Masons profile piece - Alex Girvan
Masons profile: Alex Girvan
Alex Girvan, Masons’ deeply charismatic London Brand Ambassador is an unmissable character in our staff team. We delve beneath the glorious moustache and into Alex’s fascinating background.
Alex’s colourful and varied background is so brimming with interesting titbits that it’s hard to know where to start. It’s easy to tell from his infectious enthusiasm that he has a story to tell. And that he does.
Born and raised in Nottingham, Alex set off to scratch the travelling itch and first ended up working on the beautiful Australian island of Tasmania. Here, he found his first bar job and fell in love with the trade. Starting at the bottom as a glass collector, the notion of meeting new and remarkable people each day excited him. Strangers became lifelong friends. People’s colourful histories became alluring tales unwinding into the early hours.
Captivated by the magic of travel, Alex left Tasmania and sought out new experiences in Australia and New Zealand, before flying back to the UK and dipping his toe in the water of London life. Mesmerized by the lifestyle and unique soul found only in London, he put down roots and worked his way up to General Manager of The King’s Arms in Chelsea.
After leaving London, Alex moved to New Zealand and opened a brand-new cocktail bar in the Ski town of Queenstown, Otago. Working with an independent company fitted perfectly with his underdog spirit and Alex enjoyed almost three years in the land of the kiwis.
So where did Alex’s love of gin come from?
When asked this question, Alex laughs. I can tell there’s a story here.
He recounts, “Even when my mates were drinking lager tops in our sneaky teen visits into the local pub, I was always a “Gin Guy”, much to the chagrin of the lads. It takes serious guts ordering a G&T in the 90s surrounded by skinhead punks in the only student bar in Nottingham. Gin has always been my “go to” even before I discovered its quintessentially British, quirky, outrageous and mysterious history. I love pulling the ultimate hipster card when I say, “I liked Gin before it was cool, I drank it when only your Nan did””.
So why Masons?
When Alex returned to the UK in summer 2017, he met Sunny, a former Events Manager for Masons at a food festival in Nottingham. He loved the gin she offered, but more importantly the Masons story stood out to him.
“Masons stands for no nonsense quality and that’s what I love. I’ve never had to “sell” the gin to a customer, just taste it and see. Masons is owned and operated by people who genuinely care about their craft and that passion shows in every bottle shipped.”
And his favourite thing about working for Masons?
Freedom. It’s an impossible feat to dull down Alex’s genuinely charismatic gusto. As a naturally born creative, Alex needs and deserves freedom to run with his ideas.
He says, “When I started with Masons, I was given carte blanche to tackle my region however I saw fit. This is unheard of, especially from the bigger boys out there. I was able to build a social media presence, write my gin events and indulge my flair for spectacle. I ran an immersive gin experience called “The Spirits of Gin Lane” using actors to guide you through the colourful history of gin, all whilst serving various Masons serves in unique ways. I’d choose that freedom over being told what to say, do, think and act every time.”
Masons is a Yorkshire-rooted business – how do Londoners respond to our brand?
“They love it! Even when I do my Ecky Thump style Yorkshireman impression. Yorkshire has so many connotations of home, quality, family, cuisine, and good living. Yorkshire has its own identity and something very close to everyone’s heart in some way or another. London is also a tourist hub for the entire world, British homemade products are always a priority.”
Field sales is a remote-working job. We asked Alex how he finds this unrelenting and sometimes intensely deflating job.
“Field sales can be brutal at times. You need a dogged determination and Mickey Rourke levels of thick skin navigating a world dominated by cheap n cheerful products (here’s lookin’ at you, pink gin). Working remotely takes motivation and a spirit of get up and go, human interaction with my fantastic colleagues is generally a phone call – this gives you a much-needed boost.”
Then Alex hits us with a sobering soundbite – “If you invest in people before a quick profit, you’ll never go wrong.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Almost finished, promise. We can see Alex eyeing up the Tea gin on the bar. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room – COVID. What are your thoughts on how this will affect the gin industry?
“COVID-19 has changed everything, especially the on-trade. I believe this event will greatly reduce the amount of smaller gin producers that are out there. Gin will always have pride of place in the British psyche, let’s hope a more traditional style is leading the way.”
On a more personal note, what does Alex drink at home?
“If I’m relaxing at home after a long day of drinking gin, I will settle down with a nice glass of New Zealand central Otago Pinot Noir. Ah, memories. Otherwise, Masons Tea, Lemon Tonic and fresh mint. That bad-boy has made me some lifelong friends.”
And finally, what’s Alex’s favourite gin of the moment?
“I’m going to be such a loser and say whilst Masons Tea is on the market, nothing else compares. It’s truly the jewel in our line-up. It’s uncanny how it can hit the right spot of contemporary and old-school London Dry instantly.
If you twisted my arm a few times around, I’ll have a Tanq 10.”