced at scale. 

Produced using single-source unmalted rye from the Murray Mallee region in South Australia, the announcement follows a growing trend for the uptake of rye-based spirits being consumed in Australia which is now the second-largest Bourbon market in the world.  

Four years in the making, The Gospel comes from the same distilling duo that created boutique hooch brand, Melbourne Moonshine. The Gospel will launch first with a Solera Rye – a blend of multiple batches, processed through a bespoke Solera system in a combination of New American Oak and Australian Wine Barrels – and later with a Straight Rye Whiskey, both made in American style. 

The Brunswick-based distillery has been designed and constructed by The Gospel founders, Ben Bowles and Andrew Fitzgerald, and is the largest whiskey distillery in Australia, capable of producing five barrels of whiskey blend per shift. 

Building on traditions of American Rye and Bourbon distilleries, Bowles & Fitzgerald utilised backgrounds in engineering and construction to custom design a six-metre-high Column and Copper Pot Still. The Column Still, one of only a handful used in Australia, helps to retain the unique full flavours of The Gospel and is the only one designed and built entirely in-house. 

‘’It has been a long road to creating The Gospel but the results speak for themselves. What we’ve created is a unique blend of American style combined with 100% Australian ingredients and production‘’ said Ben Bowles, co-founder of The Gospel Distillers, who grew up in South Carolina. ‘’It’s a particularly exciting time to be producing in Australia with the growing popularity and demand for rye spirits.’

‘’With our Solera Rye, we wanted to create a ‘sessionable’ whiskey – something that can be enjoyed again and again and is available to everyone. We envision it as the drink of the summer, served with dry ginger ale and a slice of orange. The spice & creme caramel flavours work well in the bartender classics like an Old Fashioned or a Sazerac.’’  

In addition to the original distilling talent of Jason Pignon, Bowles & Fitzgerald selected a high calibre team to work alongside them on The Gospel, enlisting the services of Ian Thorn (previously Production and Technical Manager at Starward Whisky for seven years) and Alex Poulsen (previously Head Distiller for Hippocampus Distillery, six years). 

The Gospel Distillers have also had a wealth of advisory and brand expertise behind them in the form of director Jamie Duff and brand architect, Kelvin Soh. VC investor and ex-CEO / co-founder of Stolen Rum, Duff, has over six years of experience in the international drinks market and previously worked with Soh to build and design the Stolen Rum brand. Soh, the founder and Creative Director of New Zealand based design agency DDMMYY has been a driving force behind the branding of The Gospel and has a previous track record of guiding the identity of several international spirits brands. 

The first official tastings of The Gospel Solera Rye (42.5% ABV) will take place during Sydney Bar Week at the Indie Spirits session (15th September, Restaurant Hubert) and will be available in trade, distributed by Vanguard Luxury Brands, from 16th September. The Gospel Rye Whisky (45% ABV) is set for release in early 2020.