Hendrick’s Jungle

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My journey to the deepest darkest jungles of Sydney in search of the rarest of gins started with a gourd being delivered to our office by the esteemed house of Hendricks. When it was delivered I physically leapt on it. I was the fastest, the strongest, the bravest. “I deserve to go to the jungle”, I claimed. So they let me. “Just write the story after”, they said. “Don’t lose the gourd”, they said.

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On a balmy Sydney eve – like any other – my gourd and I ventured to the Palm House in the Botanical Gardens for a mysterious adventure with only 30 other living souls. Amidst an abundant indoor rainforest wooden tables stretched the length of the room and were covered with carnivorous creations. I used a stick to stab chicken hearts out of marrowbones and devoured fish cerviche out of carcasses. Whilst sipping from leaf cups we were regaled about the perilous quest into the Venezuelan jungle of Hendricks’s Master Distiller Leslie Gracie and Global Ambassador David Piper in search of an unknown botanical to create a special edition gin.

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They called it Kanaracuni after the jungle village they stayed in. They journeyed to the deepest part of the jungle where they discovered the rare unusual plant called “Scorpion Tail”. Using her tiny ten-litre alembic still, Lesley prepared 8.4 litres of Scorpion Tail concentrate, which she successfully smuggled in her suitcase back to the distillery. Hence the rarest batch of Hendricks Gin in all the land was born and only a lucky few of us have had the honour to try it.

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True to form they managed to find a real life Dr Livingstone type explorer to help guide them (impressive white twirly moustache included). There were tales of medicine men, of canoes and near escape. And perfect gin martinis in the jungle. I listened, enraptured whilst sipping my own perfect martini made by Cristiano Beretta of The Rook fame – imagining chiefs and rituals and drums. Not necessarily in that order.

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Throughout the evening curious activities took place; I put on a native headdress and bet on a bug, but lost. I conversed with clingy giant stick insects. I got heartily neck-hugged by an albino python. I faintly remember blow darts and human prey. I was losing my way, I had certainly lost my gourd by then, maybe it was the Scorpion Tail…

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Was it good? Yes of course it bloody well was. Anything with such a story and called Scorpion Tail was undoubtedly going to be wonderful wasn’t it? But what was brilliant was the way it took me on an evocative journey to the deepest darkest parts of the rainforest with just a delicious sip and a tale of true adventure.   I like these folks at Hendricks – how can you not? They like all the good things in life like gin and exploration and good old-fashioned yarns.

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I may have misplaced my gourd, but I’ll always have the memories of how I went bravely into the deepest darkest jungles of Sydney and lived to tell the tail, I mean tale.

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