Even though I’m proud of my lineage year round, during this time of year I become more aware of my Irish/Scottish heritage. Sure, part of it’s the whole St. Patrick’s Day thing, but it’s also a nice distraction while waiting to order seeds and seed potatoes for the upcoming season. All-the-while watching for the daffodils in my back yard to pop up, that’s when I know spring, is imminent. The term whiskey/whisky comes from the Gaelic and means “water of life” leaving me to wonder if that is part of the reason that Irishmen have been cast as drinkers of copious amounts of alcohol, or if they actually believe it… As with any stereotype, there is definitely some truth to it. There is even some debate as to whether it is nature or nurture that causes the Irish to drink more than other groups of people.
That stereotype is usually used to poke fun at the Irish or as an excuse to drink more than usual, but if you think about it, the Irish is the only ethnic group that carries a negative stereotype that is publicly accepted and on 1 night a year, imitated. I’ve always wondered why some whiskey is spelled with the “e” and others spelled without the “e.” Being sentimental, I was hoping for some romantic and deeply rooted explanation why Ireland spells whiskey with it and why Scotland spells whisky without it. Nope, it just boiled down to preference.
Whiskey producers in Ireland and the United States prefer to spell it with the “e”, while whisky produced in Scotland, Canada, Australia, and Japan prefer no “e”. Here is a mnemonic device to help remember who spells it how: the countries that spell it without, has no “e” in their country’s name (Scotland, Canada, Australia, and Japan) while the countries that use the “e” have one in their name (United States, Ireland.) Whether it is spelled with or without it, it is produced using the same method. Don’t think for a minute that it doesn’t matter how it is spelled, just ask the New York Times. They adopted the policy that they would just spell it whiskey regardless of where it was produced; the backlash that occurred from serious whiskey/whisky drinkers was enough for them to go back to the traditional spelling from the producer’s country. I guess whether whisky drinkers are bleary-eyed or not, somehow they seem to notice whether or not there is an “e” on the label of their intoxicant!
Update: The Guy just dropped off the haggis, stay tuned….