Much is made of the word’s two spellings: whisky and whiskey. There are two schools of thought on the issue. One is that the spelling difference is simply a matter of local language convention for the spelling of a word, indicating that the spelling will vary depending on the background or personal preferences of the writer (like the difference between color and colour; tire and tyre; or recognize and recognise), and the other is that the spelling should depend on the style or origin of the spirit that is being described. There is general agreement that when quoting the proper name printed on a label, the spelling that is used on the label should not be altered. Some writers will refer to “whisk(e)y” or “whisky/whiskey” to acknowledge the variation.
The spelling whisky (plural: whiskies) is generally used in Canada, Japan, Scotland, and Wales, while whiskey (plural: whiskeys) is more common in Ireland and the United States. The usage is not always consistent – for example, some prominent American brands, such as George Dickel, Maker’s Mark, and Old Forester (which are all made by different companies), use the ‘whisky’ spelling on their labels, and the US legal Standards of Identity for Distilled Spirits document also uses the ‘whisky’ spelling.
“Scotch” is the internationally recognized term for “Scotch whisky”. It is rarely used in Scotland, where the drink is called simply “whisky”.