Localised Keyword Spelling – Whiskey

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There is no such thing as "Irish Whisky", there is, in fact, only "Irish Whiskey" – to the purist! The Irish and American spelling of the liquid fermented from grain comes with an ‘e’, whereas all the other countries brewing the liquid, like Scotland and Canada, drop the ‘e’.

This may seem a little trivial or something that only comes up only in a pub quiz – but it has other knock on effects. Here are the keyword volumes for derivatives of both terms. The volumes are for February:

  Approx Search  Volume Worldwide Approx Search  Volume USA
Scotch Whiskey ** 49500 33100
Scotch Whisky  90500 40500
Irish Whisky ** 14800 9900
Irish Whiskey  110000 90500


The keywords marked with the ** don’t ‘officially’ exist to the purist or indeed the manufacturers in certain regions – but as you can see there are still huge search volumes for the term Scotch Whiskey.

Most of those searches, some 67%, come from the USA where the spelling of the amber liquid would be "whiskey". They are searching for a Scottish distilled beverage, but using their own familiar and localised spelling.

Likewise, on the home front, most of the searches for an "Irish Whisky" come from the UK and, again, using their localised spelling of the drink. Confused…. well I was?

So how does the spelling affect websites and search results. On a Google Search (dot Com) for both Irish Whiskey and Irish Whisky only one Irish Whiskey site seems to span and capitalise on both spellings www.jamesonwhiskey.com ranking number 3 for both terms. The word "Whiskey" indexed 113 times on their site and "Whisky" indexed 57 showing that they patently understand the nuances for search.

A web site that I think could really capitalise on the spelling/misspelling was www.celticwhiskeyshop.com where they are number six in a Google search for Irish Whiskey but don’t rank in the top 40 for the alternative. I realise that the volume difference is 16% of the correct spelling, but for a site that would be a Mecca for a whiskey/whisky drinker it’s such a pity they don’t try and optimise for the niche term.

The "Irish Whiskey" is probably blessed that its biggest market is the USA (by search volume) and they we share a familiar spelling.

But now consider the spelling from the Scottish side where they are 49,500 searches a month for the "misspelling" I think you would want to be focussing on the correct and incorrect. Search for "Scotch Whisky" and, as you would expect, there was a fine showing in the search results from the larger Scottish distilleries. But most of these disappeared when the ‘e’ added missing, in my opinion, a great opportunity to feature in US outbound search results, some 33,000 a month.

Of the top 20 sites that featured in the "Scotch Whisky" search, only nine survive a listing in the top twenty for "Scotch Whiskey".

To be clear and not to get embroiled in the rights and wrongs of the spelling which is academic at this point: A search for Scotch Whisky or Scotch Whiskey is an intention to find more information about a golden brown alcoholic product distilled from grain and brewed somewhere north of Hadrian’s Wall and nothing else.

But some of the websites don’t show up because they won’t optimise for a common spelling derivative as well as the local spelling.