Tenjaku and Toki (The Whisky Series)
Updated: May 5
I love having a beer when I have just finished working in the garden, when it's hot outside, when I'm barbequing or when I'm watching football on TV. It's cold, it's refreshing and it quenches the thirst (sounds like a commercial, I know and we haven't even reached the good part yet).
I enjoy having a nice full-bodied wine with a carefully prepared meal, or just whatever wine I have in the house while I'm watching my favourite TV series. You can choose from a large variety to suit most occasions even if your budget isn't the most generous.
There are so many types of alcoholic drinks to choose from you can get a bit lost sometimes. There's Sherry, Port, hundreds of types of Liqueurs, Absinthe, Rum, Vodka, Sake, Soju, they can be grain-based, fruit-based, fermented or distilled and the list goes on. So far, out of all the ones I've tried, Whisky has a special place in my glass.
I've tried quite a few single malts, grain, rye as well as blended malt (and about them I shall discuss more soon) and I know for a fact that the smokier a whisky is, the less likely I am to enjoy it. It's all up to personal preference, but I will stay as far away as possible from the Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Caol Ila and the like. A bit of peatiness can be pleasant, but too much of it spoils everything for me.
If the distillation of Whisky started in Scotland and Ireland in the 15th Century, Japanese Whisky started being produced only around 1870 and is quite similar in style to Scotch. I've been in love with whisky in general and Japan for many years, so by the powers combined, I had to try it for myself. Suntory and Nikka, two of the largest producing companies have grown in popularity over the past years so their products are more easily available which means, you've guessed it, try all the Whiskies (or as much as I can afford, it ain't a cheap passion to have)!
Nikka Whisky from the Barrel is probably one of the first Japanese Whiskies I've tried and with 51.4 ABV it's definitely on the strong side. It's a blend of single malt and grain whisky and it has, in my opinion, a lot of flavour (more than I expected but I would definitely recommend it). Oak, spice and toffee flavours seem to be in a good balance and there is a bit of fruitiness in the finish.
Toki is made by blending whiskies from three of Suntory's distilleries: Chita, Yamazaki and Hakushu, and with 43% alcohol content is way easier on the tastebuds than Nikka from the Barrel. With sweet and spicy notes and a soft vanilla finish, it's a very easy to sip full-bodied whisky. It's fresh, with a hint of ginger (at least that's what I think) and if you don't like it neat, as I do, it goes very well in a highball. You can find it for around £30 in the UK and I think it's worth every penny.
Tenjaku is my newest discovery. It's a blended whisky with 40% ABV and a pleasant oak spice and floral finish. The pear and dried fruit suggestions are sweetened by the American oak bourbon barrels where it's kept for three to five years. It goes well on the rocks if that's how you like your whisky, but I prefer it neat, without anything disturbing or influencing the delicate flavours.
Both Tenjaku and Toki are very easy to drink and with a long finish for Tenjaku and a slightly shorter one for Toki, offer sweet and slightly spicy flavours.
As a fun fact, the characters on the bottle can be translated to 'hibari' - meaning skylark (small bird known for its melodious song).
Throughout the years I've read quite a few mixed reviews for all of the abovementioned whiskies which is why I try to see/smell/taste them for myself and write down my own experience with them. I'm not an expert in any way, shape or form when it comes to these delicious drinks, but I do enjoy them and I like sharing what I've discovered.
Whisky is a drink I can have all year round, no matter the weather and of which I can't stop talking about if given the chance, so rest assured, The Whisky Series shall continue.
As much as I enjoy this delicious drink, if you are tempted as well by it, please drink responsibly and never, for the love of whatever is dearest to you, never ever drink and drive. It's just not worth it.
I hope life is treating you well. Take care