Whisky or whiskey: who put the 'e' in?
These stories reflect my experiences or perspectives formed during great conversations over a few drams with some really great folk in the world of whisky. Enjoy the journey and partake in the conversations.
So, who put the E in whiskey?
Those of us of a certain age hold our heads in despair reading the imaginative spellings adopted by the youth of today – “fings ain't what they used to be innit.” But we should not be too quick to judge. The English language - and its many variations outside the UK - has more idiosyncrasies than scotch whisky... or should it be whiskey?
The EU and their E’s
Was there an E originally but it was cut out for reasons of economy (after all the Scots are known for their thrift)? The EEC (another E lost when it became the EU) insisted on an E on whisky labels after the contents (700ml e) - if we don’t need an E in the name, we certainly don’t need any nasty E’s on the label. The EU would probably have wanted to call it whiskeeey and imposed a quota on it - heaven forbid.
The First Whisky or Aqua Vitae
The chap responsible for the first whisky, Friar John Cor, referred to it as Aqua vitae and that has an e. It evolved from a drink called uisge beatha or water of life - plenty of ‘e’s there!
Canadian or Irish Whiskey
Yet there is no E in sight when we refer to Scotch whisky or for that matter it’s Japanese or Canadian cousins. So, did the E get lost in the mists of time or was the E added to US and Irish whiskey to avoid confusion? Strange as the US is notorious for leaving out letters rather than adding them - color and labor? It could be that the E is to aid pronunciation - after all it is said ‘whiskee’. But there is little logic to the way words are spoken either side of the pond - we say boy they say booyee.
Those Southerners sure love their E’s with no less than 5 in Tennessee Whiskey - that's just plain greeedy.
Isle of Skye
Fine whisky from the Isle of Skye should surely be whiskye?
What would a Yorkshireman say?
On taking the first sip of Firkin, a Yorkshireman might exclaim ‘E’ee ba gum, that’s a grand drop that is, by ‘eck as like’. They love their E’s - not so keen on their H’s so I suppose they would spell it wiskey?
No E no worries
There is no answer to the E conundrum. The solution? Don’t worry about the E - the next letter of the alphabet is far more important - F for Firkin! So, raise your glasses to all those folks making great whisk(e)y for us to enjoy.
Another fork in the road on the whisky journey taken by the Firkin Founder Mike Collings.
Written by Mike Collings & Jane Offler