When reading about whisky (or whiskey!), or even when you are inspecting your favourite bottle before pouring yourself a dram, you are bound to have noticed the inconsistencies with spellings. Sometimes the ‘e’ is there, other times it is nowhere to be seen!
As a basic answer, the reason behind this is mostly down to regional differences. Entering the realms of the tom-ay-to/tom-ah-to, or the ever-present, scone vs scone debate, the different spellings of the word are based on the country of origin. Scotch, for example, will always be a ‘whisky’ with no ‘e’. The same ‘e-less’ rule applies to bottles produced in Canada, Japan, England, Wales and Australia. Conversely, those made in America and Ireland use ‘whiskey’, popping the letter ‘e’ back into the mix!
However, there is a little more history to it than this simple explanation! These spellings were only cemented during the 20th century. Before that point, the use (or removal) of the extra ‘e’ was a bit of a free-for-all, with distillers all over the world writing ‘whiskey’/’whisky’ however they saw fit.
It is believed by many that the separation between the two spellings, and their corresponding countries, originates from the 19th century when the distilleries in Ireland began to include the ‘e’ as a way to differentiate their whiskeys from those produced in Scotland. Essentially, the ‘e’ was added as a marketing tool, giving the Irish brands a way to distinguish between the different style produced by the Scottish distillers. While there are a couple of exceptions, for the most part, these spelling rules are still maintained by distillers around the world!
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