Review: Suntory Whisky Toki

Review: Suntory Whisky Toki


Japan’s Suntory is well known for its single malts, but it also blends whisky from time to time. With Toki (“time” in Japanese), it’s trying something a little different. Specifically, Toki is a blend of a number of Suntory’s other whiskies, including spirits from Hakushu Distillery, Yamazaki Distillery, and Chita Distillery.

Some addition information from the distillery:

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.

Well, color me curious. Let’s give Toki a try. Here’s how it comes across.

Toki is surprisingly light in hue, reflecting what must be significant youth at its core. The nose is also quite light and spry, fragrant with mixed grains, a whiff of smoke, bouquets of fresh flowers, and notes of incense and jasmine. It’s all very clean, a gentle counterpoint to some of the world’s more intense single malts.

The palate is equally light and fresh, offering sweetened cereal notes, green apple, brown sugar, and a touch of spearmint. On the finish, it’s more of the same, though the sweeter notes tend to dominate along with touches of ginger and cinnamon.

There’s nothing fancy about Toki, but Suntory has put a lot of care into blending a very light and gentle spirit that surprises with its level of success. This lightness reminds me quite a bit of the recently-reviewed Kikori, again proving that intricate and complex flavors need not come from heavy-handed production methods.

86 proof.


Suntory Whisky Toki




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Jack Rosa on November 24, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    Very nice afternoon whisky. Less peat than Scotch and an excellent calue6at $45 per 750 miles.

  2. Gerald on July 14, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Good review—led me to buy some. Nice and light for summer sipping on own, with soda, or in a Boulevardier.

    Btw, the “toki” here is not “time”. That would be with the character ?. This character “toki” (?) means “season”

  3. Hyon Lee on October 20, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    I like to know why Suntory whisky uses
    at the bottle Symbol of last name YI?
    Is the owner last name YI?
    As I know YI is not only 2nd most common
    Last name in Korea
    But also last name of Yi Dynasty
    Who rule the Korea for 500 yrs, that’s why there are so many Yi
    Decendant from the Royal YI & their families& relatives from all those yrs!

    YI is the Korean last name
    And I’m one of them

  4. Anonymous on August 15, 2020 at 8:50 pm

    The family name YI (Or Lee) is actually a different character: ?
    Suntory Whisky Toki uses the character: ? and it means Season.

  5. Balmain on December 29, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    Absolutely smooth and flawless. You won’t be disappointed.

  6. Howard on May 31, 2021 at 7:42 pm

    Great whisky blending: a young American oak casked malt with a grain of character. Not enough Innovating and improving blends much beyond Compass Box and the Japanese although one expects some new competitors to successfully emerge. One is grateful for the traditional blends that are hanging on to quality, although not as good as in the 80s and earlier.

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