Whisky or whiskey: Why the two spellings?


Eagle-eyed whisky drinkers will have noticed inconsistencies with the spellings of ‘whisky’ or ‘whiskey’ from one region to another. But why do some countries omit the letter ‘e’, while others keep it in? 

The reasons between the spelling of ‘whisky’ and ‘whiskey’ are also somewhat confusing. So confusing – befuddling even – that by the end of this you may regret asking what seemed to be such a simple question.

The spelling of Scotch whisky (no ‘e’) is enshrined in law. The same applies to Canadian whisky, while Japan, England, Wales, the Nordics, Australia (you get my drift) follow that lead. As you correctly point out, American and Irish producers use the alternate spelling, with the ‘e’. Mostly.

These spellings were, however, only fixed in the 20th century. Up until then, the extra ‘e’ was being flung around as if at a rave in the 1990s. Some distillers – be they in Scotland, Ireland, or the US – used the ‘e’. Others didn’t.


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