There’s nothing more embarrassing for a whisky drinker than confidently ordering a glass of scotch, only to have the bartender correct your horribly bad pronunciation.
While some brands like Lagavulin, The Macallan and Balvenie are easy enough to sound out, other brand names look like letter salad to anyone unfamiliar with Gaelic. To keep the garbled drink orders to a minimum, here’s how to not butcher the names of nine popular scotch brands.
Allt A Bhainne (Olta-VAYne)
Though its name translates to “burn of milk” in Gaelic, it’s not clear exactly what that means or where it came from. Perhaps in a previous life the distillery was a dairy farm—or maybe the scotch is so smooth it feels like drinking milk.
This century-old distillery located in northeast Scotland gets its name from Knock Hill, which is located near the distillery.
This Lowland scotch’s name is rooted in the Gaelic phrase Achadh an t-Oisein
meaning "corner of the field.”
This Islay scotch’s name is Gaelic for “stony shore bank,” a literal reference to its seaside setting. A number of scotch names end with “ch,” and while that often translates to a “ck” sound, in the case of this island scotch, it’s not pronounced at all.
Bunnahabhain’s name comes from the Gaelic Bun na h-Abhainn
, which refers to the "bottom of the river" where it’s located.
There are a number of whiskies starting with the word “Glen,” but that doesn’t mean they’re all related or even come from the same region. The term means “valley” in Gaelic. Glen Garioch refers to the valley of Garioch, which can be seen from the distillery.
The next time you want to feel zen, pour a dram of this Highland whisky. Its name comes from Mòr na Sìth
, which according to the brand means “glen of tranquility.” Ohmm.
Some say the name of this scotch refers to both the river valley in central Scotland where it’s made, as well as the notion that there’s a link between the whisky and the Earl of Rothes, who owned a large swath of land in the same area.
From the Gaelic term Lag Bhròdhaig
, or the “hollow of broad bay,” Laphroaig follows in the Scotch trend of naming the brand after the distillery’s location.