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B.C. distiller, whisky association resolve dram drama over product names deemed too Scottish

A Vancouver Island distiller has come to a resolution with a Scottish industry group over allegations his branding would confuse consumers.

In 2021, the Edinburgh-based Scotch Whisky Association sued Graeme Macaloney, owner of Macaloney’s Caledonian Distillery in Saanich, B.C.

The association alleged Macaloney used terms in the name of his whiskies that would lead buyers to believe that his products were in fact from Scotland.

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Among the objected-to terms were “Caledonian,” an old name for Scotland; along with “island” and even Macaloney’s own Scottish surname.

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Several of Macaloney’s whiskies will change their names as a result of the compromise. (Katie Nicholson/CBC)

“I wasn’t very happy about that,” Macaloney, who was born in Scotland, said in a phone interview Wednesday.

“I’m a very proud Canadian for the last 30 years or so. And I love the Scottish heritage. … And so when that became a contentious name, that was quite upsetting.”

But both Macaloney and the association said the dispute has ended with a compromise.

The association is dropping its legal action in exchange for Macaloney changing the name of the distillery to Macaloney Island Distillery, marking its location on Vancouver Island.

“And the win-win in that is we continue to use ‘Macaloney’ and celebrate the word ‘island,'” Macaloney said. “Island distilleries do make special whisky because of the sea influences.”

He also had to change the names of his whiskies that have Scottish place names: Glenloy, Invermallie and Invernahaven. That was a bit of an annoyance, he said, as those products had won some awards.

“They’re named after places in Scotland where my family was active hundreds and hundreds of years ago,” he said. 

“If you’re gonna try and come to a compromise you’re gonna have some tough gives on both sides.”

As part of the agreement, he says he will have several months to sell off the remaining inventory of his contentious products.


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