Toki Japanese Whisky Review

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know Japanese whisky is experiencing a major boom globally.  Age stated Japanese whiskies are becoming increasingly more difficult to find on store shelves.  In fact, the only age stated Japanese whisky I see on shelves regularly is Hakushu 12 year.  Yamazaki 12 year is becoming almost as rare to find as its older 18-year-old sibling.  For distilleries, older whisky stocks aren’t as plentiful as they once were.  As a response to that and Japanese whisky’s popularity, companies are releasing non age statement whiskies.  Suntory’s latest is Toki.

Toki is a blend of malt whiskies from the Yamazaki and Hakushu distilleries and grain whiskies from the Chita distillery.  The primary whiskies here are American oak cask matured whisky from Hakushu and “heavy-type” grain whisky from Chita.  Any malt whiskies used from Yamazaki represent a small percentage of the total blend.

Price wise, Toki is the cheapest whisky from Suntory available in the U.S.  It’s currently available for about $40.  Like many other whiskies from the brand, Toki is bottled at 43% abv.

The nose is fairly light and fruity, with honey, lightly-spiced apple, vanilla and herbal notes.  On entry, the whisky carries a toffee sweetness alongside hints of vanilla, ripe Granny Smith apples, and those green herbal notes found in Hakushu malts.  The mid-palate features nectarines and lightly-brewed green tea.  Some oak tannins begin to appear going into the long, sweet and spicy finish, which features black peppercorns and honeyed pears.

With Hibiki Harmony and now Toki, Suntory has shown that it can release quality non-age stated whiskies.  While not as complex as Hibiki Harmony, Toki still offers a very enjoyable, if delicate, tasting experience.  I prefer Toki neat, but I also like this one in a whisky highball (one part Toki to three parts sparkling water, served over ice with a lemon twist).  Recommended!  8/10

Thanks to Beam Suntory for the sample!  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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.


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.


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