Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky Review

Producer: Suntory. Distilleries: Chita, Hakushu & Yamazaki. ABV: 43%. No age statement. Price: $40.

The Toki, a new offering (as of summer 2016) from Japanese whisky giant Suntory, has summer written all over it. It’s a low-priced bottling (by Japanese standards) that’s made primarily for mixing. Given the huge size of the blended whisky market relative to single malts–and the importance of the bartending community–I think that makes it a smart move on their part.

The Toki is a blend of grain whisky from Suntory’s Chita distillery with Hakushu and Yamazaki single malts, and it’s exclusive to the North American market. We don’t know the proportion of the components, but the fancy marketing patter suggests it’s at least half grain whisky:

Traditionally in Suntory blends, grain whiskies have played merely a supporting role, acting as a broth or dashi to accentuate key malts. But the unrivaled sophistication and wide range of grain whiskies produced at Suntory’s Chita distillery led [Master Blender] Shinji Fukuyo to rethink that role. He saw these whiskies, with their exquisite balance of complexity, subtlety and refinement, not as a scaffold for the heroic malt to ascend but as true heroes in their own right.

So much for managing expectations. So how’s the juice?

First impressions: it’s on the bright and honeyed side, though with more substance than I expected. Nose: honey-dipped apple, peach, and basil. A suggestion of that light Hakushu smoke. The palate has apple and apricot, and a fair amount of spice: white pepper and ginger. Very nice balance. Oak, vanilla, and spice on the finish.

Single malt lovers are split on this one, which is no surprise. I think it’s a fine summer sipper, and an excellent mixing option. Suntory, naturally, suggests their classic highball: a measure of Toki with ice, club soda on top, then a twist of citrus or a sprig of mint. A couple of those will make you wish summer lasted all year.

Kanpai, friends! -BO

6 thoughts on “Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky Review”

    1. Had a lovely highball with it two nights ago, but was sipping it last night and enjoyed it just as much. It doesn’t have the complexity of the single malts, of course, but it works nicely as a first dram of the night, the warming-up-your-palate one. Cheers, Peat!

  1. I brought a bottle of Toki to a party where everyone drank it neat and loved it. Very smooth, but not without some character. I like it a lot.

  2. I enjoyed this! My first Japanese Whisky, so I don’t have a comparison point, but I found it light but complex on both nose and palate. Lots of honey and fruit with a wisp of smoke on the finish. The highball recipe is excellent but I really like it neat as well. This could be the whisky to get your white wine sipping spouse to enjoy a whisky cocktail.

    1. Glad you liked it, Ben! If you’re going to continue exploring Japanese whiskies, I’d try the Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt next. I think it’s the best NAS Japanese whisky out there. Different profile than the Toki, much more robust, and very well done.

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