First of all the word whiskey comes from the Irish meaning “uisce beatha”, Gaelic for the “water of life”. It has been long debated by Scotland and Ireland who was the first country to first distill whiskey. It was believed that the first whiskey was made by monks in the north as a way to preserve grain made during the growing season. Both Scotland and Ireland distilled whiskey the same way but their processes were considerably different. In Scotland their malted barley was dried under an open peat fire which made it acquire a smoky flavor. The Irish on the other hand dried their malt over a closed oven and never acquired a smoky characteristic.
—Whiskey spelled with an “e” is usually whiskey made from the America or Ireland. Some distilleries in these regions will occasionally spell their whiskey without an “e” (i.e. Maker’s Mark whisky, George Dickel Tennessee Whisky)
—Whisky spelled with no “e” is usually whisky made from Scotland or Canada.
Initially all whisky was spelled with no “e” but in the late 1800’s Scotch whisky developed a very poor reputation for their whisky. Back then the mainstream Scotch producers used coffey stills (continous stills) that did not create a desirable flavor and were meant for making cheap whisky quickly. Scotch whisky makers flooded the market with a poor quality whisky and soon made a poor name for all whisky producers. So Ireland and American distilleries began using an “e” to distinguish their whiskey from the then awful Scotch whisky that was being made at the time.
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