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Queensland, Australia
I'm an Australian author of Contemporary Romance, Romantic Action/Adventure, and Historical fiction. I live in Queensland, Australia. www.noelleclark.net

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The people who put the E in whiskey!

I rarely drink alcoholic spirits of any kind, but on occasion am partial to either a Gin and Tonic, or a whiskey.

There seems to be a lot of discussion surrounding which is correct – whiskey or whisky. Well, the answer is simple. Whiskey made in Scotland – Scotch – is spelled whisky. And whiskey made in Ireland (predominantly, but also in Canada, US, and other countries, is spelled whiskey.

I’ve got my Irish theme going at the moment, thanks to my forthcoming release of Honor’s Debt, the first book in the Robinhill Farm Series, which is set in Ireland.

So, throughout this blog post, I will be spelling whiskey with an ‘e’, when it’s appropriate, and without the e when I’m talking about Scotch.  So don’t get upset think that is wrong. It’s not. OK?

Either way, Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky are both wonderful drinks and both rightly deserve the name Water of Life.  The term whiskey (or whisky) comes from the Gaelic uisge beatha (Scottish) or uisce beatha (Irish). There are many varieties of Gaelic which is the Celtic language predominantly spoken in Ireland and in the Highlands of Scotland.

Whiskey is the most popular of all the grain spirits, first thought to be distilled by monks in Ireland as early as the 12th century. There are two kinds of whisky; malt whisky, used essentially in the creation of blended whiskies, or bottled in small proportions as a Single Malt; and grain whisky, which is combined with malt whisky to create the famous blends.

There are several fundamental differences in Scotch whisky and Irish whiskey. Google them if you want more details, but basically there are differences in the distilling phases (double distilled vs triple distilled); in the type of malted barley used; Scotch uses peat smoke, giving it a different aroma; different ageing times, and different maturing processes which result in different tastes, aromas, and colours.

When visiting Ireland, I visited the Jameson’s distillery in Dublin. They have a wonderful visitor’s centre, plus you get some samples at the end. Jameson’s Irish whiskey is triple distilled. Its three main ingredients are barley, maize and pure Irish water. The barley is malted in a three part process which involves steeping the grain in water, then allowing it to germinate, then kiln drying it. Visit www.jamesonwhiskey.com

At Jameson's distillery, Dublin

On the northern coast of Northern Ireland, in Country Antrim, I discovered one of the most beautiful
 coastlines I’ve ever seen. The Giant’s Causeway, quaint little harbour town, ancient castles teetering on thousand foot high cliffs, banded Galways grazing in fields, and the little town of Bushmills, home to the famous Bushmills Distillery.

Bushmills is the oldest licensed whiskey distillery in the world. They received the royal licence back in 1608, and have been making their triple distilled whiskey from a single malt whiskey ever since, the blend resulting in a lighter grain whiskey. http://www.bushmills.com/

Of course, another famous Irish whiskey that springs to mind is Tullamore Dew, but alas I didn’t get to visit their distillery. http://www.tullamoredew.com/

So, next time your ask for a Scotch, or a whiskey, why not sample some of the Irish whiskies. The varieties of whisky/whiskey from both countries are outstanding, each one different, depending on what you try.  There are two kinds of whisky; malt whisky, used essentially in the creation of blended whiskies, or bottled in small proportions as a Single Malt; and grain whisky, which is combined with malt whisky to create the famous blends. Add in the flavours used in the processes, and there’s no end to the variety of tastes and aromas.

The characters in my forthcoming book, Honor’s Debt, (set in Ireland) favour Jameson’s, but I would encourage you to try all the different brands and varieties to see what suits your taste buds.


Honor's Debt - available for pre-order now from:

Out November 13th 


  1. My kind of drink! Fascinating post, Noelle. Thanks for sharing. Slainte!

    1. Thank you Susanne. I love delving into the history of these things we sometimes take for granted. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Fabulous post my dear...finally got time to read it!!

    1. Thanks Shey. Finally got time to reply. :-) Thanks mate. x

  3. I can honestly say I don't care much how it's spelt---not after boat racing drams of the stuff with the locals on the Isle of Aaron. 20 years later, I have yet to recover, just as I have yet to stare a bottle of the amber stuff in the face again. But I still loved the post. Fab.

  4. So, what's your tipple Incy? I like a Chardy or another crips white. Red wine with some meals too. Once in a blue moon a Jameson's and ginger ale, the odd G and T. But mainly chardonnay, even though it seems to have gone out of fashion a bit. But I was never one to worry about that. :-) Thanks for visiting. x