Saanich distillery resolves branding dispute with Scotch Whisky Association, scores three medals at World Whiskies Awards

Saanich distillery resolves branding dispute with Scotch Whisky Association, scores three medals at World Whiskies Awards
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Macaloney Brewer & Distillers, located in Saanich, has resolved a branding dispute with the Scotch Whisky Association, reaching an agreement on re-labelling its whiskies.

The Macaloney Distillery, which launched five years ago with its name and branding, had initially received the stamp of approval from the Scottish Whisky Association, however, as the company started to see critical and commercial success, founder Graeme Macaloney says the SWA approached him with a stern warning.

“We start winning awards and then we get a knock on the door saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got some issues that you are trying to use too many Scottish names to fool Canadians into thinking your whisky is actually Scotch,’” Macaloney told CHEK News amid the legal battle.

The Scottish Whisky Association filed a lawsuit last April saying the Victoria-based distillery’s branding and marketing were misleading the public. The SWA asked Macaloney to change several of the names of his products, including removing his own name from the label, claiming that various branding terms being used were ‘evocative of Scotland‘.

The two parties have been negotiating ever since and finally, the two sides have come to an agreement — with Macaloney agreeing to rename the distillery and its associated tours and beer garden to Macaloney’s Island Distillery & Twa Dogs Brewery.

“Never having dealt with this kind of international legal situation before, dealing with lawyers, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars defending yourself, and so my reaction at this point is ecstatic,” he said. “I’m over the moon. Absolutely thrilled with the outcome and the fact that we’re all moving forward and leaving this behind us.”

Macaloney says the new name is a good compromise that is reflective of coming from the Island — something that might actually appeal even more to whisky-lovers.

“Having Macaloney’s Island Distillery speaks volumes because you’ve got the brand there, and we are on an island, and connoisseurs treat whiskies with special revere because you have the influence from the ocean coming in to whiskies themselves, so I think it’s actually a good outcome,” he said.

The distillery owner also thanked Canadians for their support in the legal battle, saying he received more than 1,000 letters of support during the dispute.

At the same time that the SWA and Macaloney’s Island Distillery reached an agreement, the Saanich-based company also was recognized for some prestigious accolades, handed out 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.

With COVID-19 restrictions lifted, Macaloney notes that distillery-brewery tours and beer garden tastings at Macaloney’s Island Distillery & Twa Dogs Brewery are now fully back in full swing.

More information on the Saanich Distillery can be found online here.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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