Time is the rival that my efforts endeavor to overcome.
Of the tools against age and decay, tradition is among the most effective. I sometimes view new customs, untested by the destructive rhythm of passing centuries, as a threat to the traditions that have been passed to me from my family. While time marches forward along with a rapidly changing world, I wonder if my own children will one day prefer to adopt contemporary glittering novelties, leaving my own struggle to preserve our ancestors’ memories to fade with their weathered tombstones on distant continents. As novelty and innovation are tested and aged, like whisky, they evolve into tradition, transcending space and time.
I can imagine that, as the birthplace of whisky, Ireland had many distillers who felt their heritage was being threatened in 1929. During this period, on a far-off island much different from Ireland, Shinjiro Tori began bottling his own novel Japanese whisky. Suntory, an untested brand, distilled and aged in a nontraditional land with its own unique climate, oak barrels, and ingredients may have seemed taboo to Irish craftsmen during their epoch. Today, Suntory has proven itself by defending its own traditions against the onslaught of today’s rapidly shifting culture, not only in Japan, but the world over. Suntory Whisky continues to be passed to new generations.
Suntory Toki seeks subtlety and balance, which is immediately apparent from its soft palate and color. Toki, meaning time, harnesses multiple malts, barrels, and ingredients forging them into a distinct blended whisky, losing nothing compared to Suntory’s single malt products. It may be considered taboo even to contemplate mixing a cocktail with this luxurious spirit, but perhaps Shinjiro Tori would encourage it. After all, he took a chance with the taboos of his own era, which have now turned into their own traditions by the forge of time.
Here are my best taboo cocktails using Suntory:
The Citrus Taboo
- 1.5oz Suntory Whisky Toki
- 1/2 cup Ginger Beer
- 1 Orange Wheel
- 1 Lime Wheel
- 1 Lemon Wheel
- 1 tbsp Grenadine
- 1 tsp Bitters
- 1 Cherry
- 1 tbsp Simple syrup
- 1 cup Soda Water
Carve a wheel for each citrus. I like to cut the peel off, but that’s up to you. Place them in an empty glass from largest (orange) to smallest (lime). Introduce the Grenadine, then the bitters. Three turns from a bitters bottle are roughly a teaspoon. Add Simple Syrup, and drop a cherry in there.
Suntory Toki is light and subtle, so you can pour up to three shots of whisky without any other flavor being lost. It’s the best at letting everything else shine. Be careful with the ginger beer, though: it has quite a bite. Add just enough to compliment the overall ingredients, then finish it off with a pour of bubbly soda water or just water.
This cocktail has everything: tart, sweet, spice, and smoke. With the wheels in the drink, the flavor progresses towards sweet and tart the longer you drink. Eating the fruit afterward is a little bonus. The kick of the ginger compliments the subtle smoke of the whiskey perfectly.
A Zen Adirondack
- 1-2oz Suntory Toki
- Wood Chair
Pour Suntory Toki Whiskey into a clear glass. Ice or a splash of water is optional.
Stretch high in the air, then have a seat. Ponder the world and your place in it while there is still liquid in your glass. When the last drop is done, take a deep breath. Leave your troubles in that chair and return to the present.
The aroma, like its look, is light. A gentle gold pallor suggests youth; subtle smoke from foreign oak rises from the glass accompanied by summer flowers. It is a tribute to holy incense and ancient jasmine. The taste is soft and soothing, like a gentle touch in contrast to a more robust Irish whisky with bold oak and smoke overtones. A lingering sweetness is carried at the end. Caramel dances at the back of the tongue throughout. It finishes cool and subtle, tempting another sip.