On a cold snowy morning at the beginning of November forty girls and boys travelled to Caledonia Distillery and Twa Dogs Brewery in Saanich of greater Victoria to learn about their operation and sample some of their wares.As usual, a smiling Glenn (later spotted by webmaster John), was on duty on arrival, acting as a kindly traffic warden.
After a brief introduction from staff member Jessica we were handed our first tasting, a very pleasant light pilsner. Lunch, a delicious spread of fresh sandwiches, fruit, raw veggies and sweets, was served in the brewing/distilling/bottling area. (I’ll provide a full explanation of the production processes at the end of this article).
Two guides, Jessica and Kate, took us on a tour of the facility, explaining and showing us the ingredients and the vats which are used in the process of producing beer and whiskey. Only beer is available for consumption at the moment, as whiskey, to become whiskey, has to mature in an oak barrel for at least 3 years and a day. Caledonia has only just passed their first birthday, so we have to wait two more years for theirs to be available. In the meantime, they offer two blends of malts chosen by their master distiller. These we sampled – a light Highland and Speyside blend and a peatier Islay blend.
As an interesting aside I can report that Peter Boland, one of our party, was already familiar with the distilling process, having experimented with his own moonshine distilling operation using molasses when he was a teenager.
The founders of the operation are all Scots and use as a theme for their beer labels Scotland’s national poet Robbie Burns. Each beer is named after a character in one of his poems – “Holy Willie”, “Drouthy Neibor”, “Jolly Beggar”, “Mistress of my Soul” and “Keekin’ Glass”. We should all make a point of searching out these brands at our liquor store to support this local venture.
A big thank-you as always to Glenn Soares and also to Tom Glenn for suggesting, and doing all of the ground work for this interesting outing. (By the way, I was just kidding about describing the process – too complicated for this simple mind).
Article written by Donald Sutherland
Editor’s note, from Gary Byrne:
I went to the liquor store Friday afternoon on my bicycle, and bought a bottle of Caledonian Whiskey, and put it in the bicycle basket.
As I was about to leave, I thought to myself that if I fell off the bicycle, the bottle would break. So I drank all the whiskey before I cycled home.
It turned out to be a very good decision, because I fell off my bicycle seven times on the way home.