Toki vs Tenjaku: The Best Affordable Japanese Whisky Under £50 [Review]

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The Best Affordable Japanese Whisky

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Discover the world of Japanese whisky without breaking the bank with two excellent options: Suntory Toki and Tenjaku. Both offer smooth, complex flavour profiles at an affordable price under £50, making them perfect for sipping neat or crafting delightful cocktails. In this review, we’ll explore the unique characteristics of each whisky, compare tasting notes, and share some enticing recipes to help you find your new favourite Japanese dram. If you’re new to Japanese whiskey, our Ultimate Guide to Japanese Whisky is a great place to learn about its fascinating history and production process, from the influence of Masataka Taketsuru and Shinjiro Torii to the use of Coffey stills and various cask finishes like bourbon barrels, sherry casks, and Japanese oak.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website or its affiliates. The information provided is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered professional advice.

Suntory Toki: A Harmonious Blend of Yamazaki, Hakushu, and Chita

The Best Affordable Japanese Whisky

The Best Affordable Japanese Whisky

Suntory, a renowned Japanese whisky producer, crafts Toki by blending whiskies from three of their esteemed distilleries:

  • Yamazaki: Japan’s first single malt whisky distillery, known for rich, bold flavours with hints of red fruit and spice aged in white oak. Read our Yamazaki 12 Year Old Single Malt Review to learn more about this iconic distillery.
  • Hakushu: Nestled in the Japanese Alps, this distillery delivers fresh, herbaceous notes from Hakushu malt and a subtle smoky undertone. Explore the Hakushu 12-Year-Old, 18-Year-Old, and 25-Year-Old expressions for a deeper understanding of this unique distillery.
  • Chita: A grain whisky distillery providing a clean, sweet character from Coffey grain stills, harmonising the blend together.

Master Blender Shinji Fukuyo carefully selects and balances these whiskies to create a light, fresh dram with captivating notes of green apple, grapefruit, honey, and peppermint. At 43% ABV (alcohol by volume), Toki is smooth and easy to drink, perfect for both sipping neat and mixing in cocktails like the iconic Toki Highball. For more insights, read our in-depth Toki Suntory Whisky Review.

However, some whisky lovers may find Toki’s lighter profile lacking in complexity compared to more robust, peated whiskies. Its popularity can also lead to limited availability in certain markets.

Please remember to drink responsibly. Enjoy whisky in moderation and never drink and drive.

Tenjaku: Pure Japanese Craftsmanship at a Low Price
Affordable Japanese Whisky

Affordable Japanese Whisky

Tenjaku is an expertly blended whisky distilled and aged entirely in Japan using malted barley and grain. Master Blender Kenji Watanabe selects the finest whiskies and pure spring water to craft a well-balanced spirit with enticing aromas of fresh orchard fruits, delicate floral notes, and hints of vanilla. On the palate, Tenjaku delivers a smooth, velvety texture with flavours of crisp green apples, ripe pears, and a subtle American oak influence that lingers on the finish.

While the specific distilleries used in Tenjaku’s blend are undisclosed, this practice is common among affordable Japanese whiskies to maintain consistency and protect trade secrets. Many producers believe that the art of blending transcends individual distilleries, focusing instead on the harmony of flavours in the final product. The lack of an age-statement whisky also allows for greater flexibility in blending, ensuring a high-quality dram year after year at a reasonable price range.

Bottled at 40% ABV, Tenjaku offers a slightly gentler drinking experience compared to Toki, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer a softer, more approachable whisky. The lower alcohol content allows the delicate flavours to shine through, creating a perfect base for classic cocktails like the Tenjaku Old Fashioned.

Comparing Toki and Tenjaku

FeatureSuntory TokiTenjaku
Price£30.55£30.00
ABV43%40%
DistilleriesYamazaki, Hakushu, ChitaUndisclosed
Tasting NotesGreen apple, grapefruit, honey, peppermintFresh orchard fruits, delicate floral notes, vanilla, crisp green apples, ripe pears, subtle oak
AccoladesGold Medal, 2017 International Spirits ChallengeGold Medal, 91 Points, 2020 Beverage Testing Institute
Ideal ForHighballs, sipping neatOld Fashioneds, sipping neat

Both Toki and Tenjaku offer excellent value in the under £50 Japanese whisky category. While Toki’s complexity shines due to the multiple distilleries involved, providing a unique taste, Tenjaku impresses with its pure Japanese craftsmanship and smooth, approachable flavour profile. Ultimately, the choice comes down to personal taste preferences and the desired cocktail experience.

