August 16, 2010

Whisk(e)y: to "e" or not to to "e"?

Now that we've mapped both the areas that prefer drinking over eating and which parts of the world prefer which types of alcohol, it seemed apropos to introduce our fascination with language into the cybergeography of alcohol.

It all goes back to an age old question: do you spell whisk(e)y with, or without, the "e"? And while the roots of the disagreement come from linguistic differences between the Scottish and Irish, the reverberations of this debate can be felt at pubs all across the world. So who spells it with the "e"? And who spells it without [1]?

Sadly enough, we are unable to come to come to a definitive answer on which the world prefers. As the amber haze which covers the above map indicates, most of the world seems to have a fuzzy grasp of how to spell the term, with references to each spelling being equal across most of the world [2]. Perhaps they are just too intoxicated to care which way it is spelled?

Interestingly, the few places where references to one or another spelling predominate are not located in the actual places associated with those spellings. Instead, references to "whisky" are most prevalent in South America, while an interesting mixture of the two spellings can be seen in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Even Ireland and Scotland seem to be a bit mearbhall about which is spelling is correct.

[1] For what it's worth, Willie Nelson spells it with the "e", but Whisky a Go Go leaves the "e" out.
[2] Places where references to both spellings equal zero were excluded.


  1. I found this and your previous post on the different types of alcohol by region very interesting. Perhaps the fact that most places spell whiskey interchangably is telling in and of itself.

  2. It is my understanding that the spellings "Scotch" and "whisky" are to be used only in reference to Scotch Whisky, and the spellings "Scots" and "whiskey" are to be used in all other contexts.


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