The Difference Between “Whiskey” And “Whisky”

irish whiskey, News, scotch, scottish whiskey, whiskey, whiskeys -

The Difference Between “Whiskey” And “Whisky”

Firstly, whiskey (or whisky) is ultimately a spirit made from a mash of fermented grains. You may have noticed the different spellings of whiskey or whisky, and perhaps even shaken it off as American versus British spelling. There is however more to it than the mere spelling of the word, there is an actual difference between whiskey and whisky.

Scotch Whisky

Truth be told, the difference between whiskey and whisky is largely a matter of origin. Whisky distilled and bottled in Scotland has become known as Scotch whisky. The plural is whiskies; and there is no such thing as Scottish whiskey. If in Scotland, one refers to Scotch whiskey or Scottish whiskey, the penalty may well be indefinite social exclusion.

These days whisky is also produced in countries such as Wales, Canada and Japan among others. South African even has its very own locally made Three Ships Whisky.

Whiskey With An E

Whilst the Scottish have always spelt it Whisky, the Irish have always spelt it Whiskey. The spelling difference comes from the translations of the original Irish and Scottish Gaelic words.

Today, whiskey (the plural being whiskeys) also refers to that which is distilled and bottled in America as well as Ireland. This can be attributed to the mass immigration of Irish people to America in the 1700’s; they simply took their ‘e’ with them when they crossed over the Atlantic Ocean.

More Than Spelling

Over and above the spelling, the Scottish and Irish whiskey/y making traditions do differ.

  • Ireland and America use short fat pot stills in the distillation process while distilleries in Scotland tend to use a wider variety of shapes and sizes which impart a diverse range of flavours and character.
  • The Scots would use peat to dry the malted barley while the Irish would usually use wood to dry the malted barley before the milling and mashing could take place. This part of the process makes a big difference to the flavour of the whiskey/y
  • While the Scots would only use malted barley, the Irish would mix it to include other grains, making it cheaper to produce due to the price of barley compared to other grains.
  • The first Americans used different raw materials altogether which is why American whiskey has so little in common with Irish and Scottish whiskey/y these days.

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule, but these are just a few differences in the processes originally carried out by Irish and Scottish distilleries.

… And that, my friend, should set the connoisseurs to rest. Now that you are familiar with the difference between whiskey and whisky, you can stop intellectualising the topic and simply savour what Norman Goodfellows has on offer. Peruse our website or any one of our stores at your leisure and feel free to contact us if you have any queries!