Last month, just before the world changed, two members of the What’s Brewing team ferried over to the Island for Victoria Beer Week. On the way into the city we stopped at the Victoria Caledonian Distillery & Twa Dogs Brewery, where we were fortunate enough to enjoy an impromptu facility tour. We learned a few things about this underestimated member of BC’s craft beverage clan that are worth sharing.
The distinctive Macaloney’s Caledonian building, easily spotted along the Highway 17 roadside, houses a visually impressive distillery and brewhouse. Dominating the expansive back area are the massive copper pot stills seen in these shots. The distillery uses these to great effect, as evidenced by a parade of international awards.
In 2019, the distillery’s single malt whisky was named Best Canadian New Make by the World Whiskies Awards, as announced in Whisky Magazine. This year, Caledonian took home top honours for the New Make category against worldwide competition.
Because of their success, Caledonian has set up a FrontFundr campaign for those who wish to help it grow, and share in the rewards. There is about a week left to participate at this point, and they’ve reached 90% of their goal. More about that below.
Part of the tour was off limits to photos, due to very hush hush developments on the whisky front. However, when tours are available again, you will be able to book them here and see it all. In the meantime, Twa Dogs is very much open for business, with beer delivery to the surrounding Victoria area and shipping throughout BC. They’re also using the distillery to produce hand sanitizers during the current COVID-19 pandemic. To place an order for beer, spirits or sanitizer, call 778-401-0410, email [email protected], or browse their online store here.
Victoria Caledonian was founded by Dr. Graeme Macaloney, a Scottish expat who’s had a love for whisky making since his youth. As an adult, with a PhD in Fermentation Engineering, he was able to realize his dream of creating a world-class distillery, and a BC craft brewery to boot. Let’s find out how things are going at Caledonian and Twa Dogs from Graeme himself.
Q&A WITH GRAEME MACALONEY
It’s been quite a spring. How are you holding up during these trying times?
It’s been a mixed bag for us. On the one hand we’ve seen an uptick in demand for our packaged beers and whiskies, while on the other hand both our draft beer business and tourism business have totally disappeared, forcing us to temporarily lay off several staff.
The craft community has been great and their continued support through our ongoing equity crowdfunding campaign and online sales should see us through the pandemic to the point where we can re-hire!
Twa Dogs is open for business, having announced free delivery within its local area a month ago. How is the uptake?
People have been loving the local delivery option! It lets them continue to enjoy our quality Twa Dogs beers that they’ve come to appreciate without having to venture from the safety of their own homes. Our biggest challenge right now is just making as many people as possible aware that we’re offering the free delivery service and that they can order online or via phone. Online orders can be made via VCaledonian.com or phoned in to 778 401 0401 and shipped via Fed Ex anywhere in BC.
People can also swing by our Visitor Centre to take away some beer, whisky or sanitizer. It is really well set up for social distancing.
Last month, your distillery Victoria Caledonian won Best Whisky New Make at the 2020 World Whiskies Awards, held in the UK. That’s quite a coup. How does it feel to be recognized internationally like this?
Considering the intense competition from around the world, we’re immensely proud of the achievement of taking both ‘World’s Best New-Make’ and ‘Canadian Best Single Cask Single Malt’ at the world’s most prestigious whisky awards. We’ve put a tremendous amount of effort into developing superb whiskies. Our Peated Mac na Braiche (which was created using the award-winning new make), as well as its sister, the classic Mac na Braiche, are prime examples.
We actually designed and built a new piece of equipment specifically for this spirit which allows us to smoke the barley ourselves right at the distillery. Only a small handful of distilleries around the world conduct their own peat-smoking onsite.
I think these awards bode well for our future whisky releases because it shows that we’re putting a fantastic spirit into casks. In fact, to complement these award winning single malts, we’ve just released a triple-distilled pot still whisky spirit for those who love ‘Irish-style’ whiskies. I personally believe this triple-distilled spirit is the best our distillery has ever produced, and I expect it will pick up awards in the future!
Your FrontFundr crowd funding campaign is at 90% of its goal, with just over a week left, which is pretty good all things considered. What do you think are the top reasons people are investing?
We now have over 500 regular Canadians who’ve invested, who all share a passion for craft beer and whisky. While some of the larger investors were attracted by the potential return on their investment and the 30% tax credit, the vast majority have invested to be a part of the passionate community and get a ‘behind the scenes’ look into an operational brewery and distillery. They also enjoy great perks like product discounts, free merchandise, and access to a 3-day brewing & distilling academy.
Due to popular demand, we’re now considering the possibility of extending the campaign for a few more weeks so that more people have time to join.
The FrontFundr Campaign
For more about the current crowd funding campaign, visit the FrontFundr page at
Minimum investment is $500.
There’s a long list of perks that come along with being an investor, as seen at
- Kelowna’s Emerging Beer (and Cider) Districts, Part II - August 18, 2020
- Kelowna’s Emerging Beer Districts, Part I - August 13, 2020
- Victoria Caledonian: Distilling success at one of BC’s hidden gem breweries - April 23, 2020