Saanich distiller changes names as whisky dispute settled

A Saanich distillery has settled a long-running branding dispute with the Scotch Whisky Association.

Graeme Macaloney with some of his distillery’s products. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

A Saanich distillery has settled a long-running branding dispute with the Scotch Whisky Association.

Graeme Macaloney, who has operated Macaloney Brewer and Distillers since 2016, is slightly changing his distillery’s name and re-labelling some of his brands, moving away from popular names and places in his native Scotland. The Scotch Whisky Association claimed the brands were misleading, making Canadians believe the whisky was made in Scotland.

The David-versus-Goliath battle came to a head in April last year when the Scotch Whisky Association, whose governing council is controlled by the four largest scotch whisky multi-national corporations, filed a lawsuit to prevent the Victoria craft distillery from using Macaloney (its founder’s name), the words Island, Glenloy, Invermallie and others in its whisky branding. He named the brand’s Glenloy and Invermallie whiskies after locations where his clan lived for more than 1,000 years.

Macaloney believes the popularity of his whiskies ignited the association’s attention after he garnered top prizes at the 2020 World Whiskies Awards, including World’s Best New Make and Best Canadian Single Cask Single Malt.

“The lawsuit is just ridiculous,” Graeme Macaloney told the Times Colonist this year. “What they’re saying is that I can’t use my own name.”

The threat of legal action led to Macaloney scuttling plans to start distributing whisky into Germany and other parts of Europe.

The two sides have negotiated ever since and came to an agreement this week.

“We are delighted to announce that we have come to an agreement,” Macaloney said in a statement on Wednesday.

Macaloney is from Scotland, but he has lived in Canada for more than 30 years.

“As a result, we will be re-branding our distillery and its associated tours and beer garden [from Macaloney’s Caledonian Distillery] to Macaloney’s Island Distillery & Twa Dogs Brewery.”

At about the same time that the SWA and Macaloney reached a settlement, Macaloney was recognized for his craftsmanship at the World Whiskies Awards in London.

Macaloney’s Island Distillery took home the award for Canadian Best Single Malt for its signature expression formerly known as Glenloy, Canadian Best Triple Distilled Potstill Whisky for its Killeigh whisky, and Worlds Best New Make-Young Spirit for its seaweed-peated spirit.

Macaloney said he was “doubly pleased” with the settlement and recognition for his whiskies.

It is not the first time a Canadian distillery has drawn the ire of the Scotch Whisky Association, which is known for its ferocity in protecting its share of the multibillion-dollar global whisky industry.

It previously waged a losing nine-year fight with Glenora Distillery in Nova Scotia to stop that distillery from using the word Glen (Gaelic for valley) in the name of its single malt whisky. The Supreme Court of Canada subsequently dismissed an appeal made by the association, with costs, in 2009.

— by Darron Kloster, with files from Pedro Arrais

This story originally appeared on

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