Whiskey Versus Whisky: Where’s The “E”?

Whiskey vs Whisky Correct SpellingThere are many types of whiskies that fall withing the broad category of whisky. These include bourbon and rye, and whiskies named after their place of origin such as Canadian, Irish, Scotch and Tennessee whiskies. Whisky in Canada is manufactured completely different than Scotch whisky or Irish Whiskey. This gives it a different flavor and feel. American whiskey types are also unique from these other types. They include Tennessee, bourbon and rye.

As for spelling the word itself, it really depends on who you ask. Americans and the Irish tend to lean toward adding the “e” in whiskey. Those living in Canada, Scotland and Japan usually opt for dropping the “e.” This has nothing to do with the liquor itself; instead it depends on writers and copyeditors in those countries.

Recently, however, a compromise has been reached about the acceptable use whiskey versus whisky. Before February of this year, The New York Times used their preferred spelling, “whiskey,” in all articles. This includes when talking about Canadian or Scotch-made drinks.

In February, however, an article in The New York Times about Scotch whisky caused an uproar. Serious Scotch connoisseurs from within the United States and around the world sent complaints to the paper about the choice to add the “e” in whiskey when the Scotch traditionally prefer to spell it without the “e.” This prompted the paper to change its spelling policy in regards to the elixir.

The Times, followed by many publications that regularly focus on this type of spirit, adopted a policy that allows the spelling to follow the preference of the country where the whiskey was produced. Spirits produced in America – bourbon, rye whiskey and Tennessee whiskey – all use the additional “e.” So do Irish whiskeys. If it is made in Scotland or Canada, the “e” is dropped and it is spelled whisky.

This may sound complicated for those who aren’t familiar with the different types of whiskeys, their manufacture methods and their countries of origin. There is an easy way to remember which spirit gets which word, though. There’s a mnemonic trick to help you remember. Simply put, the countries that prefer to keep the “e” both have an “e” in their name. Those who choose to spell it without the “e” don’t have an “e” in their names. Hence, America and Ireland both keep the “e” while Canada, Scotland and Japan all drop the “e.”