When visiting Scotland, “Scotch” is a word one should use carefully because it may offend someone. As written in our list of things you should never say to someone from Scotland, the locals here are known as Scots or Scottish but never Scotch which is a term largely reserved for food items.
Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable defines Scots, Scottish and Scotch as “belonging to, native of, or characteristic of Scotland” however their application differs, in some cases even legally.
For example, Scotch Whisky (or in Scottish Gaelic “Uisge Beatha” which means “water of life”) is a famous Scottish export which has been written into law via the Scotch Whisky Regulations of 2009.
Broadly speaking, it’s a safe bet to just use ‘Scottish’, but if we’re getting specific then here are ten times it’s okay to use “Scotch”.
1. Scotch Whisky
Unlike the spelling used in the United States with an “e”, the drink which is a national treasure to Scotland is spelt just “whisky” and is commonly referred to as “Scotch”. The Scotch Whisky Association dates the distilled beverage to as far back as 1494 and have suggested that distilling long predates that too as the production was already “well established”. Photo: allan_harris on Flickr
2. Scotch Pie
According to Mr Paul’s Pantry: “Traditional Scotch Pies were originally called ‘Mutton Pies’, but you can use use mutton, lamb or even beef (some butchers use a mixture) the filling should be well spiced, bit like a good pork pie, with that distinctive peppery kick.” In short, this double-crust meat pie is an unmissable delicacy of Scottish cuisine. Photo: bensutherland on Flickr
3. Scotch Corner
If you’re driving down the A1 or A66 near Richmond then at a junction there you can discover the Scotch Corner. It is called that because it’s a point of divergence for drivers coming from places like London and Yorkshire to then pivot towards Edinburgh or Glasgow etc. It has been called “the modern gateway to Cumbria, the North East and Scotland.” Photo: via Geograph
4. Scotch Beef
Did you know that Scotch Beef has its own legal status under European law? The widely treasured Scottish commodity has a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) mark on its packaging which is set to reassure consumers that it meets a certain quality. It must be from Scottish farms that meet a certain standard on their facilities and animal welfare. Photo: jamiedecesare on Flickr