I’m so dependent upon spell check, I probably never noticed there was alternative spellings of the word for the amber liquid. I tend to write whiskey1 when not thinking too deeply about the subject. Of course, now the word just looks weird2
I’m looking out there for the one person who apparently was not offended by the spelling of “whiskey’’ in my column on Speyside single malts. If you are that person, allow me to explain.
Whiskey is a word with an alternative spelling, whisky. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Dictionary.com seems to prefer whiskey. The New York Times stylebook definitively prefers whiskey:
whiskey(s). The general term covers bourbon, rye, Scotch and other liquors distilled from a mash of grain. For consistency, use this spelling even for liquors (typically Scotch) labeled whisky.
But clearly, definitively, and somewhat aggressively, people from Scotland and many fans of Scotch have informed me of their preference for whisky over whiskey, judging by the flood of comments and emails I received yesterday. Here is a brief sample:
Graham Kent of London wrote: I cannot pass over the unforgivable use by a serious writer on wines and spirits of ‘whiskey’ to refer to Scotch whisky. He goes on to say: I am afraid I found the constant misspelling of the product made your article quite unreadable. It is exactly the same as if you had called it ‘gin’ all the way through or were to describe Lafite as Burgundy. It is simply a basic error that a reputable writer should not make.
People who write such letters chastising writers over the use or non-use of the letter e in a word really need to find other hobbies. Come on. The comments to this post are funny, in a pedantic idiocy vein3.