Blended whiskeys sometimes get a bad rap, getting unfairly clumped in with old-school Canadian whiskeys like Seagram’s Seven and Canadian Club. Because blended whiskeys aren’t regulated like bourbons, distilleries are free to add colorants, flavorings and even neutral grain spirits to the base whiskey.
But in the hands of a creative blender, the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. Unless you’re buying a single barrel product, all other whiskeys are blends of different unique barrels, so each one contributes something to the final product.
Other blends can create entirely new categories of whiskey. A fine example of this is Tiger Thiccc Blended Whiskey, a novel blend of American bourbon and Japanese whiskey. This product is a collaboration between two distilleries and comedian/podcaster Brendan Schaub, who I admit I had never heard of before discovering this whiskey. Apparently he’s a frequent guest on Joe Rogan’s podcast, and Rogan heartily endorses the product, but I promise I won’t hold it against the spirit.
Tiger Thiccc claims to be the first-ever blend of bourbon and Japanese whiskey, and while I can’t confirm that, it is a blend that makes a lot of sense. Bourbon is naturally sweeter and spicier than Japanese whiskey, thanks to the use of corn and rye as primary grains in the mash bill. In Japan, they lean toward the Scottish traditions of malted and/or peated barley as a primary grain to create a drier, smokier spirit.
The two countries also differ in how they age their whiskeys. Bourbons must be aged in new charred-oak barrels, which contribute vanilla and caramel to the end product as it leeches esters from the barrel over years of aging. In Japan, many distillers use a native tree, the mizunara, to make their barrels. The wood from this variety of oak tree has a different chemistry from American white oaks, and trained palates can pick up notes of sandalwood and cinnamon contributed by mizunara barrels.
Tiger Thiccc is a blend of 80 percent Indiana-distilled bourbon and 20 percent Japanese whiskey. The bourbon has a mash bill of 75 percent corn, 21 percent rye and 4 percent malted barley, the calling card of mega-distillery MGP’s primary recipe. The Japanese whiskey is made using 45 percent malted barley with the rest of the mash bill simply listed as “grain.”
I was surprised how distinct the characteristics of each spirit were in the final spirit. This is an Everlasting Gobstopper of a whiskey, with the flavor changing from the front of the tongue to the back, changing from sip to sip and changing over the course of time as the whiskey opens up in the glass.
America opens the show with the initial dominant sweet Nilla Wafer character on the nose and first taste. Over time, the Japanese characteristics and other grains reveal themselves as the corn recedes. The pleasant bready malt dominates the finish of each sip and becomes even more apparent as the whiskey opens up. It’s 96 proof, so you can definitely sip it straight, but I found that it benefited from a single ice cube or a few drops of water to temper the heat.
Tiger Thiccc is a premium whiskey with a retail price around $80-90, and it’s pretty rare to find in local liquor stores. But it is available, and Tennessee is a top-five market for the brand. So if you see a bottle somewhere, it would definitely be worth checking out.