Why is whisky spelled two ways?

Whisky/Whiskey, a drink often used in parties, or as a way of celebrating has two spellings. One that adds an extra “e”, and one that doesn’t.

If you’re someone who tends to consume whiskey very often and have seen the word on the internet while scavenging for it, then you might’ve noticed that it’s spelled two ways. One without an “e”, and one with an “e”. 

Have you ever wondered why that is? Have you ever thought about the reason behind the two different spellings? If you have, then continue reading this article as it’ll explain the reason behind the two spellings.

Why is whisky spelled two ways

Why is whisky spelled two ways – Origins:

The original spellings were whisky, and the ones enshrined in the law. Almost every country uses whisky, but the American and Irish producers use whiskey instead of whisky most of the time.

These spellings were fixed in the 20th century, but before that the extra “e” was just being flung around.

Why is whisky spelled two ways – The reason behind it:

Most distillers didn’t use it, apart from Scottish, Irish, and American. The distillers who did use the extra “e” only did so as a means of differentiating their whisky from scotch. Changing the spellings worked, and these distillers gained popularity almost instantly and their whisky was regarded as a higher quality one.

Later, a counterblast against grain whisky was written by the main Irish producers in 1879 titled “Truths About Whisky”. During that time, contemporary adverts for Dublin whiskey merchants had “e” in it, while distillers like George Roe and Cruiskeen Lawn stuck with the original spellings.

The counterblast led to a Royal Commission sitting in 1908, and was title “Enquiry into whiskey and other potable spirits”. After the Commission, the Scots went back to using the original spellings while the Irish decided to stick with the extra “e”. Canada followed the Scots, while the Americans chose to use the extra “e”.

With that being said, not all American brands use “e”. Brands like Maker’s Mark and George Dickel prefer the original spellings rather than the extra “e” option. To clear things up, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) regulations, governing Bourbon, etc, use the spelling ‘whisky’ as the correct legal term.

Although, using whiskey is not considered illegal as it’s traditional. With that being said, using whiskey is still not the law, so the majority of distillers are in fact not abiding by the laws.

Why is whisky spelled two ways – Conclusion:

The only reason that the extra “e” came into play was that the Scotts wanted to differ their whisky from Scotch. It ended up increasing their popularity, and even the rank of their whisky. Although the extra “e” may not be legal, it is still permissible to use. 

It’s still not the law, so considering it illegal may also be correct, although you won’t be charged for it. This article has gone through the reason behind the two spellings in detail, and we hope that all your questions have been answered. 

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