Two Stacks is the brainchild of Ireland Craft Beverages, which started in 2014 as distributors and exporters of the then-nascent Irish craft beer scene. The massive impact of covid-19 encouraged the establishment of Two Stacks.

As a new operation, Two Stacks acts as blenders, with a keen eye as to what finishing in an unexpected cask can do to an already aged whiskey. Its range divides neatly between a core collection of The First Cut, The Blender’s Cut and Smoke & Mirrors, plus a rotating array of limited releases to flaunt its more experimental side, such as an apricot brandy cask finish.

The Smoke & Mirrors whiskey shines a light on peat, which is under-represented in Irish whiskey. Here, Two Stacks has moved away from blending with pot still and grain, and instead gone entirely with single malts. Three parts is a peated, triple-distilled single malt aged in bourbon casks; one part double-distilled single malt aged in first-fill bourbon casks; and the last six parts are triple-distilled and finished in casks used to age imperial stout.

As Two Stacks eschews colouring (and chill-filtering), the whiskey is a lighter gold than a turn in a stout barrel might suggest. On the nose, there’s a good hit of peat and roast coffee, then a softer chocolate note. Adjusting to that, you'll pick up fruits: apple, pear, some tropical elements and a creamy sweetness. To drink, the smoke and roasty side are more delicate than expected and the creaminess allies with the chocolate, as the fruit tends toward baked and luscious. Vanilla, clove and cinnamon add interest. The finish is more smooth chocolate, coffee roastiness and dark, dried fruit – the smoke lingers on a while.

Highly enjoyable, this is a delightful Irish whiskey, with enough depth to marry to a peat side and have neither lose out.

While this is very much a whiskey that can sipped neat, it would also work well in a black manhattan cocktail.

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