That's the one!
October 4, 2012 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Why are scotch whiskeys so often preceded by "the"? But vodka or ouzo (or whatever) is not.

The Macallan, The Glenlivet, The Famous Grouse.

The google has not been able to help, but searching for stuff about "the" is hard.
posted by sio42 to Grab Bag (4 answers total)
It looks like it's the result of a trademark lawsuit filed by Glenlivet after they failed to properly file their initial trademark application, thus allowing multitudinous lesser distilleries to sell whisky under the name Glenlivet and diluting the brand. They managed to regain ownership by successfully registering "THE Glenlivet". (admittedly murky source here.) Other distilleries seemed to follow suit, maybe for legal reasons, maybe just to grab on to the cachet of it.

I don't actually know anything about this, btw. This is the result of a google search for {scotch whiskey "definite article"}. Feel free to duplicate my efforts!
posted by KathrynT at 5:29 PM on October 4, 2012 [3 favorites]

I suspect it may be to do with The Glenlivet, which more or less kicked off the whole single malt craze. As I understand it, Glenlivet was simply a place name and there was nothing to stop other local producers also calling their whiskies "Glenlivet" and trading off the good reputation of the first (registered) distillery there. Eventually John Gordon Smith (owner of the original distillery) went to court and won exclusive rights to the name, and I suspect that the "The" was connected with that trademark dispute -- either a legal requirement, or simply a marketing move to try to distinguish themselves from "generic" Glenlivet. This probably set a precedent for other brands seeking to emphasize their exclusivity.

(While there are various online sources for the history of the Glenlivet brand, it's purely my conjecture that this is the origin of the "The".)
posted by pont at 5:30 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

With regards to vodka, Russian does not have articles "the" or "a." So in terms of drink origination, it wouldn't make sense to call something The Stolichnaya. Though I guess it could be done and nothing is preventing anyone from doing it.
posted by zizzle at 6:09 PM on October 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

interesting. now i kind of want to read about booze history in general.
posted by sio42 at 6:48 AM on October 5, 2012

« Older Please help me organize my family reunion   |   Best way to commute...Palo Alto to San Francisco Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.