New brewery, distillery to set up shop in Saanich

Greater Victoria’s latest distiller now has a home.

Victoria Caledonian Distillery and Brewery, which will produce both beer and whisky, will be housed at 761 Enterprise Cres., a 17,000-square-foot space that expects to be up and running and open to the public by June.

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Graeme Macaloney, founder of Macaloney Brewers & Distillers, said equipment from as far away as Scotland is

en route and should be installed within the next two months.

“I’m fairly confident that by June everything will be complete. Beer will be flowing and whisky will be getting put into barrels for maturation and our tourism component will be open by then as well,” he said.

When it opens, the facility will also house a gift store for whisky, beer and related gifts, and space to host corporate, family or community events.

The tourism component is a big part of the operation, with the distillery planning to run hands-on experiential tours and tutored tastings to show people the entire whisky making process.

Macaloney said the location, overlooking the Pat Bay Highway, puts them on solid footing to lure tourism traffic.

For true whisky lovers, the distillery will also be offering individually crafted whiskies.

“We are already starting to offer the chance for people to design their whisky. We will work with them to design one,” said Macaloney, noting enthusiasts can choose form 10 different wood casks and from a variety of spirits to create a dram that suits them.

For $4,800, customers will get a 30-litre cask of their designed spirit, which Macaloney said works out to about $90-$100 a bottle.

Macaloney said the operation, which needs to add sales reps, a tourism manager and guides, expects to have a dozen employees within the year.

“As a start-up, we have to be careful in terms of staffing until the revenue comes in. It will be a careful ramp-up,” he said.

Caledonian has already hired a production manager/brewmaster in Dean McLeod, formerly production manager at Lighthouse Brewing, and a whisky brand ambassador/sales manager in Andrew Campbell Walls, former manager of The Bothy, a whisky bar in Edmonton.

The team also includes master distiller Mike Nicolson, who has worked with Diageo’s scotch distilleries, and a whisky maturation expert in Dr. Jim Swan, who has a process that claims to speed up maturation of the spirit.

Caledonian was kickstarted in the fall of 2014 with a $2.37-million commitment from the federal government. It also got investment from more than 200 Canadian whisky and craft beer enthusiasts.

The federal money came from the Agriculture Ministry’s Agri-Innovation Program, a $698-million initiative to fund innovation in Canadian agriculture and speed up commercialization of new products.

Macaloney’s distillery will use an innovation in whisky maturation that will produce premium whisky with just three years of aging.

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