10 Most Mispronounced Scotch Whiskies 21/07/2015 in Musings

As drinkers our path has been pretty evolutionary. Indian films are illustrative of this darwinism. The angry young man charted his way from a VAT69 towards a Red Label, to a Johnnie Walker Black Label and now perhaps the likes of Chivas Regal 18 Year Old’s.  As the choice of brands underwent a natural progression, lovers of fine whiskies started getting a bit discerning in their ritual of drinking, the pursuit of appreciation and who they wished to share this dram with. The selection of brands, irrespective of the price, kept on enhancing in favour of the prestige brands.

Despite all of these positive trends somewhere we were still stuck in the way we called out for our favourite brands. It was a matter of pride to sit back raise an index finger and look into the bartenders eyes, one Shee-vaaass on the rocks please.

You may have come a long way as a consumer with the penchant of knowledge, discernment of brands and the choices you make, one stutter and off goes your weight as a man with refinement !

To be honest, it can be quite a task at times, brand names often get inspired by town names, which in turn have Gaelic origins, most of us can easily clanger hence, given the peculiar phonetics of this celtic language.

With that in mind, I have drawn up a tally of 10 most mispronounced scotches and tried to give you the best way to deal with it too.


Pronounced as Shee-vus and not Shee-vaaas

Chivas Regal is a blended scotch whisky the heart of which lies at the Strathisla distillery at keith, Speyside region of Scotland. It’s from the house of Chivas Brothers, a company owned by the group Pernod Ricard. The journey of Chivas Brothers goes back to 1801 when they opened their first grocery store supplying provisions to the royal family & 1843 with the royal warrant to supply goods to Queen Victoria was granted. The big leap came when during 1850s they decided to blend whiskies under Chivas Brothers. Today the brand boasts of many super premium & prestige variants.


Pronounced as glen-FID-ik and not glen-FID-ich

A Speyside single malt scotch whisky Glenfiddich in Gaelic means ‘Valley of the Deer’, hence the symbol of a stag on all its packaging. The brand was founded by the passionate William Grant in Dufftown in the year 1886 and has ever since remained family owned for five generations ahead. Today its one of the worlds best-selling single malt whiskies and also the most awarded at the International Spirits Challenge


Pronounced as la-FROY-g and not laugh-roig

It is one of the most classic single malts. A trip to the Islay region is incomplete without a swig from this dram. Laphroaig is Gaelic for ‘the beautiful hollow by the broad bay’. A nice sunny winter afternoon, with this rather peated medicinal malt in your company, the Gaelic term starts making sense. It was a malt much preferred by the Prince of Wales, who accorded it his Royal Warrant in 1994. Its bottled at Laphroaig 10 Year Old, Laphroaig 18 Year Old, Laphroaig 25 Year Old & a Laphroaig Quarter Cask version. There are as well many specular special additions to the malt.


Pronounced as OH-bun and not ‘O-Baan’

Oban means ‘Little Bay of caves’ in gaelic. It is a Highland single malt scotch whisky and a harbour town as well. It’s a well known fact that the town came into being post the existence of the distillery. The flagship brand is the Oban 14YO. In extension to this there are a few special Editions to this malt as well.


Pronounced as aber-low-er (rhymes with power) and not aber-lore

This is a distillery located in the heart of the Aberlour village, where Lour Burn meets River Spey. Aberlour in Gaelic means ‘mouth of the chattering burn’. The distillery was founded by the philanthropist James Fleming, whose signature appears on each bottle today. Its Aberlour 10 Year Old has been one of the most awarded malt. Its now available in Aberlour 12 Year Old, Aberlour 16 Year Old, Aberlour 18 Year Old and a very popular Aberlour a’bunadh, in addition to the special bottlings.


Pronounced as THE glen-LIVE-it and not glen-LIVE-ay

Its not out of nothing that the brand decided to prefix “THE” before the word “Glenlivet”. The distillery was established as the first legal distillery after the “Act of Excise” of 1823 by George Smith, the founder of The Glenlivet, who re-established this Glenlivet as “The” original Glenlivet of the region, hence the name. It is for that reason that the makers of this brand are hardliners on the usage of the word ‘THE’ .



Pronounced as kowl-eel-ah and not Cao-Lie-la

Once you are able to say the word it does remind you of the ‘sound of Islay’, well thats really the Gaelic translation of Caol Ila. A man called Hector Henderson founded the distillery in 1846 on the Isle of Islay. It is a peated malt available in the variants of Caol Ila 10 Year old,  Caol Ila 12 Year old, Caol Ila 18 Year old, Caol Ila 25 Year old and certain special editions too.


Pronounced as strath-EYE-la and not stray-HIS-la

Twin pagodas, granite building, a water wheel, a stone pathway, the most picturesque and said to be the oldest distillery of the highlands. Most of the produce of this distillery goes into the making of Chivas Regal. The malt is available in 12 & 16YO versions. The distillery has been awarded a five star rating by visit Scotland and is situated on the banks of River Isla.


Pronounced as DO-E’rs and not Dee-WAArs

Dewar’s is a blended scotch whisky owned by Bacardi. The brand was created by John Dewar in 1846 and in 50 years went on to become the global market leader. It was the same year when they constructed the Aberfeldy distillery. The group also owns brands such as Dewar’s White Label. A top selling brand in the US. Today the brand has Dewar’s White Label, Dewar’s 12 Year Old, Dewar’s 18 Year Old & Dewar’s Signature.


Pronounced as brook-LADDIE and not brook-LAD-ich

If it was some years back this brand might not have made it to this list. However now with their major expansion plans, bold brand launches, they sure have caught a lot of eye balls especially in select segments. Originally built in 1887, the distillery resumed work in 2001 after some void in between. A lot of its original and traditional equipment has also been restored and is being used in its original form. Amongst the many other things to boast about like the most peated whisky ever, they also have a whisky academy to discover the secrets of whisky making!