BC Businesses Collaborate to Create Canada’s First Seaweed Peated Whisky


In 2018, the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA) using its new designation as FTZVI, Canada’s 12th Foreign Trade Zone, developed four business cases to attract Foreign Direct Investment. The business case for Seaweed Aquaculture rose to the top of this list and was quickly pursued by a team of experts and investors to form Cascadia Seaweed Corporation, partnering with with Nuu-chah-nulth Seafood LP, to bring Vancouver Island seaweed to rapidly expanding global markets.

On May 11, 2020 days after commencing their first harvest, Cascadia Seaweed announced a new sales agreement with Victoria Caledonian Distillery to produce Canada’s first seaweed peated whisky.

Cascadia Seaweed is growing to be one of the largest providers of cultivated seaweed to the human food industry in North America. Cascadia’s success grows from building mutually beneficial agreements with First Nation communities to cultivate this climate-positive crop which requires only sea and sunlight to grow.

Cascadia Seaweed and the Victoria Caledonian Distillery both believe strongly in supporting fellow BC businesses and that using locally sourced ingredients will create the highest and best quality products.

“The essence of the ocean should come out in the flavour profile” says Graeme Macaloney, the founder and whisky maker at Victoria Caledonian Distillery.

“We are excited to be partnering with another local business and demonstrating the wide variety of uses for ocean-cultivated kelp” says Mike Williamson, president and CEO of Cascadia Seaweed. “ We have samples from our first harvest going to food processors who are eager to put this highly nutritious product into the hands, or mouths, of consumers” he added.

The Victoria Caledonian Distillery distillers have successfully developed a rapid aging process that will allow whisky connoisseurs to taste this one-of-a-kind whisky in just 12 months, compared to traditional techniques which can take up to 12 years.

Cascadia Seaweed is also on a fast track to scale up the production of kelp and they are committed to work with communities, First Nations and the BC Government to acquire licenced tenures for expansion areas.

“It’s a timely opportunity to help develop this climate positive sector for British Columbia, while building our business and providing economic stability for coastal communities” describes Williamson. “Seaweed is renewable and fast growing. It requires no freshwater, fertilizer, pesticide or arable land to grow, and the process of cultivating seaweed sequesters more carbon than land plants, creates habitat, and utilizes excess nutrients from the water in which it grows” he explains.

Cascadia Seaweed is also working with the provincially funded Food Hub in Port Alberni to secure space for primary processing. Cascadia is farming seaweed in the Uchucklesaht and Huu-ay-aht Territories on Vancouver Island, and has agreements in progress with other Nations interested in exploring this exciting new economic opportunity for coastal BC.