Uisce beatha

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Uisce beatha (Irish pronunciation: [ˈɪʃkʲə ˈbʲahə]), is the name for whiskey in Irish. From Old Irish uisce "water", and bethu "life".[1] The equivalent in Scottish Gaelic is rendered uisge beatha.[2] The word "whiskey" (as spelt in Ireland and America) or "whisky" (the typical spelling in Scotland and the rest of the world) itself is simply an anglicised version of this phrase,[3] stemming from a mispronunciation of the word uisce in Ireland or uisge in Scotland. According to the Whiskey Museum in Dublin, Ireland, the different spelling began as a marketing decision (for increased pricing) - other companies followed the trend, the extra e was regardless a late addition as ‘The Truths About Whisky’ published in 1879 by the big four biggest Dublin distillers omits it.[4] This development may in turn have influenced the Modern Irish word fuisce ("whiskey"). The phrase uisce beatha, literally "water of life", was the name given by Irish monks of the early Middle Ages to distilled alcohol. It is simply a translation of the Latin aqua vitae.[5]


  1. ^ "whiskey". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2020-02-25.
  2. ^ "whisky [ˈwɪskɪ]". www.thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  3. ^ "Uisge beatha". www.whiskymag.com. Retrieved 2012-11-17.
  4. ^ McDiarmid, Archie (2019-02-27). "Why is it spelled 'whisky' in Scotland but 'whiskey' in Ireland?". Scotsman Food and Drink. Retrieved 2019-08-09.
  5. ^ "UISGE! Home of Whisky". uisge.com/. Retrieved 2012-11-17.