Other Affordable Japanese Whiskies to Consider for a Unique Taste

  • Nikka Days: A bright, fruity blend from Nikka Coffey stills with a touch of vanilla and spice.
  • Akashi White Oak: A smooth single malt whisky with hints of citrus and white oak.
  • Hatozaki Pure Malt Whisky: A light, delicate blend with notes of honey, pear, and a subtle smokiness.
  • Mars Iwai Tradition: A soft, approachable whisky from Mars Shinshu distillery with flavours of caramel, vanilla, and a hint of peat.
  • Tokinoka Blended Whisky: A well-balanced dram with notes of dried fruit, nuts, and a touch of smoke.

For more recommendations, check out our guide to the Best Japanese Whiskies for Highballs in 2024.

Toki & Tenjaku Cocktail Recipes to Enjoy These Rich Spirits

Toki Highball: A Refreshing Twist on a Classic

Affordable Japanese Whisky

Affordable Japanese Whisky

Ingredients:

  • 45ml Suntory Toki Whisky
  • 120ml chilled sparkling water
  • Lemon peel or ginger slice for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice.
  2. Pour in the Suntory Toki Whisky.
  3. Gently stir to chill the whisky.
  4. Top with chilled sparkling water.
  5. Garnish with a lemon peel or ginger slice.

Tenjaku Old Fashioned: Tradition Meets Japanese Harmony

The Best Affordable Japanese Whisky

The Best Affordable Japanese Whisky

Ingredients:

  • 60ml Tenjaku Whisky
  • 1 sugar cube or 1 tsp simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In an Old Fashioned glass, muddle the sugar cube with the bitters.
  2. Add Tenjaku Whisky and stir until sugar dissolves.
  3. Fill the glass with ice and stir until chilled.
  4. Express the oil from the orange peel over the drink and use as garnish.

Toki Yuzu Sour: A Citrusy Delight

The Best Affordable Japanese Whisky

The Best Affordable Japanese Whisky

Ingredients:

  • 60ml Suntory Toki Whisky
  • 30ml fresh yuzu juice (or lemon juice)
  • 15ml simple syrup
  • Yuzu peel or lemon wheel for garnish

Instructions:

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Add Toki, yuzu juice, and simple syrup.
  3. Shake well until chilled.
  4. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
  5. Garnish with a yuzu peel or lemon wheel.

Glossary of Key Japanese Whisky Terms

  • ABV: Alcohol by volume, a standard measure of how much alcohol is in a given volume of a drink.
  • Dram: A small amount of whisky, typically about 1/8 of a fluid ounce.
  • Highball: A mixed drink consisting of a spirit (in this case, whisky) and a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer, often served over ice in a tall glass.
  • Single Malt: A whisky made exclusively from malted barley at a single distillery.
  • Coffey Still: A type of continuous still used to produce grain whiskies, named after its inventor Aeneas Coffey.
  • Age Statement: The number of years a whisky has been aged in casks, often displayed on the bottle.
  • Cask Finish: The process of ageing a whisky in a different type of cask (e.g., sherry, wine, or bourbon) to impart unique flavours.

Additional Resources for the Whisky Lover

These resources provide valuable insights, reviews, and discussions for those looking to deepen their knowledge of Japanese whisky.

The Best Affordable Japanese Whisky: My Verdict on Toki and Tenjaku

Suntory Toki and Tenjaku are fantastic entry points into the world of Japanese whisky, offering authentic experiences without the hefty price tags of more expensive whiskies like Hibiki or aged single malts. While each has its unique characteristics and potential drawbacks, both whiskies deliver smooth, enjoyable complex flavour profiles that cater to a wide range of palates and provide excellent bases for crafting delightful cocktails.

By exploring these expressions from Yamazaki, Hakushu, Chita, and other Japanese distilleries, experimenting with the provided recipes, and engaging with the additional resources, you’ll be well on your way to discovering your perfect affordable Japanese whisky.

So pour yourself a dram, savour the craftsmanship, and embark on your journey through the captivating world of Japanese whisky. Kanpai!

FAQ’s

What is a good Japanese whiskey for the price?

A good Japanese whiskey for the price is Nikka Coffey Grain Whisky, which offers excellent value and complexity for its affordable price point

The most popular whiskey in Japan is Suntory Kakubin, a blended whisky widely enjoyed for its smooth, balanced flavour.

What is the best Japanese whiskey to invest in?

The best Japanese whiskey to invest in is likely Hibiki 21 Year Old, as it is a highly acclaimed and limited-release expression that has seen significant appreciation in value over time.

Is Hibiki or Yamazaki better?

Between Hibiki and Yamazaki, opinions vary, but many consider Hibiki to be the better overall whiskey, with its harmonious blend and complex, refined character.

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