...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Single Malt Report: Hammer Head 20 year old 1989 Czech Single Malt


Not this:


Czech barley?  Check.  Czech water?  Check.  Czech oak?  Check.  Forged in communist Czechoslovakia?  Check.  Over 20 years old and only $60?  Check.  THIS IS AWESOME.  Seriously, this one rides alone in the whisky world.

There's a story that Churchill wowed Stalin with a bottle of scotch back in the late '30s.  Stalin wanted the Soviets to create something to match it.  Then, apparently, the Nazis became more of a priority for the nation.

Almost 50 years later, while Vaclav Havel was still a poet, Czechoslovakia's communist government distilled the Hammer Head spirit in Prádlo, Pilsen.  Twenty years later, in the midst of the iPhone Era, the world was given Hammer Head when the privatized Prádlo Distillery (owned by Stock Spirits Group - SSG) bottled the single malt just before it dropped below 40%.  The name is derived from the nickname of the old Czech mill that had ground up the malt barley.

They say the whisky sat in the casks forgotten for those 20 years.  Well, it's time to remember it...

...especially since it is not a bad drink.

Distillery: Prádlo Distillery
Ownership: Stock Spirits
Type: Single Malt
RegionPrádlo, Czech Republic
Age: 20 years old (1989-2010)
Maturation: Czech oak casks
Alcohol by Volume: 40.7%
Limited release: 80000 bottles

Sampled neatly from a 30mL whiskysamples bottle:
Color - Yellow gold
Nose - Smells much younger than 20 years, by that I mean there's lots of malt and very little oak.  Creamy tropical fruit zing, oranges, cardamom meets sage, and celery seed are the highlights.  But mostly it's a little dirty: dust, dirt, old coffee grounds, cigarette butts -- romanticized proletariat stuff.
Palate - Straightforward without much flourish:  wood embers, dusty vanilla, a little spicy buzz, and a soft thick barley blanket.
Finish - Mild and gets slightly sweeter. It has some dusty vanilla, black pepper, malt, and soil.

This singular whisky made my day.  Mostly it was just the anticipation.  But then it turned out to be a friendly dram.  True to its nature, it isn't a polished flawless bourgeois whisky.  Since the Czech oak had little effect on the malt, the whisky isn't prettied up.  I think one is mostly getting something close to the original spirit.

There are still some European stores that have Hammer Head in stock.  Many of them are selling it in the $55-$70 range.  Of course that's without shipping, and a lot of the stores won't ship to The States.  But with some effort you can swing the Hammer.  (I'm sorry, that's terrible.)

Availability - Happy Hunting!
Pricing - around $60 before international shipping
Rating - 82