The Spirit of the Un­usual

In con­ver­sa­tion with the Hen­drick’s Gin Brand Am­bas­sador to Canada, Alvin P. Ram­churn

DINE and Destinations - - STYLE NOTES -

TO THE NAKED EYE, the Hen­drick’s Gin orig­i­nal black bot­tle is a unique, Vic­to­rian-era, apothe­cary-in­spired dream, and its con­tents are just as pe­cu­liar and re­mark­able. The first taste ex­cites the palate with a bold bou­quet of cu­cum­ber, rose and es­o­teric rare botan­i­cals. This gin, dis­tilled in the tiny sea­side town of Gir­van in Scot­land, en­hanced by the sea air and soft low­land wa­ter, is im­me­di­ately em­braced by all who ex­pe­ri­ence it. So it is a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion that Hen­drick’s should ap­point an Am­bas­sador to present its won­drous qual­i­ties to us in won­drous ways.

Alvin Ram­churn didn’t know it at the time, but his en­tire life ex­pe­ri­ence was pre­par­ing him for the diplo­matic post of Hen­drick’s Gin Brand Am­bas­sador to Canada. “I left the UK in my late teens,” he says, “back­packed for a year in Aus­tralia and stayed for 10 years. I trav­eled around all of Asia, cook­ing in dif­fer­ent kitchens, (he is Red Seal cer­ti­fied) work­ing in restau­rants and con­nect­ing with like-minded peo­ple from all walks of life.” All the while, he was putting an edge on his dis­cern­ing palate and his en­gag­ing per­son­al­ity.

Tra­di­tional am­bas­sadors are schooled in so­cial pro­to­col: an in­vi­ta­tion for lunch would mean a re­served ta­ble in a fine res­tau­rant. Am­bas­sador Ram­churn, un­fet­tered by hum­drum pro­to­col, re­served an en­tire res­tau­rant, Pi­ano Pi­ano, as our ex­quis­ite pri­vate din­ing room for the af­ter­noon. He pre­sented me with a bou­quet of gor­geous red roses, re­flect­ing one of the top notes of Hen­drick’s and I would not have been sur­prised if he had pre­sented a bas­ket of cu­cum­bers, as well. An un­usual gin com­mands un­usual mea­sures.

What is the role of a Hen­drick’s Gin Brand Am­bas­sador, I ask? He replies, “I am one of 15 Hen­drick’s Am­bas­sadors, world­wide,” he ex­plains, “and it’s a very cre­ative role. My job is to share the magic and tell the story of where we came from, the grass­roots ver­sion of who we are, our philoso­phies and our in­spi­ra­tion. We tell the story of what the liq­uid re­ally is and share the magic be­hind the bot­tle.”

With whom does Ram­churn share this amaz­ing story: the divine, lov­ingly hand-crafted mar­riage of two dif­fer­ent small-batch spir­its from two dif­fer­ent stills, where botan­i­cals are bathed in vapour to be­gin the odd and very se­cret process of dis­till­ing Hen­drick’s. “I could be sit­ting in a gin bar sur­rounded by taxi­dermy and odd­i­ties one minute, and the next, shar­ing an ex­quis­ite Hen­drick’s & Tonic with a bar­tender shar­ing how star-struck I was when I met our Master Dis­tiller, Les­lie Gra­cie. It was a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence, talk­ing to the per­son who pushed the bound­aries, and whose pas­sion and skill cre­ated Hen­drick’s Gin. I learned a lot at Wil­liam Grant & Sons, in Gir­van, Scot­land,” he says, “about how we weave flavours so un­usual and com­plex and how it’s re­ally about a del­i­cate bal­ance of botan­i­cals, along­side the cu­cum­ber and rose in­fu­sions.”

Like most Am­bas­sadors, Ram­churn trav­els the coun­try, host­ing events for the trade, at­tend­ing in­dus­try events, but un­like most am­bas­sadors, he also works with men­tal­ists, ma­gi­cians, Vic­to­rian buffs, taxi­der­mists and cu­cum­ber botanists, all while rec­om­mend­ing and weav­ing in the magic of Hen­drick’s, wher­ever he may be. He shares with me the amaz­ing story of the Cor­gan, an instrument from the fer­tile imag­i­na­tion of Beth Anne Perry, Se­nior Brand Man­ager of Hen­drick’s Canada, where the ac­tual or­gan keys are made of 49 real, whole cu­cum­bers, which har­ness the en­ergy of touch, trans­lat­ing elec­tric cur­rents from the or­gan­ist’s fin­ger­tips through each in­di­vid­ual cu­cum­ber. The re­sult is a glo­ri­ous com­po­si­tion of notes ar­ranged into some of the world’s most un­usual melodies. The epit­ome of cu­cum­ber­ness. It leaves the lis­tener won­der-struck, and per­haps long­ing for a Hen­drick’s…per­haps a mar­tini, a Gin & Tonic, but al­ways gar­nished with a de­light­ful slice of cu­cum­ber.

How does the Hen­drick’s Am­bas­sador to Canada feel at the end of ev­ery day? “I am very blessed and lucky to be here. Ev­ery­thing that has to do with Hen­drick’s has an odd and un­usual story be­hind it, and we’ve def­i­nitely got the liq­uid in the bot­tle to be­come an elixir that is on ev­ery cock­tail bar.” Ram­churn loves his sto­ry­telling mis­sion, and adds, “I feel like this is the pot of gold at the end of my rain­bow.”

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