Name: Andrew Fitzgerald
Role at The Gospel: Co-Founder
Tell us a little bit about the history of The Gospel Whiskey and the journey of the company. The start of the Gospel was in and around 2016, Ben and I had already started our first distillery (Melbourne Moonshine) and we wanted to make a whiskey. After a number of random scenarios, we landed on a whiskey which ultimately we both love – Rye Whiskey.
From that moment on, we first had to retrofit our distillery so it could make Rye Whiskey (it’s a lot harder than most whiskies to make), and then start distilling and aging it. At the same time, we started work on the concept of the brand, and what it should be, both in look/name but also tone of voice/attitude. For us, an important aspect of developing the brand is that we wanted it to represent us as individuals. We landed on Gospel after our previous name fell through due to trademark issues. Gospel was really prompted by a search for Gospel records I was on at the time. Gospel, then turned to ‘The Gospel’ which we thought took the name a little further aware from the biblical interpretation and more toward meaning ‘The Truth’, which we really liked because that’s what we were all about.
Finally, we launched the brand in late 2019, with the whiskey hitting shelves in February 2020. Soon after, we rode the COVID storm like everyone else.
Co-founded by you and Ben, how did you meet? What’s the story behind this dynamic duo? Dynamic may be a bit of a stretch! Ben and I worked together in engineering. We first met in Perth in 2010 (ish). Ben is from South Carolina and is a true Southern gentleman in every sense of the term. Hard working, polite and loyal. We have both done our fair share of working long hours for the business but Ben seems to have mastered the 90 hour work week.
Why Whiskey, and specifically Rye Whiskey?
Whiskey has long been a love of mine and I feel a lot of the time can be misrepresented in either of two ways – either as a classist, stuck up product (read: cigars, watches and leather couches) or at the other end, a cheap bogan drink (read: V8 Racing and fist fights). So my desire was to make a brand and product that felt approachable but still refined.
We decided on Rye because first and foremost it’s a whiskey we both loved. Secondly, the grain is inherently Australian – surviving and thriving in drought conditions. Thirdly, we felt it was able to be appreciated by a broader audience, somewhat sitting between tradition Scottish Whisky and sweeter American Bourbon.
What sets The Gospel apart?
We are 100% independent and we are as equally passionate about Community, Creativity and Culture as we are for profit (and at times even more so).
Do you have a favourite part of making whiskey or are a part you are most passionate about?
My favourite part of the whole process is actually seeing what bartenders create with it and how passionate they get. I was in a bar this week and the bartender had spent hours macerating and infusing various ingredients to further enhance our whiskey in a cocktail. We were a building block to their creation. That’s cool. The other part is seeing our whiskey in random parts of the world. I was recently in Berlin and I spent the day on a hired bicycle riding out to different markets (on the hunt for records) and rode past a bottle shop. I stopped, went in and found a bottle of The Gospel Straight Rye Whiskey on the shelf… that gave me a real buzz.
Do you remember the first time you tried whiskey or when you first fell in love with it?
Like many people, my first experience of whiskey was not a good one. Jack Daniels and coke when I was 16. It got bad, real quick. But when I was in my early 20s, I worked in London for a while and started to drink better (both in quantity and quality).
The Gospel have a collection of bottled cocktails, could you pick your favourite?
I love our Ochota Barrels release that we sold out of two years ago but my go to for the daily sip is our Straight Rye Whiskey.
Vinyl fanatics have the chance to track down a ‘golden ticket’ tucked away in one or two albums in some stores, and win a bottle of The Gospel Solera Rye. Is there a cocktail you’d recommend people make with it?
If you would like to keep it simple – just mix with Dry Ginger and a slice of orange for a Rye and Dry. More complicated drink would be a Boulevardier (the older cousin to a Negroni – just sub out gin for whiskey)
One word to describe the flavour?
Refreshing (Rye & Dry). Elevated (Boulevardier).
Based in Brunswick, is there a local bar that’s a classic for knock offs with The Gospel crew?
Inner North Brewing gets a decent look in every now and then. I am also keen on B. East and Teller.
Tell us about this fun filled after party at Paradise Alley on Record Store Day 2023?
I will sum it up as a funk/soul/disco vinyl party with drink specials, a whiskey tasting and all around good vibes.