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Macaloney Caledonian Invermallie (Ex- Bourbon Cask)

Review: Macaloney Caledonian Invermallie (Ex- Bourbon Cask)      87/100
Single Cask Island Single Malt Whisky

a review by Chip Dykstra
Published February 1, 2021

The Caledonian Distillery has been on my radar for a while now. I first heard of it when founder Graeme Macaloney invited me to an information seminar and whisky tasting several years ago. At that time the distillery was just in the planning stages and Graeme was touring the country raising money to build his distillery.

Twin Pot Stills at Victoria Caledonia Distillery and Brewery

Twin Pot Stills at Victoria Caledonia Distillery and Brewery

In the fall of 2016, word reached me that the Victoria Caledonian Brewery & Distillery had began to produce and age new make spirit. Then in January of 2017 the distillery reached out to me asking if they could share some samples with me, and soon thereafter I published a review for theie ‘whisky in progress”, Victoria Caledonian Mac na Braiche.

Moved forward to 2020, the Macaloney Caledonian Distillery (there appears to have been a name change) began producing spirit which had reached the required maturity to be sold as Canadian Whisky. Their world-class distillery is built on a foundation of traditional Forsyth’s copper pot stills (see right). Using Canadian barley, with island water the distillery produces a range of produces a small range of Island Whiskies.

Their recent Invermallie releases may be regarded as the distillery’s connoisseurs/collector’s edition expressions. Apparently the name is a nod to the flowing river Mallie. Like the changing river, this is an ever-changing series of classic single malt expressions based on unique one-off single casks, or other special selections.

This Invermallie Ex- Bourbon Cask release was selected from a single ‘first-use’ Bourbon cask. According to the distillery, this is the cleanest expression of the Macaloney Caledonian house style. This is because the previously contained Bourbon in the aging barrel has only a minor influence which allows the American white oak combining with the distillate to shine. Although the release appears to have already sold out, it nevertheless gives us a glimpse into the house style of the Macaloney Caledaonian Distillery.

The special release is bottled at 46% alcohol by volume.

In The Bottle 5/5

The Invermallie whisky releases are sold in the purple box and squat long necked bottle display shown to the left. Each bottle and each box is individually numbered. The carton has an image of Vancouver Island that wraps around all four sides, emphasizing that this is an ‘island whisky’. Descriptive tasting notes are included on the carton as well.

I like the presentation and wish that more companies in Canada would use such detail.

In the Glass 8.5/10

Colour: Pale straw

Nose: Oak and grain spice, butterscotch, vanilla, citrus fruit, pears, malt barley, ferns, hay, menthol and almond.

The nose is very nice representing a classic, clean single malt style. And I am impressed that a young spirit bottled at 46% alcohol by volume does not display any overt alcohol notes which would warn me away. Rather the spirit is warm and inviting with a touch of herbal character that intrigues me.

In The Mouth 52/60

The first sip brings a nice mixture of oak spice, butterscotch, vanilla and almond forward which gives me a positive impression of toffee and marzipan. The second sip brings herbal grassy flavours, gooseberries, orange peel and a touch of honey to the combination. Impressions of canned apricots, hints of raisins, and a touch of leathery barley add to the depth of the whisky.

This is a whisky which is easy to sip neat. My temptation is to score the spirit even higher; however I acknowledge that there is room for more growth in the flavour profile with a longer stay in the bourbon barrel.

In The Throat  13/15

I am quite impressed as I was not expecting such a suave smooth quality from a young whisky. The spirit is easy to sip without ice and has a sort of lingering herbal sweetness which is very pleasant.

The Afterburn  8.5/10

That such a young spirit (it cannot be older than 5 years) can score this well is a testament to the craft of the master distiller at the Macaloney Caledonian Distillery. Generally speaking, I have had a luke warm response to the majority of Single Malt whiskies being produced in Canada. This is not surprising as they are quite young when released and the distillers have not had decades to perfect their craft. However, this Invermallie expression breaks away from the pack.

My final score is 87/100 represents (I believe) the highest score I have awarded to this point to a Single Malt that is not at least 10 Years Old. And this is the highest score I have awarded (to this point on my website) for a Canadian Single Malt Whisky.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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