An antique, vintage square shaped bottle, tinted in chocolate brown, with a narrowing neck, the Gospel Solera Rye brings with it a very distinct look, almost medieval like. Melbourne’s Gospel Distillers began their Single Malt journey with this particular expression, taking advantage of what parts of America and Australia have in common, a harsher climate than their Scottish / Irish brethren. One that barley wasn’t quick to adapt to, at least not initially; rye on the other hand was all at home, the perfect dynamics that ensured it had and still has a two century plus rich history with American Bourbon.
Inspired by the more robust flavours of rye and taking akin to American Bourbon and its variations, it was natural for the distillery to stray away from the natural grain of choice, barley. However, they do deviate away from bourbon tradition in terms of the ratio of rye used. While Bourbon usually has lower ratios of corn and malted barley, the latter to aid in the fermentation process, the distillers here leverage 100% unmalted rye, all of which are locally source from the dry Murray Mallee region of South Australia.
The Solera Rye expression is double distilled and matured in a combination of American oak and locally sourced wine barrels for about two years (more of a straight whisky by definition) using the Solera technique. Meaning, each new batch is poured into a two storey tun containing older blends; with every ‘batch to release’ taken from the bottom of the Solera system and bottled. This allows for younger, rougher blends to infuse with more mature profiles lending a more robust and complex character to the final outcome.
ABV : 42.5%
Eye: Tawny; Natural colouring
Nose: Dark caramel infused with tawny port wine. Woody and earthy interrupted with dried fruits, almonds and savoury notes. Trails with peppery notes, nutmeg and spicy cloves.
Taste: Brown sugar sprinkled over a bowl of berries, rasberries, dark grapes and a drizzle of red wine. On the palate you notice some leather, bits of candy, pepper, spiced notes and oak.
Finish: Dried fruits and earthy with a touch of spice.
The Solera Rye is heavy, rich and hardy; very much carrying the weight of all its influence from the wine barrels on its shoulders; so much so that, it seems more like a desert wine with a higher abv! The expression comes to me more like a digestif with anything more than one serving being an overkill.
At about $AUD 80, it is a bit pricey, but that is the case with most Aussie whiskies. The Solera Rye is a great appetiser, or a fantastic way to settle in after a hard day of work, might even possibly be better served as a cocktail with those big winey flavours forcibly brought down, but for a boys night out…Naaah!