Whisky or Whiskey? That is the question...


Whisky is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. The types/categories of whisky vary depending on the grains and proportion used in the production process for example barley, rye, corn and wheat.



The etymology of the word whisky/whiskey comes from the anglicization of the Gaelic word uisge beatha. Uisge beatha is the translation of the latin "aqua vitae" (water of life) which was used to described the distilled alcohol.

Although some writers refer to "whisk(e)y" or "whisky/whiskey" to identify the variation, in most cases this is not used in the right way and the right meaning.

The Scottish, Canadian and Japanese producers use the word Whisky while the Irish and the American producers use the word Whiskey.

The Whiskey spelling prevailed in the United States due to the fact that the "e" was taken by the Irish immigrants back in 1700 and it has been used ever since.

In addition, during the 19th century the Irish Whiskey was more popular and more developed than Scotch Whisky. The Irish Exporters to Americas began to add an "e" in order to distinguish their product from the inferior, back then, Scotch Whisky.

Despite that, the United States laws and regulations refer to whisky and not whiskey. In addition, there are some prominent American brands which use the term whisky instead of whiskey ( Maker's Mark, George Dickel and Old Forester).

An easy way to remember this, is the following. Countries which have E in their names tend to spell it Whiskey, while countries without E in their names tend to spell it Whisky.

The majority of the authors share the opinion that the spelling is a matter of regional language convection and how the word was evolved in different societies and the literature of those countries.

Nowadays, the difference in spelling is a regional tradition to describe the origin and style of the spirit. The word Whiskey describes the American produced varieties like Tennessee, Bourbon and Rye as well as the Irish group of spirits. The word Whisky describes the Scotch, Canadian, Japanese and other new world whisky.

With an "e" or without, the passion for Whisk(e)y is the same!

"It is true that Whisk(e)y improves with age. The older I get, the more Like it!" Ronnie Corbett

Dram it up!

Written by:

Aristides Trimindis
Co Founder of www.singlemaltlodge.com


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