Whisky in the Jar, err... Whiskey in the Jar?

Who that loves Whiskey has never heard or sang Whiskey in the Jar?

And not wondered what it is? Whiskey or Whisky?
So have you ever heard this traditional Celtic folk song Whiskey in the Jar or Whisky in the Jar?
How do you spell Whiskey? Is it Whisky?

Well, while writing, we usually use both Whisky and Whiskey interchangeably and consider them as mere homophones but there is a difference, or rather a few differences that decides which one is a whisky and which is a whiskey.

?Whisky? derives from the Gaelic term usquebaugh which translates as ?water of life?. Uisge means water. Beatha means life. -- BBC Good Food

Basically whiskey is a distilled liquor of the fermented grains of cereals like malt, barley, wheat or rye, aged in oak containers. The rest is in the way of words from the Scottish and Irish Gaelic forms were translated.

Irish Whiskey

E or not E What is it in a Whiskey?

Let's point out at some facts that define how we associate Whisky or Whiskey with the liquor

Firstly: In the late 1800s the Scottish Whisky was of very poor quality and the Irish producers wanted to distinguish themselves from the Scots, thus the translation from the Irish Gaelic which was spelled preferably as Whiskey was emphasised.

Secondly: In our times, the spellings are broadly associated with cultures, visibly, Americans and the Irish refer to this golden liquor as Whiskey while the Scots and the Canadians refer to it as Whisky.

Thirdly and Most Importantly: The way you spell it with or without an "e" is based on the origin of the liquor too, if it is produced in Scotland, Canada or Japan it is Whisky.  But if it is produced in America or Ireland  it's a Whiskey. American Whiskey is Whiskey mostly due to the large Irish immigrant population who were setting up stills all over the USA.

Fourthly: over and above the origin, Whisky/Whiskey classification is also based on the grain, the distillation and ageing process too.

If the liquor is made of fermented rye mash or from fermented corn, the liquor is a Whiskey. When it is made of grains like barley, malted or not, it is Whisky.

A Scotch is a Whisky

Although we cannot crown any whisky as Scotch, we can surely call a Scotch a Whisky.

To be a Scotch it has to be produced from malted fermented barley, which has been heated over a peat fire and  most importantly, when we call a whisky a Scotch, along with all the other factors guiding the spelling of Whisky, it has to be entirely manufactured and bottled in Scotland.

Bourbon Whiskey

A Bourbon is a Whiskey.

It is a unique whiskey, first manufactured in Kentucky, USA.

To call a whiskey as bourbon, it has to be produced from mashed corn, this process uses a portion of fermentation using yeast and a portion of pre-fermented corn mash . Essentially, a Bourbon is an entirely USA produced and bottled Whiskey.

So what's the verdict is it Whiskey in the jar or Whisky in the Jar?

Going by the origin of this Celtic Folk. it's Irish origin will tell us that it's obviously Whiskey in the jar.

Let's enjoy this folk music at it's original best in the YouTube video posted above, and here goes the lyrics, for those like me,  who find Irish impossible to comprehend.

Whiskey in the Jar

- The Dubliners

As I was a goin' over the far famed Kerry mountains
I met with captain Farrell and his money he was counting
I first produced my pistol and I then produced my rapier
Saying "Stand and deliver" for he were a bold deceiver

Mush-a ring dumb-a do dumb-a da
Wack fall the daddy-o, wack fall the daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar

I counted out his money and it made a pretty penny
I put it in me pocket and I took it home to Jenny
She sighed and she swore that she never would deceive me
But the devil take the women for they never can be easy

Mush-a ring dumb-a do dumb-a da
Wack fall the daddy-o, wack fall the daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar

I went up to my chamber, all for to take a slumber
I dreamt of gold and jewels and for sure 't was no wonder
But Jenny blew me charges and she filled them up with water
Then sent for captain Farrell to be ready for the slaughter

Mush-a ring dumb-a do dumb-a da
Wack fall the daddy-o, wack fall the daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar

And 't was early in the morning, just before I rose to travel
Up comes a band of footmen and likewise captain Farrell
I first produced me pistol for she stole away me rapier
I couldn't shoot the water, so a prisoner I was taken

Mush-a ring dumb-a do dumb-a da
Wack fall the daddy-o, wack fall the daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar

There's some take delight in the carriages a rolling
and others take delight in the hurling and the bowling
but I take delight in the juice of the barley
and courting pretty fair maids in the morning bright and early

Mush-a ring dumb-a do dumb-a da
Wack fall the daddy-o, wack fall the daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar

And if anyone can aid me 't is my brother in the army
If I can find his station in Cork or in Killarney
And if he'll go with me, we'll go rovin' through Killkenney
And I'm sure he'll treat me better than my own a-sporting Jenny

Mush-a ring dumb-a do dumb-a da
Wack fall the daddy-o, wack fall the daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar


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Neel B and Mani, we are a team of two, originally from India and the United States. We are professional software engineers and passionate cocktail enthusiasts. We built this app because we saw a need for a more comprehensive and user-friendly way to find cocktails and bartending recipes. We hope you enjoy using our app as much as we enjoyed making it!

We decided to use our technology skills to help others who were in the same position as us and wanted to experiment with making cocktails at home but didn\u2019t know where to start. We have been working together for more than two years and has managed to collect an extensive library of recipes as well as tips and tricks for making the perfect cocktail.

Neel B is an Electronics and Telecommunications Engineer and martial arts and fitness enthusiast. He is an avid reader, compulsive doodler, and painter. His love for cocktails arises from the art in it and the history that traces the ups and downs of modern civilisation over centuries.

Mani is an ERP and SaaS developer and architect by day and a cocktail enthusiast in her leisure. She holds a Masters in Computer Application and Programming. In addition to writing stories on the history of cocktails and alcohol, she has a special interest in cocktails in literature. She believes that the perfect cocktail can make any moment special.

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