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Monday, October 24, 2022

Hammer Head 30 year old 1989 Czech Single Malt, cask 378


When I reviewed the 20yo nine years ago, I thought Hammer Head single malt was a once-in-a-lifetime little tchotchke. Then came a 23 year old, a 25 year old, two 28 year olds, and now a 30 year old that costs $500.

For those who haven't heard the tale, here's the recap: on the brink of the Velvet Revolution the Czechoslovakian communist government-run Prádlo distillery cranked out some batches of single malt spirit made from local barley. Once bottled, two decades later, the whisky was named after the Hammer Head mill that had ground up the barley back in 1989.

Clearly it wasn't just a couple casks. The first release alone had an outturn of 80,000 bottles. And now, 30 years on, there have been a few single casks. All but two of the releases have been at strengths between 40.7% and 43.7%abv, yet today's 30yo weighs in at 51.2%abv. It's not chillfiltered, but I see no claims about its coloration. I don't know what to expect here, but I'm happy to try 30 year old Czech whisky any day!

Distillery: Prádlo Distillery
Ownership: STOCK Plzeň-Božkov s.r.o.
Brand: Hammer Head
Region: Prádlo, Czech Republic
Age: 30 years old (1989-2020)
Maturation: Czech oak casks
Cask #: 378
Outturn: 300 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 51.2%
(from a bottle split)


At first there's a unique mix of hazelnuts, tobacco and steel on the nose. A little bit of ocean brine drifts through the background, golden raisins and orange liqueur fill the midground. The palate is intensely woody, or should I say woodsy. It's more forest-like than generic oak. The bitterness is almost Cynar-like, with heaps of black pepper and smoked paprika floating on top. It finishes a bit tougher, with bark, ash and dry soil

DILUTED to ~46%abv, or ¾ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

The nose has shifted a bit. It's more floral, and some grape juice shows up. Otherwise it's all barrel char and peanuts. Yeeeeeesh, the palate. It's all woody bitterness. The finish feels almost unsafe with its heavy acridity and bitterness.


The whisky's nose is very sniffable, when neat. The palate is a quirky curio, when neat. Its finish doesn't terrify, when neat. But it's nigh undrinkable when diluted. If this was one of their honey casks, then I sincerely hope there won't be a 35 year old Hammer Head. It was a cool brand, but this stuff is all oak juice. If casks remain, perhaps they can be blended with the current Prádlo malt for a fun hand-in-hand communism + capitalism vatting. I'm going to be kind with the score here, but I'd be okay with never again trying another pour of 1989 Hammer Head.

Availability - In the US of A, of all places
Pricing - $500(!)
Rating - 77 (when neat, 64 when diluted)

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