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Whiskey Review: Gospel Straight Rye Whiskey

Editor’s note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by The Gospel. This in no case, by our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the purchase link at the bottom of this review, our site receives a small sponsorship payment which helps support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

I have to start by sharing the complete absurdity (in the best possible way) of the press kit that came with this bottle of The Gospel Straight Rye Whiskey. It included a letter on acetate in a font to make it look like it had been typed on an old-school typewriter. A picture of Hugh Jackman to show me what an Aussie looks like while making it clear he has nothing to do with this whiskey and doesn’t endorse it. A bottle of sunscreen if I come to Australia and need protection. And a cassette, something I still haven’t listened to because I haven’t owned a cassette player since trading in my Suzuki Esteem 2000. That was my first introduction to what Gospel music distillery is all about.

The Gospel is a distillery located in Melbourne, Australia. Their press kit was perfect for something out of Melbourne. Melbourne remains my favorite city in Australia even though I only spent one day there on my one-year working holiday visa. A day where I managed to fit in visits to a total of eight bars and breweries. This kit from The Gospel perfectly captures the quirky, passionate, and hospitable city I experienced during my visit. What also struck me was how far this marketing is from the bottle. The bottle itself is very simple, with a simple label and simple lettering. It makes no statement, makes no effort to be the star of the back bar, it’s a simple and effective design.

The Gospel started in 2019. They have an in-depth and interesting read about their master distiller, Ian Thorn, who helped them settle down with the intention of finding someone to take over before finally deciding that he would run operations. If you want to know more about his thought process and experimentations, the lower third of the article on Ian is quite fascinating.

Their process is pretty clearly laid out on their website here. In short, they start with rye from a single farm in Murray Mallee. The unmalted rye is ground and then processed in their mash tun before being transferred to their fermentation tanks for a few days. After fermentation, they do one pass through their six-foot column still and a second distillation in their copper pot still. Their new brand is then aged in two different systems; their solera rye is barrel-aged in a five-tier solera system, and their straight rye is aged a minimum of two years in new American oak (at varying levels of char). Things are then blended, filtered and bottled in batches.

Something that appears in several places on their website is that they never intended to make a rye like the American rye. I can confirm that they did not. This product captures a regional style all its own.

The Gospel Straight Rye whiskey (image via Ian Arnold)

Tasting Notes: The Gospel Straight Rye Whiskey

Vital Stats: 45% ABV, 100% unmalted Australian rye, aged a minimum of two years in new charred American oak barrels. $50 per 750ml bottle.

Appearance: Light honey color with thick slow legs.

Nose: It smells like a cup of black tea and honey. There are other herbal notes that don’t get pronounced enough to get past just being mixed with the smell of black tea. There is also a bit of yeast in the nose. I really enjoy the way this smells.

Palace: Clean and crisp are the first two thoughts on drinking this. The flavors largely match the nose with a few other subtleties. I get that tea and honey flavor with subtle baking spices, lemon oil and black pepper. The finish has a very light burn with the tannin sitting with me. A few drops of water and it feels much thicker on the palate, the flavors stay light and more like a honey brushed pastry, not so sweet and a bit milder in flavor. The finish has a hint of mint after adding water.