Japanese Whisky

Meet Toki – Suntory’s Newest Blended Whisky

Photo credit: Suntory Whisky

Photo credit: Suntory Whisky

A new whisky release from Suntory?  Yes please!  Set for release later this month in the U.S., Suntory’s new blended whisky, Toki, utilizes malt whiskies from their Hakushu distillery and grain whiskies from their Chita distillery as the dominant whiskies.  Some Yamazaki malts are also included for a bit of added depth.  The suggested retail price is $39.99.

I’ll post my full tasting notes in a few days.  In the meantime, read the full press release below.

Deerfield, IL (June 8, 2016) – Japan is a land of contrasts and paradox: its culture holds a deep reverence for ancestry and heritage, but also a fascination with the future; and its people respect tradition, but they constantly reinvent and reinterpret the world around them. The House of Suntory, the founding house of Japanese Whisky, is proud to introduce a whisky that extends that thread forward: Suntory Whisky Toki™. Respectful of heritage, inspired by reinvention, Suntory Whisky Toki expresses both what is authentic and what is next.

 Suntory Whisky Toki, which launches exclusively in the U.S. this month and in Canada in July at a suggested retail price of $39.99, is a blend of carefully selected whiskies from the House of Suntory’s globally acclaimed Hakushu Distillery, Yamazaki Distillery and Chita Distillery. Traditionally crafted according to Suntory’s Art of Blending philosophy, the expression features the quintessential characteristics of a Suntory blend: exquisite balance, harmony and oneness.

A VIVID BLEND, TIMELESSLY MADE

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.

WITH A SIGNATURE BALANCE OF MALT AND GRAIN.

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.

EXTRAORDINARY VERSATILITY

The smoothness of Suntory Whisky Toki allows for exceptional versatility — the expression can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, as a highball or mixed as a cocktail. The Suntory Whisky Toki highball is recommended for those interested in experiencing how whisky is enjoyed in Japan today.

The highball is an artful blend of whisky and sparkling water over a generous serving of ice. In the 1950s, the highball was a favorite of whisky drinkers in Japan. The Japanese praised this simple, stylish cocktail as a refreshing way to drink whisky. They also loved how well it paired with Japanese cuisine. Since then, Suntory has played an important role in reestablishing the highball as a popular cocktail for a new generation of whisky drinkers.

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.

TASTING NOTES – Suntory Whisky Toki (43% Alc./Vol. 750ml)

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

 

The Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 Announced

 

Photo courtesy of Beam-Suntory.

Photo courtesy of Beam-Suntory.

Jim Murray’s 2014 World Whisky of the Year was The Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2013.  Sadly, that expression was not released in the United States, and lots of Yamazaki fans were left empty handed.   Chin up, folks.  The 2016 edition of the Yamazaki Sherry Cask comes to the U.S. market, among others.  Only about 5,000 bottles are being released worldwide.  I’m not being told how many of those bottles are making it here, but I can bet it won’t be a lot.  Read on for the full press release.

Deerfield, IL (January 12, 2016) – It may have come as a surprise that Suntory Whisky Yamazaki® Sherry Cask 2013 was named “World Whisky of the Year” in Jim Murray’s 2015 Whisky Bible. However, sherry cask whisky has been a constant staple of the Suntory Whisky portfolio since 1924, a year after the distillery began construction. Shinjiro Torii, the founding father of Japanese whisky first started making his whiskies by leveraging sherry casks imported from the wine of southern Spain needed to blend his famous Akadama Sweet Wine. Hence the sherry cask was the first cask used by Suntory Whisky and plays an important role in the origin of Japanese whisky.

The House of Suntory Whisky is proud to introduce Yamazaki® Sherry Cask 2016 (48% ABV), available as of February 1, 2016. 

The Sherry Cask – A Meticulous Selection

Over its 92-year history, Suntory Whisky has managed numerous sherry casks and sherry malts. Suntory’s Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo makes a point of visiting the Northern region of Spain himself. He does this to ensure that his selection of Spanish oak be sent to the “bodegas” (sherry wineries) to be made into the sherry casks used to store their Oloroso Sherry. Fukuyo carefully oversees this entire process, from the selection of the casks, to the charring and the aging of the sherry. After three years of aging, the sherry casks are sent back to Suntory’s Yamazaki distillery, ready to receive what becomes the distinguished Yamazaki Sherry Cask Whisky.

The Sherry Cask – The Challenge

Sherry casks are both revered and feared for their strong character, as they can easily overpower a whisky’s flavor. The Yamazaki malts can also be affected by this sherry/Spanish oak cask flavor. However, in the case of the Yamazaki Sherry Cask, Suntory’s Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo selects only those casks in which the delicate balance of chemistry between the Yamazaki malt and sherry cask can be achieved, thereby enhancing Yamazaki’s characteristically rich and multifaceted flavor. The meticulous selection process of the Spanish oak, the management of the sherry casks, and the overall aging process ensure the final award winning quality of this liquid.

The Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016:

A Fine Blend of Maturity and Delicateness

Chief Blender Shinji Fukuyo is often compared to an artist. His blends are deliberate designs meticulously chosen from more than 100 malt whiskies. Each taste is a color and aroma, specifically curated for the occasion. Fukuyo is clear that he did not blend the Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 for the novice. The Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 is created for the “Suntory Whisky Lover”—a lover of complex, refined and subtle tastes. Like the rest of the Yamazaki Cask Collection (Mizunara, Bourbon Barrel, and Puncheon), the sherry cask is a critical component that differentiates and characterizes the award winning Yamazaki Single Malt Whisky.

The Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 – The Journey

Fukuyo has designed a journey in this whisky. The Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 is undeniably where Spain meets Japan in the form of a whisky. To fully enjoy this journey, Fukuyo recommends the whisky first be served neat to showcase its nose. On its own, there is a clear and fresh top note. A raisin-like, deep sweetness that is both elegant and rich. You immediately taste the complexity of this liquid and the fine balance of maturity and delicateness. Served on the rocks, the flavor opens as you begin to taste the Delaware grape-like sweetness and its slightly bitter acidity. When cut with water, there is a soft sweetness that blossoms like the first apples of the harvest.

Tasting Notes

The Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 leverages the same lot of whiskies as was used for the Yamazaki Sherry cask 2013 for its base. These whiskies have matured for two more years. To this blend, Fukuoy adds various rare sherry cask single malt whiskies, some of which are more than 25 years old, creating a whisky that has a deep richness, mellowness and complexity of flavors.

Color:   Dark brown, a rich and decadent natural “Sherry” color

Nose:    Raisin, sun-dried tomato, clove, cocoa

Taste:    Deep, rich, sweet and sour, chocolate with hazelnuts

Finish:  Long, bittersweet, sour

 Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016, a single malt whisky, is presented at 48% alcohol by volume (96 proof) and will be available in market as of February 1, 2016. The suggested retail price is $300.00. Five thousand bottles of Yamazaki Sherry Cask 2016 have been produced globally.