Originally Posted by cptjeff
The Irish were making whiskey before the scots were, I'm gonna say that theirs is the correct spelling, if there is one.
You're raised an interesting point. There is no doubt Bushmill's is the oldest legal distillery. There is no doubt the Irish claim distillation spread from Ireland to Scotland via the clergy (it was the purvey of the monks at one time and did not spread out of the monasteries until their decline). In this account, the Italians are credited with bringing distillation to Ireland, again via the clergy. So if we really want to follow that thread out...we have to credit the Italians for whisky.
However, there is also an established theory that the Vikings, who settled in Scotland before Ireland, brought distillation with them. We know some of the Vikings were mercenary guards for the Byzantine rulers in the 9th and 10th centuries. They participated in the Syrian wars and would have come in contact with the "water of life" one Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan. He is known as the "Father of Modern Chemistry" and was apparently distilling many things, one of them being barley. It would make sense if the Vikings came upon this they soon had their aqua vitae (water of life). As "whisky" is a more English form of Gaelic, usquebaugh, or water of life.
Either way, I prefer it spelled the Scottish/Canadian way.