Whisk(e)y: The water of life

You’d be forgiven for thinking we never get any translation done with all our recent adventures, but we weren’t about to pass up an opportunity to check in with one of our major European clients as they were setting up their new Scottish depot just outside of Edinburgh. In fact, the setting provided the perfect excuse (or should we say “opportunity”?) for a whistle-stop tour of the capital in a round trip of just 24 hours.

After taking in the panoramic scenery from Edinburgh Castle, which truly is breathtaking, we joined our client for dinner followed by a Scotch whisky tasting experience. Now to say we are not whisky connoisseurs would definitely be an understatement, but we really got into the spirit of things and enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere for brainstorming over our next project. Never off-duty, Director Melanie Smith was particularly interested in finding out why the Scots spell it whisky and the Irish spell it whiskey (not that we expect it to appear in our translations any time soon, but you never know!). So, in case it ever comes up in a pub quiz, we learned that the difference simply stems from the translations of the word from its Scottish and Irish Gaelic origins, but woe betide anyone who gets it wrong…

Having written a dissertation on German Romanticism, Melanie’s interest was also piqued upon learning the alternative nickname for whisky of the water of life (or uisge beatha in Scottish Gaelic). For anyone who hasn’t made the connection, this also happens to be the English title of a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm – Das Wasser des Lebens – although last time we checked, this isn’t a story about an alcoholic! Nevertheless, it was a welcome, short read for the journey home. Why not give it a read yourself? You might even decide to come up with an alternative translation!