After a long day, there may be nothing nicer than sitting down to a glass of whiskey — unless, perhaps, you sit down to a glass of whisky.
Although the difference between the two beverages may just seem like a matter of personal preference, whisky and whiskey are actually two different things. The spelling of the word in question depends on the country wherein it was distilled. And, as each country sets their own rules and regulations about the liquor’s distillation, whiskey and whisky are actually made differently.
Countries that produce whiskey include the United States and Ireland, while Canada, Scotland and Japan all produce whisky, according to The Kitchn. The difference in the spelling dates back to different translations into Scottish and Gaelic.
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In terms of technicalities, here’s how it all breaks down: Whisk(e)y is basically liquor distilled from fermented grain mash. Irish whiskies are generally distilled three times, while those from Scotland are only distilled twice. An Irish whiskey has to age for three years while a Scottish whisky can get away with only two years. This leads some experienced tasters to say that whiskey is smoother while whisky is stronger.
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Americans don’t have the same distillation rules as the Irish, although we have the same spelling thanks to a flood of Irish immigrants in the 1700s. American whiskey has its own rules and distillation processes — and once you throw in bourbon and rye whiskey things get even more complicated.
But, alas, if after a few glasses you forget the rules of whiskey versus whisky, just go with whatever spelling is written on the bottle.
This article originally appeared on Travelandleisure.com