We’ve reached double digits in the Advent timeline, and if you’re lucky enough to have one of Drinks by the Dram’s Japanese Whisky Advent Calendars then today you’ll be tucking into a delicate dram of Japanese whisky, Suntory Toki.
The Suntory story
But first, let’s revisit the story of Suntory, because it’s really rather good. It was founded in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii, who originally owned a spirits store in Osaka, but dreamed of opening the first whisky distillery in Japan. Enamoured with Scotch whisky he chose the region of Yamazaki for his distillery to call home, employing the help of Masataka Taketsuru, who later founded Nikka. The first Yamazaki whisky was shunned by Japanese drinkers as it was too close to smoky Scottish whiskies. Torii learned from this, and future releases were more delicate and well-received (whereas Taketsuru took a different path, staying true to what he had learned over in Scotland).
Suntory cultivated the growth of Japan’s whisky culture by opening Torys bars throughout the country, which is where Highballs were served. Chita Distillery was opened in 1972 on the shores of Chita Peninsula, focusing on grain whisky, and in 1972 Hakushu Distillery was built at the foot of Japan’s Southern Alps to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Japanese whisky-making (and to diversify the Suntory portfolio, of course). The revered Yamazaki, Hibiki, and Hakushu whisky brands were developed in the years that followed.
A comparatively recent addition, Suntory Toki was first released in 2016. It’s a blend of whisky from all three of its distilleries, though the two main components are Hakushu single malt and Chita grain whisky. It brings together fruity, fresh flavours with subtle wisps of smoke, making it perfect for aromatic Highballs – good thing then that we have a recipe below!
Tasting note for Suntory Toki
Nose: Hints of spicy oak on the nose, with guava, a little desiccated coconut and dried banana. Buttery.
Palate: Spiced, creamy palate entry, with sweet vanilla notes and caramel alongside oaky spices.
Finish: Caramel and toasted oak.
How to make a Green Tea Highball
50ml Suntory Toki Japanese whisky
50ml brewed green tea (cooled)
Add the whisky and tea to an ice-filled highball glass and stir to combine. Top with the club soda and either a sprig of fresh mint or cucumber ribbon to garnish.
We’ll be back tomorrow with another Advent dram. Cheers!