Scotch Whisky Pronunciation Guide

by Ian Rose on December 5, 2009

by Ian Rose | December 5th, 2009  


True lovers of Scotch whisky don’t just drink it. They smell it, look at it, read about it, and most of all, talk about it. No matter how much you know your whisky, its history and its subtle flavor notes, there is no better way to take away all of your hard-earned whisky credibility than to mispronounce the name of your favorite brand. Since most of the names of these brands are based on the name of the local town, which are in turn based on Gaelic or Celtic words, it can be easy to get them wrong. With that in mind, we have put together a pronunciation guide for the most common and prestigious whisky brands. Remember that there are significant differences in accents between different Scottish regions, but we have tried to use the most specific local pronunciations where possible.

The Simple Ones First

These brands sound basically like they are written. The most common mistake with these is putting the accent on the wrong syllable.
Glenfiddich : Glen-FID-ick
Glenlivet : Glen-LIV-it
Lagavulin : LA-ga-voo-lin
Macallan : Mah-CAH-len
Talisker : TAL-isk-er

Advanced Whisky Pronunciation

These brands are a little trickier, mostly because of one Gaelic syllable or spelling that might be unfamiliar to non-Scottish readers.
Caol Ila : Cool-EYE-la
Edradour : ED-ra-dow-er
Glen Glassaugh : Glen-GLAH-suck (a bit more of a -ch sound at the end)
Glenmorangie : Glen-MORIN-jee (rhymes with “orangey”)
Laphroaig : La-FROYG
Oban : OH-b’n
Tullibardine : TULL-ee-BARD-in (For you fishers, this rhymes with “Dolly varden”)

Devilishly Difficult

These are the ones that can really get you in trouble, and are often mispronounced by first-time visitors.
Bruichladdich : Brook-LAD-ee
Bunnahabhain : Boon-a-HA-bin
Craigellachie : Craig-ELLICK-ee
Daluaine : Dahl-OON-yuh
Glen Garioch : Glen-GEER-ee

Related Terms

These aren’t brands, but these terms will often come up in a conversation about whisky.
Islay : EYE-la (An island famous for its whisky distilleries)
Slainte! : SLAN-cha (The Scottish word for “cheers”) (sounds like “Santa”)

>> To learn more, read our guide to Scotch whisky or find out more about Scottish place names and their meanings



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