Vancouver Island whisky distiller facing lawsuit for use of Scottish words

A Vancouver Island distillery is finding out the home of single-malt scotch can be pretty protective of its brand.

Macaloney’s Caledonian Distillery in Saanich is being taken to court for offering up a product that's allegedly a little too close to the original.

The company won the award for world's best peated spirit in the 2020 World Whiskies Awards and just took home the award for top Canadian single malt for 2021.

Founder Graeme Macaloney, who arrived in Canada from Scotland 30 years ago, has been careful not to call his product “scotch.”

The word is a protected geographic indicator, like champagne. But the Scotch Whisky Association has launched a lawsuit against the brand.

“They're taking issue with my name, Macaloney – sounds too Scottish,” the distiller tells CTV News. “God forbid they pick up on my accent at some point.”

The trade association also has a problem with the words "Caledonian," "Island whiskey" and "Glen" on Macaloney’s labels.

Macaloney says he intends to fight the lawsuit in court, if necessary.

“They're not going to tell me I can't use my name,” he says.

It's reminiscent of a lawsuit involving Victoria's Phillips Brewing, when their signature Blue Truck beer became an issue for Vancouver's Red Truck Beer Company. Phillips buckled and the beer became Blue Buck.

"It's always upsetting when someone comes after you for something that seems so frivolous," Phillips founder Matt Phillips says.

Nanaimo mayor Leonard Krog, whose city is renowned for the Nanaimo bar, has a message for the whisky association: "To the Scottish distillers association I would say, 'Suck it up buttercup."