Macaloney’s Caledonian Distillery’s fight with the Scotch Whiskey Association intensifies

The founder of the Caledonian distillery in Macaloney is accused of calling his whiskey too Scottish by the Scotch Whiskey Association (SWA), based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“Officially they say we use too many Scottish-sounding names on our whisky, like my name Macaloney,” said Graeme Macaloney, the distillery’s founder.

The names of two of its whiskeys are Glenloy and Invermallie. Again, too Scottish for the association, but meaningful for Macaloney, who comes from Scotland.

“Glenloy and Invermallie is where my family lived for a thousand years, so it’s a great story to tell,” Macaloney said.

Last year, the SWA sued to stop Macaloney from using his name and other Scottish-sounding names in the branding of its Canadian whisky.

Now the fight has escalated and it will hurt the business of the award-winning distillery.

“Just a month ago (the SWA) threatened our German importer with legal action to force them to stop importing our best Canadian single malt into Germany,” Macaloney said.

Macaloney says the German importer was his growing distillery’s portal to the European Union. Now he has to find a new importer, but it takes months. And, if an importer were to hire him, the SWA would also make it difficult for that new importer, Macaloney says.

“They would also put the lawyers on this person,” Macaloney said.

That leaves Macaloney is a tough spot. The young company and its 750 shareholders had plans to distribute their whiskey in 25 countries around the world. With this new wrinkle, those growth plans are now on hold.

“People are scared of the SWA in this industry,” Macaloney said.

The distillery founder contacted the SWA in hopes a compromise could be found, but said he had mediated with them in the past, to no avail.

A letter-writing campaign has begun, and so far Canadians have sent over 1,000 letters of support for the Saanich Distillery at SWA. Macaloney hopes this will persuade the association to back down and reach an agreement, as he says he is not ready to give up his name or the name of his Canadian whisky.

Andrew B. Reiter