whisky, whiskey

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whisky, whiskey A grain spirit distilled from barley, rye, maize, or other cereal which has first been malted and then fermented. Most brands of whisky are a blend of malt whisky with spirit distilled from grain. The distilled spirit is diluted to about 62% alcohol and matured in wooden casks; Irish and Scotch whisky, made from malted barley, are matured for at least three years. Single malt whisky is from a single distillery; pure malt is blended malt whisky blended from several distilleries. Bourbon, made from malted maize, is blended for at least one year. Sour mash bourbon is made from mash that has yeast left in it from a previous fermentation. Other American and Canadian whiskies are made from rye. Diluted after maturation and generally around 40% alcohol by volume, 220 kcal (920 kJ) per 100 mL.

Both spellings permitted but generally whisky is the Scotch variety and whiskey the Irish and American varieties. Name derived from the Gaelic uisge beatha, water of life. First recorded reference is an order from James IV of Scotland to give 8 bowls of malt to Friar John Cor to make whisky (1494).