Is it whisky or whiskey?

Is it Whisky or Whiskey?

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“Whiskey” and “whisky” are the same word. Sure, here in the USA whiskey is usually spelled with an “e”, and the same for Ireland. But not always – for instance, Balcones Distilling (Texas), George Dickel (Tennessee), Jefferson’s, Maker’s Mark and Old Forester are popular American whisky – spelled without the “e”.

In Scotland and Canada, the spirit is usually spelled whisky, without the “e”, but again, this isn’t traditional : historical records clearly show that both spellings were used in both countries, until the mid 20th century.

For perhaps the final word, according to American law whisk(e) is spelled without the (e)!

Here are the actual rules from U.S. Federal law,  Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco Products and Firearms, Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits §5.22 The standards of identity

(b) Class 2; whisky. “Whisky” is an alcoholic distillate from a fermented mash of grain produced at less than 190° proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to whisky, stored in oak containers…

(1)(i) “Bourbon whisky”, “rye whisky”, “wheat whisky”, “malt whisky”, or “rye malt whisky” is whisky produced at not exceeding 160° proof from a fermented mash of not less than 51 percent corn, rye, wheat, malted barley, or malted rye grain, respectively…

Spelling choices are purely arbitrary, and not fixed. Expert Chuck Cowdry debunks spelling myths in these articles:

Whiskey or Whisky? New York Times Buckles To Pressure From Scotch Snobs. Chuck Cowdry

Whiskey or Whisky? I’m No Lincoln II. Chuck Cowdry.

 

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