If you’re a whiskey drinker, then I ask that you bow your head with us in prayer.
Tonight whiskey is calling to you as it has never done before and asking you to partake of a full-bodied, slightly spicy, drier taste.
You see before you is a bottle of The Gospel. And The Gospel is the truth of Rye Whiskey
So join us as we pray that those seeking to understand more about where it all began and how it is made. Allow our prays to guide those attempting to fully understand the power that is The Gospel.
We ask you to not judge those who seek out false whiskeys but instead steer them towards the light and help them to understand the story and message that The Gospel tells.
We ask all this in the name of Whiskey
Two Melbourne distillers, Ben Bowles and Andrew Fitzgerald, have come forward to declare an unvarnished truth. And that is simply that if whiskey is religion, then rye is the bible.
And this is true in the US. at least, where Rye was the original grain. Although distilling in the new world was started by Scotch-Irish immigrants, they couldn’t use traditional barley, as it didn’t adapt well to the new climate. Rye, however, did.
And it was in search of this truth, that after years of distilling moonshine in their south Melbourne distillery, Bowles and Fitzgerald were called on a pilgrimage-like journey through the US, where they were shown the way of enlightenment.
And it was from that knowledge that the pair started work on creating what is now The Gospel.
And like any gospel, the story has four parts. There is grain, distillation, ageing and flavour.
The Book Of Grain
“Rye whiskey is the true American whiskey,” said Bowles “Rye whiskey is the truth, so we used it to create The Gospel.”
On their return to Australia, the distillers sought out the best growing conditions for Rye that they could find. But they didn’t look for well-watered pastures and lush fields. Instead, they sought out their Rye from single source farms, just on the border of South Australia and Victoria.
In a region called the Murrey Mallee, where the climate is unforgiving and the land is hot and dry, this arid landscape was where The Gospel would take root.
“The region gets such little rainfall that it actually stresses the grain,” said Bowles. “Much like you do in wine, where they stress the grapes to intensify that flavour and concentrate that flavour into the grapes.”
What they were seeking was a smaller grain; a harder grain. For they knew that through this grain that nature had stressed would come a flavour that was more intense and bolder than normal.
“It’s harder to work with,” continued Bowles. “We don’t get as much alcohol. The yields are a bit lower, but it does give us a much bigger, more flavorful rye. We wanted that flavour because we wanted our rye whiskey to be really grain forward.
“It gives you a lot of cooking spices, actually. You almost get a little cinnamon and nutmeg clove, and a little bit of almost like liquorice, just a hint of liquorice flavour in there like star anise or aniseed flavour, but only just a hint.”
The Book of Distillation
Once they had settled on the grain, the next step for the distillers was settled on the type of still they would use for the distillation.
“What we have done is created, designed and built our stills completely in house. Unlike some bourbons and ryes out of the states, we only use the column still for the initial distillation but we don’t get our finished product off that still. Instead, we collect all the low wines off the distillation and we transfer those to the pot still and we finish in a pot still in a batch regime.”
If you were going to compare the style of The Gospel to whiskeys that are coming out of the states, Bowles believes there are two older-style Ryes that are produced in a very similar manner. He mentions that both Michter’s as well as Willett both run through a column and then they do a batch finish in a pot.
“Finishing in a pot still gives us a bit more control over the final spirit,” explained Bowles. “We’re able to really choose exactly the portions just by way of making the cuts we want. To do it on a column still, it would be very difficult and extremely technical.
“We wanted to finish in a pot still to make sure we were able to really get that fine control and we want to retain all that raw flavour in our spirit. We were looking to get that heavy flavour that we wanted out of the rye we’re producing.”
The Book Of Ageing
Once they had finished the distillation, they looked on the liquid they had produced and knew that it was good. The question then was how to age it?
If you have not come across the Solera method before it is a process for ageing liquids that are often used in the production of wine, beer, vinegar, and brandy. It works through a process of fractional blending in such a way that the finished product is a mixture of ages.
The beauty of the style is that the average age gradually increasing as the process continues over many years. And while it may be fairly labour intensive, this method ultimately ensures consistency, as new distillates are slowly introduced in what could be described as a never-ending ageing system.
“At the moment, we have about 20 barrels or thereabouts in this system. All the barrels are full, and as we start to draw spirit off of the bottom, it obviously drains down from the top, and then leaves a void in the top barrels, that needs to be filled. So we add new spirit at the top, and over time we’ll let that sit, and then we’ll draw off more.”
“The aim for in our soleras system is to get a continuous blend of everything; it’s about getting that consistency of product. At the moment we have heavy toast, light-char new American oak, for most of our barrels and at the bottom, the whiskey is finished in red wine barrels.“
The Book Of Taste
Bowles describes the spirit as having a natural sweetness to it and it has those really spicy flavours that they’re notorious in the rye. He talks of notes of cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg, as well as clove flavours that are achieved with the chemicals and esters from the distillate interacting with the wood.
“The Solera Rye is very much meant to be poured into cocktails and mixed,” said Bowles. “When they do look back at the history of cocktails, it’s easy to see that rye whiskey was used in all the classics. And that’s how we really want to see it used.
Bowles suggests that the Solera Rye works really well in Highball drinks, either with soda water or a little dry ginger ale. “With this style of drink, you can really get the flavours of the rye without anything else there to compete with it.
“The spice of the ginger really goes well with the spicy notes you get from the rye. Otherwise, it absolutely stands up in a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned. That was our inspiration for making rye in the first place was really to see it used in those classic cocktails.
“People are interested in new spirits, and while rye isn’t new, it’s certainly not easy to get,”said Bowles. “We really love rye whiskey, and it was just seeing the lack of rye whiskey out there that drove us to make it.”