Two Stacks Apple Brandy Cask, Cherry Brandy Cask and Polaris 1.2
I'm back! I'm sure the whiskey world is just frothing with excitement at the prospect of more of my musings and low scores. It's been a busy few months on a personal level so yet again my dedication to anything whiskey related has waned. So in an effort to get a few more tasting notes out there I'll probably strip back the intro's even more and just get down to the brass tacks of providing my notes and overall thoughts with just a little information about the whiskies on trial, I mean review.
Today it's the lovely lads from Two Stacks who are in my gaze. Criminally it's been over three years since I've covered any of their offerings. You can read my thoughts on their very first releases here.
Suffice to say they have been much busier than I have with a veritable smorgasbord of expressions having been released since The First Cut & The Blenders Cut were released. Today we have three expressions to consider all courtesy of Dave Cummings from The Water of Life crew.
First up are The Blenders Cut Apple Brandy Cask and Cherry Brandy Cask. Both share the same base blend, it being 40% dark grain aged in virgin oak casks, 40% light grain aged in bourbon casks, 8% pot still aged in Oloroso Sherry Butts, 10% double malt aged in bourbon casks, and 2% peated malt also aged in bourbon casks. This base blend is then put into ex-brandy casks for a further period of maturation.
The brandy casks are made of French Oak and have held apple or cherry brandy spirit. The Apple Brandy release has had a full 12 months of extra maturation in the French Oak and the Cherry Brandy just six months extra maturation in the French Oak.
Both releases were bottled at a hefty 63% abv. The Apple Brandy cask had an outturn of just 282 bottles with a price of £66 on release. The Cherry Brandy cask was a Netherland's exclusive and cost £60 on release.
The third dram we'll consider is the Polaris 1.2. This is a 6 year old Single Pot Still that has been matured in ex-bourbon casks for 4 years and 11 months before a final 14 months in a single 220 litre French Oak cask from Ontario, Canada. This cask was previously used to age Cabernet Franc Ice Wine.The outturn was 300 bottles with an abv of 58.25%. I'm not sure what the release price was but one bottle recently sold for €145 at auction.
Two Stacks Apple Brandy Cask 63% abv
Nose: Boiled apple candy followed by virgin oak spiciness. Wrigley's juicy fruit gum and pineapple rings in syrup. Some cinnamon, toffee and even a little raisin poking around in the background plus cream soda. Water dampens the alcohol and brings some Turkish delight to proceedings along with a touch of furniture polish.
Palate: Plenty of apple upfront - Kipling bramley apple pies and sour apple refresher bars. Very viscous and mouthcoating. There is a prickle of alcohol heat at full strength followed by black pepper, fresh ginger, nutmeg and clove. Vanilla cream and cocoa are present too. Water brings out an almond nuttiness along with orange peel.
Finish: Those apple tarts linger along with a citrus tang and faint smoke.
Score: 6 out of 10
Two Stacks Cherry Brandy Cask 63% abv
Nose: More muted than the apple brandy cask. Not much cherry action though there is fruit in the form of ripe apricot and peach alongside a leafy earthiness. The virgin oak makes it's presence known - ginger, pepper, nutmeg and sandalwood. Light fennel notes too. Eventually a little cherry menthol arrives with a wisp of smoke. Water brings out an sharp alcohol note but heightens the cherry menthol along with toasted oak.
Palate: There is more cherry influence on the palate - those cherry chocolate liqueur candies you get at Christmas. There is another spice blast mid palate - pepper, clove, fresh ginger and toasted oak. This gives way to bitter cocoa and candied citrus peels. Water sweetens proceedings up with brown sugar and rose water.
Finish: A decent length but dominated by woody spice notes and cask char
Score: 5 out of 10
Two Stacks Polaris 1.2 58.25% abv
Nose: This is a sweet nose - there is an abundance of red fruit. Strawberry, raspberry, cherry and redcurrant. Vanilla sponge comes through with sherry trifle. Furniture polish and oak shavings. Nutmeg, marzipan and milk chocolate. Water brings out more vanilla cream with lime zest and cherry menthol.
Palate: The pot still spirit makes itself very apparent - it's a little spicy and quite green. Green apples and citrus zest. There is a green herbal character at play too. Caramel now with some chilli heat and cinnamon Danish pastries. The ice wine makes an appearance on sip 3 with strawberry laces and raspberry coulis. Water brings out more red fruit notes and digestive biscuit.
Finish: medium length with a little tobacco, cinnamon, cocoa and warming spices.
Score: 6 out of 10
Overall: A decent showing from Two Stacks without having anything truly memorable. All these drams benefitted from a little water, probably unsurprising considering the abv's on offer. If pushed I'd say my favourite was the Apple Brandy cask but all had enough going on that they would be worth revisiting. These would be perfectly acceptable midweek sippers when you possibly don't want to reach for the truly special stuff in your collection.