The meteoric rise of Japanese whisky, particularly here in the United States, opens new possibilities for international spirits giants such as Beam Suntory to bring new bottlings into play to get you hooked on this category. With this in mind, meet Suntory Whisky Toki, a new blended Japanese expression being made exclusively for North American markets starting this month.
Suntory Whisky Toki, according to Beam Suntory, is a blend of non-age statement whiskies from Beam Suntory’s Hakushu Distillery, Yamazaki Distillery and Chita Distillery. The latter readers may already know the name of, as a namesake single grain whisky was recently announced as well.
As for this whisky, here is how Beam Suntory is spinning its development:
While Suntory Whisky Toki respects tradition, it also challenges whisky convention by rethinking the hierarchy of its components. Suntory blends often use Yamazaki malts as their key component. Inspired by the spirits of innovation, the House of Suntory’s fourth Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo took a fresh approach with Suntory Whisky Toki, selecting the singular Hakushu American white oak cask malt whisky — with its unique freshness, mellowness and spectacular green apple notes — as one of the blend’s two pillars. To complement that selection, Fukuyo chose Chita heavy-type grain whisky as the blend’s second pillar, adding a clean taste with notes of sweetness and vanilla.
By pairing these seemingly dissimilar but deeply accordant whiskies, Fukuyo’s insight overturned the old relationship between malt and grain and created a blend that is both groundbreaking and timeless.
Traditionally in Suntory blends, grain whiskies have played merely a supporting role, acting as a broth or dashi to accentuate key malts. But the unrivalled sophistication and wide range of grain whiskies produced at Suntory’s Chita distillery led 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.
This unique encounter between Hakushu malt and Chita grain whiskies gives Suntory Whisky Toki its silky taste and vivid character. To give the blend greater depth and complexity, Fukuyo carefully selected two Yamazaki malts. Yamazaki American white oak cask malt whisky harmonizes the Hakushu and Chita components, while bringing roundness and reinforcing the sweetness of Chita heavy-type grain whisky with peach and custard aromas. Finally, Yamazaki Spanish oak cask malt whisky adds woody and bittersweet notes to the blend. The result is a vivid, well-balanced and silky blend with a subtle sweet-and-spicy finish.
Interestingly, besides positioning this whisky as something which can be drunk neat or on the rocks, Toki has also been envisioned in a highball. A simple recipe provided by Beam Suntory says that “to make the Toki highball in the proper Japanese serving ceremony, fill a tall glass to the brim with ice. Add one measure of whisky. Stir to cool the whisky and glass. Again add ice to the brim. Pour three measures of chilled sparkling water along the side of the glass to avoid melting the ice or bursting the bubbles. Add a twist of lemon. Enjoy.”
Should you want to hunt down Suntory Whisky Toki, expect to pay around $40 for in the US and also Canada. Official tasting notes for it are below.
Color: clear gold
Nose: basil, green apple, honey
Palate: grapefruit, green grapes, peppermint, thyme
Finish: subtly sweet and spicy finish with a hint of vanilla oak, white pepper and ginger
Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and...