It was the height of the Cold War. In the Soviet Union the national drink was vodka. But in Communist-era Czechoslovakia, a few high ranking comrades had a taste for something different. They wanted whisky. Importing it from the West was impossible. But the resourceful comrades made a plan. A small distillery in Pradlo, know for pot stilled spirits, had a hammer mill. It dated from around 1928. It was noisy and crude, but it was the only one in the entire Czechoslovakia. The barley was 100% Czech and the water was from the Bohemia region.
The biggest problem was the peat. Peat from the Czech region did not work. So, at a huge cost, a train carriage full of Scottish Peat was imported. It was to last for at least 5 years.
Through trial and error, the comrades learned their trade. It took years. Reading about whisky and converting this into practice, did not proof to be easy. But they persisted. The end product was aged in 100% Czech oak casks. The comrades liked the end result very much and a bottle of whisky from Pradlo was a prized gift. But then in 1989, the Berlin Wall came down and Europe changed forever. The casks put down was forgotten and they lay dormant in the cellars of the old distillery for over 20 years.
Stock Spirits purchased the distillery without knowing that the whisky even existed. They discovered the casks and after tasting it, discovered the true quality of the whisky. It was bottled under the name Hammerhead in honour of the old Mill. We have the 20 yo 1989 Czech Single Malt release. There is also a 23 yo release.
Hammer Head has received several awards including three gold stars at both the 2014 and 2013 International Taste & Quality Institute (iTQi) awards. I saw a comment on a blog somewhere that the Hammerhead 23 yo was a favourite of Boris Yeltsin.
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Tasting notes for Hammer Head 1989 20 yo release
ABV: The Hammer Head ABV is 40,7%.
COLOUR: Light wheat colour. Quite light for a 20 yo release.
NOSE: Initially there is spice with hints of sweet vanilla and malty oak on the nose. Hints of fresh cut flowers fresh fruit and some citrus in the background. After a while butterscotch notes appear. The addition of water seems to take away some of the spiciness, but accentuates wheat and white oak on the nose.
PALATE: Very spicy with lots of winter spice notes including cloves and nutmeg. A fair bit of citrus fruit floats about intertwined with toasted nuts. A few seconds later, vanilla and butterscotch comes through. Without water it’s quite a rich whisky. The addition of water cuts through a lot of the spice and adds smoothness and makes it even more easy drinking. Water brings a roundness to the palate. The Hammer Head is chewy and smooth.
FINISH: Oak and pepper and is medium length.
The Hammer Head 1989 receives a RATING: EXCELLENT. A great addition to our collection. Now to get our hands on the 23 yo to compare!
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