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