The SOMM Journal

August / September 2016

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Page 86 of 148

{ real somm stories } 86 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2016 Suntory Whisky Toki (SRP $39.95) One of the great milestones in the history of distillation was the advent of blending spirits together to obtain some- thing that's more than the sum of its parts. Melding different whiskies into a unified, cohesive spirit is such a rarified skill that only a handful of individuals can lay claim to the title of Master Blender. When done with skill and intuition, the various elements meld together into something genuinely sensational—a spirit made better for every strand in its blend. It's hard to imagine a better example than Suntory Whisky Toki. The brainchild of Suntory's latest double gold contender is Master Blender Shinji Fukuyo, only the fourth in its pres - tigious history. Toki is a sophisticated blend of American white oak single malts distilled and aged at the famed Hakushu Distillery and the heavy-type grain whiskies created at the Chita Distillery. While respectful of Suntory tradition, the new blend is a stylistic departure in that it quite effectively challenges longtime notions of the relationship between the two types of whiskies. Suntory Whisky Toki is a global success in the making. It has a pale gold appearance, a satiny textured, medium-weight body and a tanta - lizing floral and fruit bouquet. The rich aromatics are well worth the purchase price. It glides by the pal - ate filling the mouth with the flavors of peppermint, fresh basil, cinnamon and citrus zest. The finish is exceptionally long and flavorful. "The House of Suntory is launching Suntory Whisky Toki to ensure that a wider audience will have access to a high- quality, versatile Japanese whisky," notes Suntory Whisky Brand Ambassador Johnnie Mundell. "As the leader of the Japanese whisky category, the House of Suntory Whisky is on a mission to keep challenging and exciting the Japanese whisky market with innovative new products and styles to enjoy Japanese whisky." Kikori Japanese Whiskey (SRP $50) Sometimes a break in tradition is a good thing. Such is the case with Kikori Japanese Whiskey. This innovative spirit is distilled entirely from high-grade rice grown in the rich, volcanic soil of Kumamoto, located on Japan's southernmost island of Kyushu. No doubt whiskey aficionados will find Kikori to be a rare and unexpected pleasure. The rice-based whiskey is a skillful blend of whiskeys of different ages and wood finishes. Kumamoto rice is steamed prior to being fermented and passed through the distillery's stainless steel vacuum still. Afterwards it's transferred to American white oak, French Limousin oak and Sherry casks for up to ten years. Kikori is bottled at 41% alcohol (82 proof). Aside from the addition of the e in whiskey (like Scotland and Canada, Japan usually eschews the e), the new whiskey also breaks from convention in that it doesn't taste like Scotch; rather it has a unique personality that defies typecasting. Kikori has a perfectly clear, pale gold appearance, a satiny, light - weight body and a delicate and persistent bouquet of caramel, tropical fruit, spice and vanilla with prominent Sherry notes. It's a delicate yet long-lasting set of aromas. The whiskey raises no esophageal burn as it presents the flavors of melon, cinnamon, toffee, anise and toasted oak. Its lingering finish is saturated with fruit and baking spice. "We have been thrilled at the response to Kikori. I cer - tainly didn't expect to have this kind of reception," says Ann Soh Woods, founder and President of Kikori Whiskey. "I can only speculate that consumers initially gravitate to our whis- key because it is something new and unique. Most people have never tasted a rice whiskey, so they're naturally curious. However, once consumers taste it, they've commented that Kikori is crisp, flavorful and delicious. Although best appreciated sipped neat, its light, dry character makes the whisky highly mixable. A splash of spring water elicits more of Kikori's enticing bouquet to come forth. The whiskey also enjoys numerous cocktail applications. For example, the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas promotes a specialty Old Fashioned made with Kikori, pear green tea and apple juice, while Toca Madera in West Hollywood, CA, features the whis - key couched in a Margarita. Adds Woods, "One of the comments we hear most often from consumers trying Kikori for the first time is that it is that the whiskey is exceptionally easy to drink, perhaps a little too easy when they notice half a bottle gone!"

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