Whether you’re a seasoned drinker or are only just starting to experiment, whiskey is certainly a globally-loved tipple of choice.
But don’t fear – if you have no idea what you’re doing when you drink (and order) it, you’re not alone.
While it may seem obvious to some, “What’s the difference between ‘whiskey’ and ‘whisky?'” is an often asked – and Googled – question.
In honour of Burns Night, which takes place on Wednesday January 25 to commemorate the death of Scottish poet Robert Burns with lots of haggis and whisky, Business Insider spoke to Ewan Gunn, Global Brand Ambassador and Whisky Master for global drinks giant Diageo, to finally get to the bottom of the answer.
Gunn is an expert on Scotch, and has been in the industry for 19 years. For the past decade, his role – a hybrid of PR, media, brand education, and training – aims to tell people how to sell it, how it’s made, and why it tastes the way it does.
He also knows how to spell it.
“Scotch whisky is always spelled without the ‘e’ – we use the extra time to enjoy the liquid itself,” he joked. That makes it “whiskies” when made plural.
Canada and Japan usually go with the “whisky” spelling as well.
Meanwhile, he said: “Irish whiskey is always spelled with an ‘e’, and American is usually spelled with an ‘e’, but there are some exceptions.” The plural of this version is “whiskeys.”
So there you have it – the spelling simply comes down to where the whisky – or whiskey – was made.
If that’s still tricky to remember, food website The Kitchn came up with a clever way to make it stick – countries with “e”‘s in their names (United States and Ireland) tend to use “whiskey,” while those without an “e” (Scotland, Canada, and Japan) go with “whisky.”