Some pretty unusual single malt pass over my desk and down my throat. Solely in
the interest of research, naturally. They include single malt from all around the
world, but this is probably the strangest, with an unusual story to match.
This is Hammer Head, a single malt from the Czech Republic that you will see is a
1989 Vintage (it was all bottled in 2010). Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it’
neither had I. In fact, until this arrived, I didn’t even know they made single malt in
the Czech Republic; although, a little research turned up the wonderfully named
Gold Cock. Decided to give that one a miss.
Hammer Head turns out to be a curious, Soviet-era throwback. Just before the
Berlin Wall came down, the bosses in what was then Czechoslovakia decided that
whatever the capitalists could do they could do better, and set the distillers at
Pradlo, in the Plzen region, the task of making a single malt.
Plzen is, of course, home to some of the most famous beers in the world (in 1984, I
was thrown out of a brewery there with the late Michael Jackson), so it’s a
reasonable assumption that they knew what to do with malted barley, water and
yeast. They had some pot stills so single malt was duly made using Czech barley
and filled into Czech oak wood casks. The wood influences around 60% of final
flavor, so this is important.
But, as we all know, life changed totally with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Personnel
and ownership changed at the Pradlo distillery and the single malt was forgotten.
The barrels just lay there; no one seems to have given them a second glance.
Now that casks have been rediscovered and are here for us to try. But this is
probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to taste this, or to confuse the single malt
lover in your life, so you have to fly to get it- it’s easiest to find in the World of
Single malts airport shops.
It’s a dreadful name but the single malt can hold its head up high.