At a recent tasting event I had decided to include a Japanese whisky in the random lineup. Several of my regular attendees were yet to sample a Japanese whisky so had asked if one could be included.
There are two issues when it comes to Japanese whisky. Firstly the price – Japanese whisky is massively expensive and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Secondly there’s a lack of regulation in the Japanese market which can see non-Japanese whiskies (and even other grain spirits) added to blends and still labeled as Japanese Whisky.
So my challenge was two-fold. To find a Japanese whisky at a fair price and one that is exactly what it says on the label.
Step forward Suntory Toki Blended Japanese Whisky.
A blend of three of Suntory’s Japanese distilleries, Hakushu, Yamazaki and Chita (which is a grain whisky). The components are the same as their other blended offering, Hibiki, but in differing proportions and at younger ages. As far as I can find out online and from speaking to several others it seems as if there are no other whiskies involved in the blend. Coupled with the fact that it is priced at around £35 (I purchased mine in Tesco for £25 I believe) it seems to tick both of my required boxes.
Toki Blended Japanese Whisky, OB, NAS, 43%abv (from my collection)
The nose is super light with soft vanilla, fresh flowers and green grapes. There are elements of honey, apricot skins, smashed green apple, powdered sugar, all with a nice zesty citrus undertone.
The palate is again on the soft side, but really fresh with vanilla, apricots, honey and grapefruit all rolled in together with an almost sweet white wine like note. The grain whisky provides a nice mouthfeel here and its only on the second or third sip do we start to notice the more youthful whiskies taking over a little, adding a touch of green wood and a little ginger here and there. No real criticism, just an observation, as it doesn’t really spoil or take over unduly.
The finish is a little short albeit very pleasant with the emergence of a little rhubarb jam, a little spiciness and further wafts of vanilla.
I was really, really impressed with this. There’s not a massive depth of flavour here but it’s light and refreshing with some really pleasant fruity notes. It is really well balanced, although theres more on the nose than in the palate, definitely a session dram. I’d wager this would make excellent an excellent Hiball which I suppose makes it an excellent summer dram.
This was tasted completely blind and drew many positive comments, with several voting it as dram of the night. It also opened up a few people to the idea of drinking a non-Scottish Scotch.
Currently available from The Whisky Exchange for £32.45
You can find more of my tasting notes in the Amateur Drammers Archives.
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