Victoria Caledonian Distillery – TWS Event

On April 23rd the Toronto Whisky Society hosted our most recent event, a tasting by the Victoria Caledonian Brewery & Distillery.

Andrew Campbell Walls, the incredibly delightful brand ambassador of Victoria Caledonian Distillery, was gracious to lead is through a tasting of the TWA Blended malts available from the distillery, along with a sample of the currently maturing single malt spirit (Mac Na Braiche).

Below are the whiskies and single malt spirit we had a chance to try at the tasting:

  • Macaloney Twa Cask – Highland (Blair Athol & Macduff)
  • Macaloney Twa Cask – Islay (Caol Ila & Bunnahabhain)
  • Macaloney Twa Cask – Speyside (Benrinnes & Glenlossie)
  • Macaloney’s Victoria Caledonian Mac Na Braiche

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(pictured above: the tasting lineup for the event) 

Victoria Caledonian Brewery & Distillery is located in Victoria, BC. As a young distillery, they currently do not have any of their own matured single malt whisky available for sale, instead they import “guest” whiskies from Scotland which are used to create custom blends. The TWA Highland, Speyside and Islay whiskies we tried are all examples of these blended “guest” whiskies.

The Victoria Caledonian Distillery has deep Scottish roots, the Founder-President is Dr. Graeme Macaloney, a Scotsman who started his career at the Black & White whisky factory, going on to become a PhD qualified fermentation engineer. The Master Distiller is Mike Nicolson who worked for Diageo for 36 years, creating many well-known single malts. They are currently a line of single malts which have been distilled and matured in British Columbia.

On to the whiskies we got to try at this event. Due to the wide range of experience of Toronto Whisky Society members in reviewing whiskies, we decided to try out a rating scale for those who were interested.

1 – Didn’t enjoy at all 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 – Best thing I’ve ever smelled

For each whisky members rated the nose, palate, finish and overall profile using the scale.

1)  MACALONEY TWA CASK – SPEYSIDE (BENRINNES & GLENLOSSIE) –  56.5%

  • Nose: Floral, vanilla, butter, wax, apple, honey, lemon. Average: 7.2 High: 8 Low: 6
  • Palate: Oily, lemon, pepper, vanilla, honey, pear. Average: 7.2 High: 9 Low: 6
  • Finish: Medium length, vanilla, floral, honey, pear. Average: 6.8 High: 8 Low: 5
  • Overall: Consistent flavour profile throughout, many of the notes you look for in a Speyside profile. The cask strength adds character to many lower proof Speyside offerings. Average: 7.3 High: 8.5 Low: 6

2) MACALONEY TWA CASK – HIGHLAND (BLAIR ATHOL & MACDUFF) – 57.5% ABV

  • Nose:  Honey, vanilla, oak, pine, custard. Average: 7.3 High: 9 Low: 6
  • Palate: Honey, vanilla, oak, butter, warm, barley sugar. Average: 6.8 High: 9 Low: 5
  • Finish: Malt, honey, dry white wine, buttery, heather. Medium. Average: 7.2 High: 8 Low: 6
  • Overall: TWA succeed in create the Highland profile in this blend, oak, heather and honey. Good stuff. You do not see many Highland whiskies at the LCBO. Average: 7.4 High: 9 Low: 6

3) MACALONEY’S VICTORIA CALEDONIAN MAC NA BRAICHE – 50% ABV

This is the Victoria Caledonian Distillery’s single malt spirit which will eventually form the base of their single malt whisky releases. This particular bottle contained spirit which is 140 days old, and had matured in a STR cask (Swan’s Toasted wine barrique Reserve), an American oak cask which previously stored Portuguese wine. Note: We didn’t include scores, as we don’t score non-whisky spirit on a whisky scale.

  • Nose: Jellybeans, butter, grassy, honey, pepper, fruity.
  • Palate: Sap, floral, grain, pepper, honey, red fruits.
  • Finish: Spicy, oak, tangy, pepper, medium length, pine, sweet.
  • Overall: This drinks far older than its young age. Unique flavours likely due to the novel cask type. Sweet, floral and spicy.

4) MACALONEY TWA CASK – ISLAY (CAOL ILA & BUNNAHABHAIN) – 56.7% ABV

  • Nose: Peat, oily, brine, vanilla, oak, smoke, pepper. Average: 8.3 High: 9 Low: 7.5
  • Palate: Medicinal, citrus, oily, pepper, ashy, oily, peat. Average: 8.1 High: 9 Low: 6
  • Finish: Oily, ashy, smoke, salt, tobacco, peat. Average: 7.6 High: 8.5 Low: 6
  • Overall: Caol ila and Bunnahabhain complement each other well in this blend. The Caol ila seems to dominate the profile. Average: 8.1 High: 9 Low: 7

Victoria Caledonian Distillery has another unique offering which a group can purchase a 30L share which will be matured on the island in barrel, hogshead or barrique. After an initial maturation of  3- 4 years, the whisky will be re-cooper 30L casks for additional aging and maturation in a wine cask or other unique 30L cask.

For this “Own a Cask” program, Victoria Caledonian Distillery offers 5 different base whisky profiles, along with 10 different cask options. Providing an incredible amount of choice when it comes to designing your own whisky with them. To learn more about this program, check out their website here – http://vcaledonian.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Cask-Offer.pdf

We once again wanted to offer our thanks to Andrew Wells for hosting the tasting. It was amazing experience that was entertaining, informative and filled with wonderful whisky. You certainly know how to host a group of whisky lovers.

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