Connoisseurs of fine liquor can debate how to spell whiskey until their bottle runs dry. Whiskey can be spelled two different ways, with or without an “e” near the end. The difference comes from geography, language, and history. Spirits On Ice explains why you may see some bottles announce it contains whiskey, while others use whisky.
History and Language
The actual word “whiskey” comes from a mispronunciation of the Irish Gaelic phrase “uisce beatha” or “uisge beatha,” literally, “water of life.” A similar phrase is used in Scottish Gaelic. It comes from the Middle Ages when monks distilled grains into alcohol.
As the word translated to English in the 1800s, the Irish spelled it with the extra vowel but the Scottish did not. These geographical divisions helped both regions distinguish their products. Either way, Spirits On Ice believes whiskey or whisky works perfectly with quick-chilling, slow-melting ice balls.
As the whiskey industry advanced beyond Catholic monks in the Middle Ages, Ireland and Scotland separated their industries for marketing purposes in the late 1800s. Until that point, Irish producers argued that cheaper Scottish knock-offs couldn’t be real whiskey. Whiskey, with an “e,” became the standard for Ireland. Whisky, without the “e,” was used in Scotland. That trend continues today, for the most part.
In America and Ireland, expect to see whiskey for a large majority of spellings. Everywhere else in the world, including Scotland, mainland Europe, and Asia, spells this hard liquor without the “e.” Spirits On Ice lets you enjoy your whiskey or whisky on the rocks without the fast dilution that comes from standard ice cubes.
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Modern standards for the spelling of whiskey versus whisky come from newspapers in the 1950s. That’s when the AP Stylebook, along with the New York Times and LA Times, standardized the word whiskey for publications. Newspaper style guides listed exceptions for whisky that came from Scotland and Canada. Spirits On Ice enhances the flavor of any type of whiskey, regardless of where it’s from or what style guides say.
Although Ireland and the United States typically use whiskey as the spelling, that is not always the case. Some major distillers, such as George Dickel, Maker’s Mark, and Old Forester, use the whisky spelling on their labels. Meanwhile, the Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits and the U.S. Code use whisky when defining the malted spirit. In short, there is some rhyme and reason to whiskey or whisky, but not much. It’s still the same fine, distilled spirit you enjoy as a part of Spirits On Ice.
Elevating Whiskey (or Whisky) with Spirits On Ice
If you are a connoisseur of fine spirits who loves great whiskey (and whisky), or you are a bar owner looking to elevate your drink offerings, an ice ball maker is for you. At Spirits On Ice, we offer the Spirit Ice Vice, the top ice ball machine on the market. Give us a call at (513) 932-1250 or contact us online for more information.