Surely you’ve seen Ty Ku on the shelf. The pale green liqueur in the obelisk of a bottle (some versions even light up when poured) stands out on any back bar. But… what is it?
Reportedly the end result of a student project at Columbia Business School, Ty Ku isn’t a Japanese spirit with an ancient pedigree. Rather, it dates back to, well, 2003 New York.
Ty Ku is at least produced in Japan, where it is made from sake and soju and infused with 20-some additives to create the finished product. The infusion menu is extreme, ranging from fruit (pomegranate, fuji apple, yuzu, honeydew, plum, Asian pear, and white cranberry, mangosteen, goji berry) to herbal flavors (various teas, ginseng, damiana, dragon’s eye). I’ve yet to see a complete list of what’s in it. Some even claim that Ty Ku is “healthy” — a curious claim for any spirit but, at just 40 proof, Ty Ku isn’t really that much more alcoholic than a glass of wine.
The flavor is indeed intriguing. Lightly sweet (elderflower syrup is the sweetener), it’s got strong citrus overtones, but nothing particularly identifiable as any of the above listed fruits. Apple, tart cranberry, perhaps the mangosteen are strongest here. And the tea comes across a bit more in the nose more than the body. All in all: Very good, and well balanced despite the flood of stuff in it.
Ty Ku goes down quite easy on the rocks — and it throws an interesting spin kick into cocktails that you might otherwise sweeten with sugar syrup or even St. Germain. I could actually go for a slightly bigger flavor than it packs, but overall Ty Ku is a winner.
A- / $28 / trytyku.com
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