Huge International Awards Granted to BC Craft Distillery as it Responds to Lawsuit
Victoria, BC. April 6th, 2021 Just announced at the worlds most competitive World Whiskies Awards (WWA’s) 2021 is that the Macaloney Distillers Glenloy whisky took Canadian Best Single Malt. This is a huge accolade, and while the distillery team should be celebrating, instead they are responding to a court challenge.
MacMhaol-onfhaidh (Macaloney) Brewers & Distillers Ltd. (MBD), the company which owns and operates Macaloney’s Caledonian Distillery & Twa Dogs Brewery in Victoria B.C., responds to a civil claim filed by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA).
The SWA is alleging that MBD’s award-winning Canadian craft whisky branding violates SWA’s geographic indication (GI), ‘Scotch Whisky,’ because MBD’s branding components (including ‘Caledonian’, ‘Macaloney’, ‘Island Whisky’, ‘Glenloy’, and ‘Invermallie’), are claimed to be synonymous with ‘Scotch’. MBD has never used the GI ‘Scotch Whisky’ on its Canadian distilled whiskies.
Graeme Macaloney, founder / whisky maker of MBD says “The SWA appears to have a track record of using time consuming, expensive lawsuits, which have the effect of intimidating small companies into relinquishing the rightful use of their branding terms, as evidenced by Glen Breton whisky here in Canada, which the SWA lost, and by several U.S. examples.”
MBD is a family-owned Canadian distillery, crowdfunded by many Canadian whisky enthusiasts, that makes Canadian single malt and triple-distilled pot still whiskies using traditional Scottish and Irish methods. As such, MBD celebrates the whisky makers’ heritage and local provenance together through its whisky brands. Including this latest win, MBD’s Canadian whiskies last year won ‘Worlds Best’ for its peat-smoked expressions and ‘Canadian Best’ for its Invermallie red wine barrique in competitions against Scotch, Irish, Japanese, and American whiskies.
The whisky team at MBD is comprised of people of Scottish birth: Graeme Macaloney, whiskymaker, Mike Nicolson, master distiller (formerly of Diageo), and the late Dr. Jim Swan, whisky consultant. Macaloney got his start in the whisky business by collaborating with Diageo as an independent bottler, where he blended, bottled, and sold Diageo and other Scotches under the ‘Macaloney’s Twa Cask’ brand. MBD also supports Scottish heritage by sponsoring the Victoria Highland Games and BC Highland Games.
MBD opened in late 2016, with webpage online sales commencing in 2019. The company’s core business is Canadian single malt whisky and Canadian triple-distilled pot still whisky, Twa Dogs craft beer, experiential distillery-brewery guided tours, and contract manufacturing to assist aspiring whiskymakers get started.
In 2016, MBD took proactive initiative and contacted the SWA to understand their label requirements, and was transparent about using branding with ‘Macaloney’ and ‘Caledonian’. At that time, the SWA did not object to the names ‘Macaloney’ and ‘Caledonian’.
From 2019, MBD commenced online sales and started to capture World Whiskies Awards. In 2019, the SWA asked MBD to describe its master distiller as a ‘Scottish Master Distiller’ rather than a ‘Scotch Master Distiller’ and MBD complied with that request. MBD also agreed to prominently display ‘Canadian’ on its packaging to avoid any possible confusion with Scotch.
MBD’s labelling and packaging identifies its products as Canadian, made in a distillery in Victoria, BC. Its premium whiskies even have a map of Vancouver Island prominently displayed on the packaging. Recently, in addition to the WWA’s, MBD has collected medals from the Canadian Whisky Awards and the Canadian Artisan Spirits Competition.
“We are proud to celebrate our heritage, including my Scottish and Irish ancestry and the story of my family,” says Macaloney. “I firmly believe we have the right to do business in a way that celebrates both that history and our reputation as a leading Vancouver Island craft distillery. We also celebrate this in our beers – branded as ‘Twa Dogs’ after a Robert Burns poem.”
Macaloney goes on to say, “We do not, and never have used the GI ‘Scotch Whisky’ on our Canadian distilled products, and strongly disagree with their lawsuit’s assertion that our use of ‘Caledonian’, ‘Macaloney’, and other terms including ‘Glen’ ‘Inver’ and ‘island whisky’, are synonymous with Scotch Whisky.”
“As we have done from the beginning, we will continue to work with the SWA and its members in a collaborative manner.’
The reasons below explain why MBD’s branding terms are not synonymous with ‘Scotch’:
- Macaloney is the name of MBD’s founder and whisky maker, Graeme Macaloney. No Scotch Whisky is using that name to our knowledge.
- Canada has as many, if not more, island distilleries than Scotland, thus making the challenge to MBD’s use of ‘island’ unwarranted. Indeed, MBD’s whisky branding invites consumers to come visit the distillery on Vancouver Island for guided tours.
- Caledonia is an important part of MBD’s story, celebrating both the founder’s heritage and newfound home in BC., (once called New Caledonia by local settlers before being named as the province of British Columbia).
- ‘Glen’ is used by other Canadian craft distillers, including Glenora Distillery’s Glen Breton whisky, which successfully defended itself in court against a SWA lawsuit in 2009, and Glen Saanich whisky.
- The ‘Glenloy’, ‘Invermallie’ and ‘Invernahaven’ names for some of MBD’s whiskies are those specific areas where whiskymaker Macaloney’s ancestors made history. No Scotch Whisky uses those names to our knowledge, and they are distinctive of MBD’s whiskies.
To show your support please email info@MCaledonian.com and leave your name and we will get back to you
Image below shows L to R: ‘Canadian Best WWA 21’ Glenloy, ‘Worlds Best WWA 20’ peated spirit, and ‘Canadian Best WWA 20’ Invermallie