Japanese whisky has a bit of a barrier to entry. Like scotch, many expressions are on the costly side. Unlike scotch, however, Japanese whisky doesn’t have the benefit of robust stock and variety (yet). Case in point: My favorite local liquor store recently got Hibiki Harmony, which costs $87.99. This leaves Suntory Whisky Toki as the de facto gateway into Japanese whisky in my neck of the woods. Fun fact if you’re not versed: Suntory is the parent company of Jim Beam.
Suntory Whisky Toki is a blend from Suntory’s three distilleries: Yamazaki, Hakushu and Chita. Details on the respective distilleries can be found here. Suntory describe Toki as “silky with a subtle sweet and spicy finish.” Let’s see what I get:
Nose: Light, fruity and malty. Mildly toasty oak mostly overshadowed by fruit and floral notes. Skinless green apple, melon, white grape and honey spring to mind. Floral touches like mint-basil and a vaguely vegetal or brine-like essence round out the experience.
Palate: If you dig Sake, this will likely be your jam. Light and fresh. Green apple, pear, lemongrass and raw nuts with hints of pineapple and toasted oak.
Finish: Short. A faint, barely lingering warmth. Malt and oak finally start creeping into their own, nearly matched by a leafy, green tea note and a whisper of honey.
If you haven’t guessed by now, “light” and “mild” are the very words that spring to mind when I’d describe Toki. Here’s what’s interesting: I typically use these words to describe a boring or disappointing dram. Yet Toki managed to remain interesting from start to finish. I actually killed my bottle a little quicker than most stuff in my collection because it was so different. This is honestly one of the less sweet spirits I’ve tried thus far, which might be why it’s surprisingly endearing. I also highly recommend trying this in a variety of cocktails—Toki makes for a mean Old Fashioned.
At $29.99, Suntory Whisky Toki deserves at least one go for the whisky curious. Despite being unspectacular when broken down from a critical standpoint, Toki remains unique enough to justify a purchase. I’m sure I’ll revisit it a couple times down the line; once to experiment with cocktails, and another to see how my thoughts on it might change.