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Yet another Czech whisky...

by Gavin D Smith, 09/10

Whisky distilleries have been springing up in some unlikely places during the past few years; from Sweden to Switzerland and Tasmania to Thailand. But who knew that 21 years ago, the Communist old guard was distilling single malt in Czechoslovakia?

The whisky in question is called Hammer Head, and was made in 1989, just before the fall of the Berlin Wall, which changed Eastern Europe forever. It was produced in the Pradlo distillery (right) in western Czechoslovakia, which had been making pot-still spirits for many years before experimenting with making single malt whisky.     distillery

During the 1980s, the distillery was still a nationalised enterprise, and a decision was made to emulate the decadent capitalists of Scotland and create a high quality malt whisky. It is believed to be the only Bohemian single malt whisky in the world!

Hammer Head is available from Stock Spirits, who purchased the distillery without knowing that the whisky even existed. The company's Tony Roberts explains that "With great effort Pradlo distillery was able to acquire and install a traditional cast iron hammer mill. Built in 1928, the mill was the same style and make as those found in most traditional Scottish distilleries at the time.

"To create the whisky, the distillery selected only Czech barley and the crisp, clean water from the Bohemia region. The whisky was aged in unique oak casks made of 100 per cent Czech oak wood, producing a single malt whisky unique to the world.

"In late 1989 the Wall fell and the whisky was forgotten, left to sleep in the cellars in its unique casks for 20 years. Although the whisky was maintained, it was only recently that the true quality of the whisky was rediscovered."

the whisky

Hammer Head, Single Malt Whisky 1989 (Czech Republic)
Hammer Head offers an initially dry, roasted nut nose, with developing cream soda. Becoming more floral and perfumed with time, plus a note of furniture polish. More leather with the addition of water, and a hint of warm, rubber diving suits. Very drinkable, with well-integrated spices, dried fruits and worn leather. Ultimately liquorice and oak. Tobacco notes at the last, with the addition of water. At time of publication the whisky is available from World of Whiskies at Edinburgh, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports, and stocks will also be available through specialist retailers in due course. 40.7% ABV, 70cl, 34.99, Duty Free & Travel Retail, specialist whisky merchants.
  

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