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Whiskey vs Whisky: Words Matter


Twohearted
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It's supposedly a nod to the Scottich heritage of the Samuels family. Although I do remember reading somewhere that it's more likely to have originated as a marketing gimmick...

Interestingly, according to Wikepedia

Technically, in United States law, the official American spelling is "whisky"; however, the historic American spelling of "whiskey" is tolerated, and the vast majority of American distillers spell the word with the "e".

Of course this is Wikipedia, so it may not be entirely accurate...

Cheers,

Matt

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Interestingly, according to Wikepedia
Technically, in United States law, the official American spelling is "whisky"; however, the historic American spelling of "whiskey" is tolerated, and the vast majority of American distillers spell the word with the "e".

Of course this is Wikipedia, so it may not be entirely accurate...

All you have to do is look at the language of the code. For example, look at 27 C.F.R. § 5.22, the "Standards of Identity" for distilled spirits:

(b) Class 2; whisky. “Whisky” is an alcoholic distillate from a fermented mash of grain produced at less than 190° proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to whisky, stored in oak containers (except that corn whisky need not be so stored), and bottled at not less than 80° proof, and also includes mixtures of such distillates for which no specific standards of identity are prescribed.

Note the spelling.

Much of the pertinent legal regulations may be found here, in 27 C.F.R. PART 5—LABELING AND ADVERTISING OF DISTILLED SPIRITS.

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All you have to do is look at the language of the code.  For example, look at 27 C.F.R. § 5.22, the "Standards of Identity" for distilled spirits:
(b) Class 2; whisky. “Whisky” is an alcoholic distillate from a fermented mash of grain produced at less than 190° proof in such manner that the distillate possesses the taste, aroma, and characteristics generally attributed to whisky, stored in oak containers (except that corn whisky need not be so stored), and bottled at not less than 80° proof, and also includes mixtures of such distillates for which no specific standards of identity are prescribed.

Note the spelling.

Much of the pertinent legal regulations may be found here, in 27 C.F.R. PART 5—LABELING AND ADVERTISING OF DISTILLED SPIRITS.

Unless, of course, you're in Kentucky and looking at the language of the code there, where "whisky" doesn't seem to be the preferred spelling, as example:

244.370 Whiskey to be aged -- Exception if not labeled as Kentucky whiskey.

No whiskey produced in Kentucky, except whiskey the barrel containing which is branded "Corn Whiskey" under the internal revenue laws, shall be bottled in Kentucky or removed from this state unless such whiskey has been aged in oak barrels for a period of not less than one (1) full year; provided, however, that whiskey aged less than one (1) year may be removed from the state and bottled, or bottled in Kentucky, if the word "Kentucky" or any word or phrase implying Kentucky origin does not appear on the front label....

Note the spelling.

As in most things language, ambiguity and inconsistency rule. Keeps it fun.

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Interesting. Although that would tend to fit right in with the idea that "in United States law, the official American spelling is 'whisky'; however, the historic American spelling of 'whiskey' is tolerated." Kentucky state code could be expected to use the historical local spelling.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

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Interesting.  Although that would tend to fit right in with the idea that "in United States law, the official American spelling is 'whisky'; however, the historic American spelling of 'whiskey' is tolerated."  Kentucky state code could be expected to use the historical local spelling.

I'm not so sure. It's not just state codes that vacillate.

Go browse around ttb.gov (treasury's alcohol tax division) and you'll find that there's a pretty even split between spellings, though where definitions are offered it seems that "whiskey" outweighs "whisky" in the code.

ATF is similarly confused.

I'm not sure I know where to look for the "official American spelling", given the rampant inconsistencies in the federal code.

Wikipedia, I think, is using authoritative tone where it might not be so appropriate (imagine that).

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Would it be possible that whoever wrote these codes used both spellings while they were writing them? I'm sure I've read this somewhere before... :wacko:

It often happens when you have two similar words. The likes of there/their/they're and loose/lose are great examples of words that are constantly mixed up.

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This bothered me, too.  I'm glad the article and the NYT style book got corrected. 

Good to see this diligence, sometimes.

When one of R. W. Apple's last NYT articles resurrected famous misinformation from the 1985 Austrian wine scandal, I wrote in. (In 1985, journalists misidentified an adulterant in the scandal as a different chemical, far more toxic and notorious. The error badly damaged Austria's wine industry, most of whose players had nothing to do with wine adulteration anyway. The real adulterant in the scandal was half as toxic as alcohol, by standard data available in any library in the world. This became a famous story of reckless journalism, in wine encyclopedias ever since.)

An editor replied with the strange assertion that my statement was inaccurate according to a consultant who checked the standard reference book I'd cited. That was wrong, as the editor could easily have found by checking my source directly. I'd even included further fact-checking references to two of the wine-encyclopedia stories mentioned above.

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