which is correct whisky or whiskey?: Information Roundup
Either whisky or whiskey is correct, although whisky appears to be the older and preferred spelling for general purposes. Whiskies is the correct plural of whisky, and whiskeys of whiskey. In trade usage, however, "Scotch whisky" and "Irish whiskey" are thus distinguished; that is, commercially speaking there is no such thing as true "Irish" [page 23] whisky and "Scotch whiskey." This probably accounts for the fact that there is a continual argument in many newspaper offices as to the proper spelling of the word. It is not uncommon to see it spelled both whisky and whiskey in the same edition of a newspaper or magazine. Often the editorial and advertising departments differ on the spelling. It is a common error to spell the singular whiskey and the plural whiskies. Whisky is believed to be derived from Gaelic usquebaugh, a corrupted combination of uisge, "water," and beatha, "life," literally meaning "water of life." It was first applied to a spirituous liquor distilled from malted grain in Ireland and Scotland. Which country was the first to make the product is a disputed question. Usquebaugh, recorded as early as 1591, gradually became whiskybae, which was finally shortened to whisky. Some Scottish writers continued to use the earlier form of the word. For instance, in Tam o'Shanter, Robert Burns wrote:
The earliest use of whisky recorded by the Oxford dictionary is dated >7t5. Some suggest that the term may be derived from Old Irish huisk, "strong," and eah, "water," but that theory is unsupported by etymological evidence. There may be a distant relationship between the Gaelic word and Latin aqua vitae (literally "water of life"), which the medieval alchemists applied to unrectified alcohol distilled from wine, especially brandy. The corresponding French phrase is eau de vie, also meaning "water of life," which is still the French name for brandy. Brandy itself was originally brande-wine or brandy-wine, signifying "burnt wine" and referring to its distillation from wine or grapes.
Inspiring bold John Barleycorn!What danger thou canst make us scorn!
Wi' Tipenny, we fear nae evil,
Wi' Usqueba, we'll face the devil!