What’s The Difference Between ‘Whiskey’ And ‘Whisky?’ An Expert Explains

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If you’re a fan of scotch, bourbon, or any other drink from the wonderful world of grain-based dark liquors, you’ve probably noticed there’s some inconsistency when it comes to the spelling of the word that encompasses the entire family of drinks: whiskey… or should I say “whisky?”

I didn’t actually know the answer to that question.

Business Insider spoke to Ewan Gunn, a Whisky Master and Global Brand Ambassador at Diageo. Gunn— who specializes in Scotch— has worked in the industry for almost two decades, so it’s safe to say he knows a thing or two about his whisk(e)y.

According to Gunn, the difference in spelling comes down to the liquor’s country of origin as opposed to any specific method of production. As a general rule, spirits made in Scotland, Canada, and Japan are dubbed “whisky,” while “whiskey” generally refers to anything distilled in Ireland or the United States.

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Just to complicate matters, there are a few American brands who eschew the “e,” including Maker’s Mark and Old Forester. Way to be difficult, guys.

At least they’re pronounced the same— the last thing I need is another excuse for a douchey bartender to correct me for not knowing something.