How to tell whisky from whiskey from corn liquor

You may not be aware of this, but the term “whisky” actually includes an entire host of spirits ranging from Kentucky bourbon to fine Canadian rye and single-malt Scotch. With that in mind, let’s take a tour of what’s what and where your favorite brown mash falls in.


First off, there is a great divide (about as big as the Atlantic Ocean in fact) about how to properly spell the term in general. The word itself comes from the Old Irish term “uisce beatha” which translates roughly to “water of life.” In general, most Irish and American distillers use the spelling with the “e,” as a holdover from when the Irish first exported their strong fermented mash to the new world and used the extra vowel to differentiate what they felt was their superior product from Scottish whisky makers. As such, you can expect Glenfiddich to be classified as a whisky while Jack Daniels is a Tennessee whiskey (more on this below). There are few who go against the grain, however. An example of this is Maker’s Mark who classifies their Bourbon as a whisky.

For more, check out the rest of the article in my column at 1816 by Remington

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