Whisky and Whiskey is same to the uninitiated, but holds more than that meets the eye for the ones who love this noble drink. The difference of the letter ‘e’ results not only due to the touch of the heritage, but due to the derivation of it in linguistics, too. The presence of the letter ‘e’ recognises this glorified golden liquid to be of the Irish, and of the Americans. Japan, England, Canada, China, and India too, being producers of whisk(e)y, feel the strong need of keeping the letter ‘e’ in the name.

This difference in the spelling originally comes from the translation of the Gaelic word usquebaugh

 

Whisky or Whiskey

Difference Between Whiskey and Whisky

Whisky is etymologically linked with many spirits, which all refer to the origin of the word ‘spirit’, meaning ‘the quest for the elixir of life’. However, whisky’s personal etymological journey began from the ancient Gaelic (Celtic language, native to the Gaels of Scotland) term uisge beatha or usquebaugh, literally meaning ‘water of life’. In Old Irish, uisce meant ‘water’ and bethu meaning ‘life.’ The journey then progressed on to the English language, where the early recorded spellings in English were iskie bae (1580s) and usquebea (1706). In Ireland and Scotland whisky was obtained from malt, whereas in the U.S. it was obtained from corn and rye. The letter ‘e’ was taken to the United States by the Irish immigrants in the 1700s. And wherever the Scots went, they preferred keeping the letter ‘e’ at bay.

Therefore, in the 19th century, the slight spelling distinction between whisky and whiskey was created, the former the Scottish Whisky and the latter American Whiskey. The term Whisky Sour was recorded from 1889.

The Etymology of the term ‘alcohol’, which appeared in the English language in the 16th century, in itself has interesting derivations. Distillation is often attributed to the Arabs. The term itself was derived from the medieval Latin and more specifically from the Arabic al-kuhl. ‘Al’ is the definitive article ‘the’, whereas ‘kuhl’ is ‘kohl’, the powdered form of eyeliner or other powders obtained by the process of sublimation. The term alcohol, the way which it is used today, is known to be recorded in 1753, meaning ‘intoxicating ingredient in strong liquor’. The ‘water of life’ is a term that is also applied to other spirits, for instance aquavit, deriving from the Latin aqua vitae, literally meaning water of life.

Whisky and Whiskey

The modern geographical distribution of the terms whisky and whiskey is split into: The Americans and Irish prefer whiskey whereas the Scots, Canadians and the rest of the world’s whisky makers prefer the term Whisky.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Irish
Gaelic uisce beatha, and
Scottish Gaelic uisge beatha.
Hence, in
Ireland it became whiskey,
and in Scotland, whisky.
This letter ‘e’ was taken to the United States by the Irish immigrants in the 1700s and has been used ever since. And wherever the Scots went, they preferred keeping the letter ‘e’ at bay.