What do you drink, whisky or whiskey?
Did you know that whisky, one of the most popular spirits in the world, has two names? The differences are related to the country of origin. Therefore, what do you drink in your country, whisky or whiskey? What is the origin of the different spelling? Is it the only difference between the names? Find the answers in the article.
Whisky or whiskey?
Whisky originated in Ireland, and its name comes from the Gaelic phrase ‘uisge beatha’ (‘aqua vitea’ in Latin), which literally means ‘water of life’. Irish monks were brewing the beverage as early as the 7th century. Initially, it was intended to be a medicine and remedy for illnesses, not a tasting liquor. The product of fruit fermentation was extracted and used exclusively for medicinal purposes, as a means of prolonging life, and alleviating certain ailments (like colic) and diseases (paralysis, smallpox and others). According to legend, whisky is believed to have been invented by St. Patrick. The abbreviated form ‘uiskie’ began to be used in the 17th century, and from about 1715, the name took the form ‘whiskie’. The modern name ‘whisky’ was established only in 1736.
Over time, whisky production spread to Scotland. Although Scotch whisky is the most popular in the world today, spirits from the region were initially considered inferior in quality in 1875. This gave rise to the name ‘whiskey’. The Irish added the letter 'e' to whiskey to distinguish it from spirits produced in Scotland. The name remained when they began to immigrate to the United States and opened distilleries there, giving rise to different spellings on labels. Since then, Ireland, North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Russia have used the spelling with an "e," meaning whiskey. In contrast, Scotland and the rest of Europe, Latin America, Turkey, India, Japan, and Indonesia remain with whisky.
Spelling vs. heritage
However, not all liquor produced in the countries mentioned above has a name on the label that is generally accepted in the area. For example, American Maker's Mark labelled whisky because its founders wanted to honour the whisky's Scottish origins. They wrote about it in a Tweet:
Another example is the American whiskey George Dikel, also spelt without the 'e'.
There are many more examples, but the generally accepted principle of specific spelling in a given area is applied.
The way whisky and whiskey are produced
Another difference between whisky and whiskey is the way the liquor is produced. Scotch whisky is classified as a single malt or blended. The former is produced only from barley dried on peat pride, resulting in a smoky flavour. Blended Malt, on the other hand, is a blend of whiskies made from different grains. Whisky originating in Scotland must mature in oak barrels for at least three years and is given a double distillation.
Whiskey production also varies from country to country. In America, whiskey is made from corn, but in Ireland, whiskey is made from barley malt, which is not smoked beforehand. Unlike Scottish whisky, Irish whiskey is usually distilled three times. And this is where we have the basic difference between whiskey and whiskey.
It's one letter in a word for some and a massive difference in taste for others. Several whisky enthusiasts would be disappointed to hear that the difference between whisky and whiskey is only the letter 'e'. However, it is worth paying attention to the spelling if you are sourcing a beverage from a particular country. Whether you drink Scotch or Irish, both countries have delicious beverages to offer, the tradition and method of production of which has been cultivated for generations. Furthermore, advanced connoisseurs often choose Canadian and Japanese whiskies. Regardless of the country where it comes from, or how we spell the name of this beverage, it is undoubtedly nectar for the palate.