Language matters. Language especially matters in the world of luxury and consumer goods, that Irish whiskey finds itself living in.
If any of you have had the mis/fortune of working with me professionally, you’ll be familiar with my golden rule, the word “cheap” and its comparative form of “cheaper” are the only adjectives that I will not allow in conversation about products I work on.
If you look in the dictionary, you’ll see that the adjective “Cheap” can have a number of meanings. Often the meaning changing through the context its used in, and usually it is uttered flippantly and comparatively to speak about something at lower prices than others “this is cheaper than that”.
It is the definition from Merriam-Webster Dictionary that sticks in my mind :
Across the island of Ireland, no Distillery, Bonder, or Brand believes that they are producing cheap products, nor any that are “of inferior quality or worth”, yet the phrase “cheap” arises in board rooms, client calls and visitor centres all across the country. “Is there a cheaper alternative to this label paper?“, “Our flagship whiskey is cheaper than the one in your hand“, “If you’re looking for a cheap activity, look no further than our tours and tastings”.
Honestly, we’d likely be upset if a passer by called our products cheap, so why do we so willingly do it ourselves? Language matters, and this is why I think the adjective “cheap” should be cleansed and removed from the lexicon of Irish whiskey companies. This is because a simple linguistic substitution completely changes the subconscious inference of our meaning. Instead of the above we could say: “Is there a more economic alternative to this label paper?”, “Our flagship whiskey is at a lower price point than the one in your hand” or “If you’re looking for inexpensive activities, look no further than our tours and tastings”.
A simple change makes for a complete change to the inferred meaning. I know we don’t think of what we’re saying when we drop the word “cheap” into conversation but, maybe it’s time to start thinking about it. Maybe it is time to remove the word from the Irish whiskey lexicon, and leave the cheap stuff to other industries?
Cheap food for thought.