Turning Tables – Andrew Fitzgerald, The Gospel Whiskey

Name: Andrew Fitzgerald
Position:  Co-Founder

Tell us a little bit about The Gospel Whiskey? When do you start and what’s the story behind your name?

The Gospel Whiskey was born out of a want to do something creative. Ben (my business partner) and I worked in engineering as our day jobs but both of us aspired to work full time in something we were passionate about. In 2013, we started distilling whiskey in my garage in Carlton.  Ben knew what to do having grown up in South Carolina and learning to distil before he could drive, but I was very much a novice.  From there, one thing led to another and we started our first distillery in 2015.

The thing I love about whiskey is it can be the fuel for great moments or the glue that brings people together.  If treated right, that is.

In regards to the name ‘The Gospel’, that’s a storied development.  Firstly, we wanted to have a brand that represented us, so we started off by looking at things both Ben and I were into.  We had some terrible name ideas but as I was into music and records, our first acceptable iteration of a brand name was actually ‘Astor’ after the now defunct record label and pressing plant in Port Melbourne.  I really dug their capital ‘A’ in their brand and since they were no longer operating, it would be no problem to use the name.  They used to press a lot of Pye records for the Australian markets and even had a radio hardware division.  So it was a name that resonated well. After looking into the trademark, however, it appeared too treacherous.  There was even a Astor Vodka in the USA.  So after that, we went back to the drawing board.

Around the same time, I was touring a group called Blackalicious from the US.  I have for a few years booked and promoted a number of Hip Hop tours and during that tour, myself and one of the crew (Jumbo from the Livesavas) spent a fair bit of time digging for records.  He was trying to put me onto Gospel music.  Although I had an appreciation for Gospel, I had never really attempted to collect it.  There was one record in particular – Fire, by Sister Irene O’Connor that Jumbo was dedicated to finding. We spent the best part of two weeks hopping in and out of record stores and private collections on the hunt for that record and anything Gospel. So, when it came time to come up with a new name, Gospel was fresh in my mind.  Kelvin, the other Co-founder from New Zealand who was responsible for the branding, added ‘The’ to the name and the rest is history.. 

If you were to describe Gospel Whiskey in three words what would it be?

Culture, Creativity, Community

We know you’re massive music fans, what is that you love most about the Australian Music Scene?

I have appreciated the diversity in the sound of Australian Hip Hop in the last 5 years or so.  Years ago, in the 90s you had two choices – hardcore Australian or fake US accent – but nowadays it’s all about creativity and is much more polished and that’s a good thing.

What are your favourite Australian albums paired with a glass of The Gospel or a cocktail made with The Gospel?

I am partial to our (The Gospel Whiskey) Spotify Mix of Melbourne Music.  But, if I am spinning vinyl, I have a few early hip hop LPs and 12s that transport me back to hanging out at Richmond Station – in particular, Trem One’s Sheer Talent.

First piece of recorded music you remember purchasing and where did you purchase it from?

It was a CD of POWER by ICE -T.  My Grandma had given me $40 for my birthday and I went to central station records in Adelaide and purchased that and an NWA F*CK THA POLICE T-shirt.  I was 11. 

Tell us about your favourite artist, and what record of theirs you’d recommend to introduce to someone who’s never heard of them.

I am a big fan of Tyler Childers.  His album Bottles and Bibles is great and a few songs from it feature on a live album from Red Barn radio on vinyl.  I never used to like Country Music, in fact, when I used to travel digging, I would often advertise in local newspapers ‘Looking for records… all genres except country’ but I just love his pain-filled stories.

Favourite records stores in Australia and from around the world and why?

In Australia, Wax Museum and Plug Seven are both great in Melbourne.  Internationally, A1 Records in NYC is always worth a dig.  Beyond that, there are so many great little finds.

Favourite Record Store Day events you’ve attended in the past?

Every year Northside Records always seems to outdo itself and turn the party up.

What RSD 2023 releases are you excited for this year?

I have not kept up on what’s coming out this year…  I will see what grabs my attention on the day.

For those who have never attended a Record Store Day before, what advice would you give them for attending? (how early to arrive, which stores, etc etc)

Try to get to a few stores, make the time to check out a bunch.  The vibes are always great.

Where will you be shopping this Record Store Day?

Plug Seven Records, Northside and will go from there (budget depending!!)

Keep up to date with The Gospel Whiskey on their Website + Instagram