What is difference between whiskey and Whisky?
The Irish spell whiskey with an e between the k and the y while their Scottish counterparts leave out the e. The distinction, in addition to being the bane of proof readers, also offers some important insights into the evolution and history of whisky.
Canada, India and Japan, the three other major whisky producers, also follow the Scottish spelling. Most of the rest of the world has followed suit. The US follows the Irish example and spells whiskey with an e, although there are a number of major exceptions. George Dickel, Makers Mark and Old Forester all follow the Scottish spelling.
There are any number of theories to explain the alternative spelling of whiskies, from differing translations of uisge beatha, the original name for whisky, between Irish and Scotch Gaelic to myopic typesetters or personal taste. The reality, however, is far more complex.
Until the late 19th century, most of the world spelled whisky without an e. Even the major Irish distillers, then the biggest in the world, followed the practice, as did American distillers.
In 1860, the Gladstone government passed the Spirits Act. The act allowed whisky blenders, for the first time, to create blends consisting of grain whisky and single malts. At the time, Ireland was the center of the world’s whisky production.