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Whiskey, Whisky, Bourbon…

What's the difference?

Is there a difference?

How can I tell?


The spelling debate that swirls around this cherished spirit. Is there a difference, and how can one discern it? As a mixologist and the resident bar nerd at Brooklyn's Down South, I'm frequently fielding questions about this intriguing beverage. This has lead me to an in-depth study or its rich traditions.


Let's dive in,


The dual spellings, "whisky" and "whiskey," primarily stem from regional traditions and historical influences. In general, "whisky" is commonly used in Scotland and Canada, while "whiskey" is the preferred spelling in Ireland and the United States.


The presence or absence of the "e" can often be traced back to the historical evolution of the spirit. Scotch whisky, for instance, tends to omit the "e," following the tradition of its Scottish origins. Meanwhile, Irish and American whiskey typically include the "e" in their spelling.


Bourbon gets its name from Bourbon County, Kentucky, where it is said to have originated. This American whiskey is distinct in its production process, which includes the use of at least 51% corn in the grain mixture. The term "Bourbon" was likely attached to this style of whiskey as a way to distinguish it from other spirits and highlight its

Kentucky roots. While the exact historical origins have some ambiguity, the association with Bourbon County, Kentucky, has become a defining characteristic of this popular whiskey.


Today, for a whiskey to be legally labeled as bourbon in the United States, it must adhere to specific regulations, including the grain composition, aging process, and bottling proof.


This linguistic distinction became more solidified over time due to cultural preferences and regional regulations. While there are exceptions, the choice of spelling is often a marker of the spirit's origin and the traditions that have shaped its production.


"As we raise a glass to the fascinating world of whisky and its nuanced spellings, we invite you to join us at Brooklyn's Down South. Come savor the diversity of this cherished spirit in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Whether you prefer 'whiskey' or 'whisky,' our expert mixologists are here to guide you through a curated selection. Visit us today for a memorable whiskey experience and share a hearty cheers with us.


🥃Sláinte Mhaith!!! ( "Good health" in Irish Gaelic )🥃


Sean Cope / Bar Director

Brooklyns Down South

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