DrinksloverÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s comment left on a previous Ã¢â‚¬Å“WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s In a NameÃ¢â‚¬Â entry led to an email exchange wherein I was told that Ã¢â‚¬Å“Over on this side of the pond, only Scotch is called whisky. US, Canadian and Irish are all strictly referred to as whiskey here, and anyone doing otherwise in a blog or any drinks literature would be shot down.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Feeling more than a little threatened I thought that IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d better look into this a little closer.
First I took a closer look at the ATF guidelines which I used as my basis for making the distinction for names of US distilled alcohol. The word used there is whisky. In fact it is used 183 times in Part 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Labeling and Advertising of Distilled Spirits. But even the author of this riveting document became confused over these two words and used whiskey once.
Complicating the matter, the section of Part 5 that addresses Irish whiskey uses the word whisky. Obviously, the ATF has no respect for the tradition that has long recognized whisky and whiskey as Scottish and Irish respectively thus removing them as a relevant source for this discussion.
But where to turn? The Scottish maintain that the distinction is clear. What they make is whisky. What everyone else makes is whiskey. I suppose the argument eventually goes back to the unanswerable question: Who made it first? Which ever group that was should be able to call the stuff whatever they want.
ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s all interesting but it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get us any closer to answering the question Ã¢â‚¬â€œ what the hell do we call it if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s brewed in the US?
Even the distillers themselves canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seem to agree on this although there does seem to be a clear favorite:
MakerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Mark –> whisky
Knob Creek –> whiskey
Four Roses –> whiskey
Early Times –> whisky
Jack Daniels –> whiskey
Woodford Reserve –> whiskey