Day 23 of the A to Z April Challenge: W for Whiskey

26 April 2014

Not much to write about today other than the blindingly obvious….Whisky or whiskey, a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, buckwheat and corn are all used to make different varieties of whisky, which is typically aged in white oak wooden casks – not always, but generally.

Whisky is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many classes and types. The typical unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, distillation and aging in wooden barrels.

The word whisky (or whiskey) is an anglicisation of the Gaelic word uisce or uisge meaning water. Distilled alcohol was known in Latin as aqua vitae (“water of life”). This was translated to Gaelic as Irish – uisce beatha – and Scottish Gaelic – uisge beatha – “lively water” or “water of life”.

Wikipedia discusses the two spellings of the word – whisky and whiskey – and details two schools of thought on the issue: “One is that the spelling difference is simply a matter of regional language convention for the spelling of a word, indicating that the spelling varies (like everything in family and local history!), depending on the intended audience or the background or personal preferences of the writer (like the difference between color and colour; tire and tyre; or recognize and recognise), and the other is that the spelling should depend on the style or origin of the spirit being described. There is general agreement that when quoting the proper name printed on a label, the spelling on the label should not be altered.”

Whisky is the spelling more generally used in Canada, Japan, Scotland, England, and Wales, whereas whiskey is more common in Ireland and the United States.

Goodness me! We are nearing the end of the A to Z April Challenge – what will I blog about in May?….

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