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1715, from Gaelic uisge beatha "whisky," literally "water of life," from Old Irish uisce "water" + bethu "life." The Gaelic is probably a loan-translation of Medieval Latin aqua vitae, which had been applied to intoxicating drinks since early 14c. (cf. French eau de vie "brandy"). Other early spellings in English include usquebea (1706) and iskie bae (1580s). Distinction between Scotch whisky and Irish and American whiskey is a 19c. innovation. Whisky sour is recorded from 1889.