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The History of Whiskey

Whisky, known as whiskey in some countries, is among the most popular spirits in the world and was projected to be an industry worth GBP 44.7 billion in 2018.

Whisky vs Whiskey

Whisky and whiskey are both anglicisation of 'uisce' or 'uisge', two Classical Gaelic words that mean water. When it comes to the variation in modern-day spellings, there are two explanations.

One explanation suggests that the two words are used depending on the region. Whiskey is synonymous with the US and Ireland while whisky is the common term in the rest of the regions. The other school of thought suggests that the two words are used to describe specific styles or origins of the spirit.

Tracing the Origins of Whiskey

The earliest mentions of whisky are in Scotland and Ireland, two countries synonymous with the spirit.

In Scotland, the earliest mention of whisky is in a 1494 record in the from an entry in the Exchequer Rolls for 1494 where the king sends malt to one Friar John Cor, to blend 500 bottles of aqua vitae. In Ireland, the earliest mention is in the 17th C Annals of Clonmacnoise where a chieftain passes on after indulging in excessive aqua vitae during Christmas.

Types of Whiskey

Today, there are dozens of whiskey types categorised depending on the ingredients and style, and origins.

Classifications depending on ingredients and style yield whiskeys such as malt whiskey, grain whiskey, corn whiskey, rye whiskey, single malt whiskey, blended whiskey, etc. When it comes to origin, there are Scottish whiskeys, Irish, Danish, Finnish, German, Indian, and Welsh whiskeys, among others.