Europe’s oldest distillery can be found in Czechia

The oldest distillery in Europe is celebrating success at home and around the world with its award-winning rye whiskey. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 11.11.2022 13:48:00 (updated on 13.11.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

This article was written in association with Palírna U Zeleného stromu. Read our sponsored content policy here.

Whiskey may not be the drink that’s brought the Czech Republic fame on a worldwide scale, but the popularity of Czech whiskey both at home and abroad is undoubtedly on the rise.

The recent worldwide success of Palírna U Zeleného stromu (The Green Tree Distillery) – it recently took home a top prize at one of the world’s most prestigious tasting competitions – confirms the trend.

History of the “Palírna U Zeleného stromu”

The Green Tree distillery was established on Jul. 4, 1518, and has stood witness to many historical events in Czechia over the centuries. In 2017, it returned to its original name Palírna U Zeleného stromu, and today continues the Prostějov tradition of producing spirits from the highest quality ingredients.

One of the most distinctive products in its portfolio is the original Old Hunter's Rye, the secret of which is known to only three people. It is made from high-quality rye grains and distilled in the cellars of the Prostějov, which boast a 504-year tradition.

The distillery has several types of Old Hunter’s Rye whiskey in its portfolio. One of them is the Old Hunter’s Rye Bourbon Cask Reserve, which matures for four years in oak casks previously used to mature bourbon, which gives it the taste and aroma of soft vanilla with notes of warm fruit, honey, blackberry, and pepper.

Investing in spirits

"In the Czech Republic, the whiskey market is growing overall, and sales of more premium and branded products are higher," said Boris Rajdl, marketing manager for Palírna U Zeleného stromu. "We have seen an increase of 80 percent in the Old Hunter’s Rye Reserve and Selection variants, but the Old Hunter’s Rye Bourbon Cask Reserve, which we launched on the market in 2021, is growing most progressively from the portfolio."

The brand’s limited-edition run of its Old Hunter’s Rye Single Barrel 12YO, sees the release of 504 whiskey bottles, hand-cranked in the Prostějov cellars. The value of the bottle is predicted to increase over time.

Creating Old Hunter’s Rye|The base of this whiskey consists of a high-quality rye distillate, pure spring water, and macerate from dried orchard fruits (plums, pears or apricots, and others according to a secret recipe)," said Master blender Roman Petruš Petruš. “The Old Hunter’s Bourbon Cask Reserve is matured for a total of four years, first three years in white oak barrels, until it's mixed with fruit macerate in the final years of maturation. The size of the barrels and the length of maturation allow for the perfect blending of the individual flavor components. The wood gives the drink an amber-gold color and an earthy aroma typical of Old Hunter’s Rye. The taste has a soft vanilla touch with fruity notes.” 

International acclaim

Aside from establishing a reputation for whiskey excellence in the Czech Republic, the brand has gained an impressive following abroad.

This year Palírna U Zeleného stromu won a gold medal for its premium Old Hunter’s Rye Bourbon Cask Reserve in the category of blend whisky at The Spirits Business World Whiskey Masters 2022 competition in London. The event saw 124 distilleries from all over the world compete with an expert jury selecting 44 winners in several categories, among them the premium Old Hunter’s Rye Bourbon Cask Reserve.

"Unlike many other distilleries, we entered only one candidate in the competition, although we have more Old Hunter’s Rye brand whiskeys in our portfolio. It is an even greater success that the Old Hunter’s Rye Bourbon Cask Reserve won a gold medal at its first international appearance," says Rajdl.

The export of its whiskey to the Indian market represents another international success for the company. While Indians aren’t major consumers of alcohol – only about 27 percent of men and 1.6 percent of women out of a population of 1.32 billion consume spirits – the average alcohol consumption on the world’s largest subcontinent increased by a third since 2017 and the year-on-year increase is estimated to be 5 percent. 

“India's spirits market is one of the fastest growing in the world, ranking 4th globally in terms of size, behind only China, the U.S., and Japan. Its value is USD 35 trillion," said Martina Ďásková, export manager at Palírna U Zeleného stromu.

500th anniversary

The limited edition released to celebrate the brand’s 500th anniversary was christened by Jiří Bartoška, ​​the president of the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, who is a noteworthy lover of good whiskey.

Palírna U Zeleného stromu master blender Roman Petruš describes the whiskey as having a sweet aroma with hints of tobacco and oak. “The taste is very delicate, harmonious, and tinted with notes of dried fruit, mainly plum and and a hint of fig, but thanks to the long maturation in barrels it also has a strong woodiness.

Hints of caramel, vanilla, and butter cookies can also be detected, Petruš said of the unique copper-colored edition.

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