- Spirit: Japanese Whisky, blended
- Owned By: Beam-Suntory
- Distilled By: Hakushu Distillery, Yamazaki Distillery, and Chita Distillery
- Aged: 3+ years
- ABV: 43% ABV, 86 Proof
- Mashbill: Unknown, blend of malt and grain whisky
- Price: ~$30
I’ve drunken a lot of whiskey in my days, but Japanese whisky is really an untapped category for me. I mean, I’ve had my fair share of American whiskeys and bourbon, I’ve got a long ways to go when it comes to Irish and Scotch whisky, but I’ve only had a few sips of Japanese whisky in my life.
The Japanese learned the art of distilling from the Scots, so there are some similarities between the two. All Japanese whisky is aged a minimum of 3 years, and a lot of blending takes place between distilleries under the same parent company.
For example, Johnnie Walker is owned by Diageo, and they blend whisky from their 30 distilleries. Suntory Toki is a blend of whisky from Hakashu, Yamazaki, and Chita – all of which are owned by Beam Suntory.
On to my favorite part. Time to pour myself a glass and get to drinkin’!
Nose: Citrus from apples and some grain come off the nose first. Vanilla and caramel, roasted nuts, and a hint of chocolate. There’s a little bit of a green/vegetal note with the grain.
Palate: It’s light and easy. It’s more of a caramel and honey on the palate than the vanilla I was getting on the nose. There’s some green apple citrus, a touch of black pepper with what appears to be just a hint of cinnamon in there. Again, there’s a lot of grain here. I wouldn’t call the grain floral, but there’s some greenness to it.
Finish: The finish has slight pepper and dried oak with some honey undertones. There’s a tinge of alcohol, but it’s an easy sipper.
Taste Summary – Is Suntory Toki Good?
As I mentioned, this is nearly my first experience with Japanese whisky, so I don’t have any other Japanese whiskies to compare it to.
While the Japanese learned distilling from the Scots, this reminds me much more of an Irish whiskey. Perhaps it’s the lack of fruit notes from sherry cask finishes that Scotch so often uses. The grassy and grainy quality is more reminiscent of a standard Irish whiskey.
Suntory Toki is, for all I can tell, a very good starter/budget Japanese whisky.
First, the ~$30 price tag tells us that this isn’t the best Japan has to offer. It’s a blend of whisky that likely wasn’t good enough to go into their more expensive/premium brands.
Second, this drinks like a standard, run of the mill whisky – and I’m not saying this as a bad thing at all. It’s inoffensive, but still offers the flavors you’d expect to find in Japanese whisky. It’s good enough to drink, and enjoy, on its own, but it’s probably best in a cocktail.
Perhaps my opinion will change as I go deeper down the rabbit hole of whiskey hailing from Japan, but Suntory Toki seems to be the Jim Beam, Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Jameson of Japanese whisky. It’s cheap, it works well in a cocktail but works as a sipper, and it’s widely available.
Again, this is in no way a knock of Suntory Toki, it’s just calling it how it is. If you’re looking for some of the best Japanese whisky, you’ll have to stay tuned as I dive deeper into this category. It’s not surprising, though, that some of the most praised whisky is from Yamazaki and Hakushu – two whiskies that are in this blend.