Hogshead or “hoggie”: origin of the word

Used most often in Scotland and Ireland, the 250 L barrels used to ripen whiskey are called hogsheads or “hoggies”. Behind this name well known to all, hide stories as diverse as varied trying to somehow give roots to the word hogshead.

Little known origins of a well-known word

Scots, German, English, Danish, Swedish, Gaelic, Dutch … all claim the paternity of the word hogshead.

According to Walter Skeat, the word would be of Germanic origin. It would come from the German word oxhooft which by distortion would have given hogshead in English.

For others, hogshead derives from the English word “hogges hede”. This popular word in the 15th century was used to designate a unit of measurement that equates to 63 gallons or exactly 238,481 liters.

Based on the age of the Dutch terms hukeshovet and hoekshoot, others have argued that these are the true origins of the word hogshead.

Finally for the Gaelic, hogshead comes from tocsaid. This word meaning barrel would be the most probable origin so much sought after.

Aside from the previous examples, several other anecdotes exist on the origin of the word hogshead. Although there are many theories about its origin, everyone agrees on the usefulness of this product and the ingenuity of its creators and this is what is most important.


Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.

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