bobnboguslavski.com Blogs - News

View All Blog Posts

Bookmark and Share
Subject: Westport #94 - Whaddup with Whiskey vs. Whisky?
(Posted on Jun 4, 2014 at 03:34PM ) Tags:
So what is it all about when you see that word spelled both ways, with or without 'e' in there? Supposedly a logic to it all drives that, but it is not always adhered to it seems. Go figure. Kinda like with a lot of things in the world.

As mentioned in the book, it is dependent on where the drink comes from, but many times, in practice, folks just spell it the way they want, based on what part of the world they are from. This includes writers and copy editors alike. 

First, here’s the Wikpedia skinny of what a whisky / whiskey is, to begin with. As for 'correct' spelling, there seems to have been a rethink on this the last few years though. This fine piece on The Kitchn goes into good detail on the whole matter, and settles on the following rule (going by country of origin, and what is on the bottle label):

- E in country name (e.g., United States / America and Ireland), then spell it whiskey, and the plural as whiskeys.
- No e in country name (e.g., Canada, Scotland, Japan, Australia, Finland, and India), then spell it whisky, and the plural as whiskies.

Note how the dueling plural forms of the word  can further bamboozle folks. Overall though, I  dig this simple rule and it makes complete sense by what it says on the bottle.

But then, Germany, England, and Wales had to come along and $%@* that up and spell it whisky nonetheless with their own products. So much for what makes sense in the world.


When using the term generically, go ahead and write it anyway you want, depending on where you are in the world, and your audience, as long as you are consistent. The venerable NY Times Dining column used to try and do that per here through late 2008, but then seems to have capitulated to the newer thinking here in early 2009. Hey, shit happens. Deal with it and move on is the motto to follow. 

These older chaps below, earlier on, went and messed the spelling up with their rendition of the word as whuskey in song.

Red Ingle and the Natural Seven singing "Cigareetes, Whuskey, and Wild, Wild, Women"  (1948)
The Muppet Show (special guest Peter Sellers), season 2, episode 18, original airing Feb. 25, 1978

Words of wisdom for the ages, unless you want to nail the trifecta, pardon the pun. There are many versions of this song, but the two here were mentioned in the book, in my conversation with Pops di Tomaso and his favorite rendition. There was no debate either back then about whether it was whuskey or whusky. That was for wussies, no doubt.

As for any other countries making the spirit that may or may not adhere to that rule, you can check that out, one by one, on Malt Madness if you have mucho mas time on your hands, and looking for something new to sip on. 

A place like Thailand and its whiskies adhere to the spelling rule, but those tipples are not actually officially deemed a whisky to begin with, per this 2011 Intoxicated Abroad posting and the Wiki definition above. BNB very much digs our main man Matt’s slogan, “Life’s too short to be sober at home.” It’s way better to be some single guy abroad, be it at weddings, or on other (mis)adventures cum vacations.

Like many things in life, best not to think about stuff too much, and just go friggin’ do it. And then, I suppose as long as the bartender knows what to pour, then you are golden. I end this post with a nifty little infographic on whisk(e)y to mull while sippin’ sumpin’ smoooooove.
 

Cheers, and bottoms up, Bobbolin(o/a)!