Suntory Whisky Toki

With whisky lovers the world over clamoring to get their hands on just about anything Japanese, the relatively small number of producers are coming up with innovative ways to meet that demand while maintaining the level of quality that has distinguished the whiskeys since founding father Masataka Taketsuru returned from apprenticeships in Scotland in 1920 to become the first master distiller at the newly constructed Yamazaki Distillery. Nearly 100 years later, with demand for their single malts driving prices ever skyward, Yamazaki's parent company Suntory has released the Toki: an attractively priced blended whisky comprised of carefully selected malt and grain whiskies from Suntory's three distilleries, Hakushu, Yamazaki, and Chita. The Hakushu malt component aged in American oak is a departure from Suntory's customary practice of employing Yamazaki malt as the heart of their blends, and marries beautifully with the heavier grain whisky from Chita. Light golden color with sparkling clarity, the nose is all poached pears and fresh citrus peel, with background notes of vanilla, custard and ginger. The entry on the palate is surprisingly malty, with dried peaches and pears. And a hint of smoky leather. The finish is not long, but silky clean and completely satisfying. Finely balanced, a terrific value.