No matter how you spell it, whisky/ey is an umbrella term for a type of spirit distilled from a mash of fermented grains. And underneath that umbrella are a few sub-categories, including bourbon, rye, Tennessee, Scotch, Irish, and Canadian style whiskies. Each type of whisky/ey is guided and regulated by the government of the spirit’s country of origin. Each one is unique in production, taste and use.
So now that we’ve covered the different kinds of whiskies, let’s get down to the tricky stuff. American and Irish liquor producers tend to favor the spelling whiskey, while Canadian, Scottish and Japanese producers tend to favor whisky.
Up until recently, The New York Times tackled this problem by spelling everything the American way (with an E), regardless of the spirit’s country of origin. But after receiving a wave of complaints from some serious Scotch whisky drinkers, the paper re-tooled its approach to follow that of many specialized spirits publications, spelling each type of spirit according to the way favored by its country of origin.
If you really want to keep these different spellings straight, here’s a quick way to remember:
Countries that have E’s in their names (UnitEd StatEs and IrEland) tend to spell it whiskEy (plural whiskeys).
Countries without E’s in their names (Canada, Scotland, and Japan) spell it whisky (plural whiskies).
So now that you’ve completed the educational portion of this post, it’s time to move on to the fun part. Pour yourself a glass of whiskey or whisky, and enjoy!