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Macaloney Caledonian Invermallie – Portuguese Re-charred Red Wine Barrique

Review: Macaloney Caledonian Invermallie – Portuguese Re-charred Red Wine Barrique    (82/100)
Single Cask Island Single Malt Whisky

a review by Chip Dykstra
Published February 15, 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.

As we reached 2020, the Macaloney Caledonian Distillery began producing spirit which has reached the required maturity to be sold as Canadian Whisky. Their world-class distillery, built on a foundation of traditional Forsyth’s copper pot stills (see right) uses Canadian barley, with island water to produce a small range of Island Whiskies.

The Invermallie releases may be regarded as the distillery’s connoisseurs/collector’s edition expressions. This is an ever-changing series of classic single malt expressions based on unique one-off single casks, or other special selections. This particualr Invermallie special release was matured in a re-charred red wine barrique imported from Europe. This barrique underwent a shave-toast-rechar preparation which is meant to  give the spirit a complex nose with red berries, dried fruit, demerara sugar, leather, oak and honey.

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  8/10 

Colour: Golden straw with faint reddish tint

Legs: Slender relatively quick moving legs

Nose:  Cherry licorice, fine oak spice, raisin, gooseberry and citrus zest. Grain spice, malt barley, light butterscotch, hints of almond and vanilla. Wisps of menthol and heather as well.

The whisky promises to be light and nuanced rather than bold. The red wine notes tend to obscure rather than elevate the natural aromas of the whisky.

In The Mouth 48.5/60

Mild oak and grain spices combine with light vanillans and soft leathery flavours of barley grain with undercurrents of red cherry licorice, gooseberry, butterscotch and almond. The lightly sweet maltiness pairs well with the fruity licorice,  but the nuances are indistinct and thus hard to describe in terms of taste descriptors. The result is a whisky which is light and airy even though it is bottled at 46 % abv..

The brashness which I would normally associate with such a young whisky is notably absent and so it is easy to sip with very little alcohol bite and only a mild bite from wood and grain spice. As this is a young single malt I hope no one minds if I suggest a cocktail. One that comes to mind is a serving I call Alpine Meadows which pairs single malt whisky with the piny influence of London Dry Gin.

Alpine Meadows

1 1/4 oz  Macaloney Caledonian Invermallie (Port Red Wine Barrique)
2/3oz  London Dry Gin
1/3 oz Bols Triple Sec (sub any quality triple distilled orange liqueur)
dash Bittermen’s Boston Bittahs
Citrus Zest

Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with citrus zest


Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

In The Throat 12.5/15

The spirit is light bodied with a short crisp, lightly spicy finish. We can taste hints of sweet red cherry licorice mingling with oak and grain spices.

The Afterburn 8/10

This Macaloney’s Caledonian Island Single Malt Whisky finished in Red Wine Barriques is smooth and nuanced. The whisky can be sipped quite easily, although I suspect that most Single Malt enthusiasts will be wanting a flavour profile with a more robust character. I found myself searching perhaps just a little too hard to find to find evolution in my glass; but I suspect the youth of the spirit and the short time in oak casks made that transformation rather  limited.

I suspect that many Canadian whisky drinkers will like this lighter breezier style.  My final score is 82/100 reflects my believe that the whisky while quite pleasant, nevertheless needs more maturation time to develop the depth and character which I believe a high scoring whisky requires.

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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