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Pôkeno Whisky Launches Exploration Series With World-first Totara Cask Finish Single Malt

Pioneering New Zealand single malt whisky distillery, Pôkeno Whisky, has today launched its most creative and innovative series to-date with the first single malt to have been matured in Totara barrels.

Pôkeno Whisky launched last year with a core range of single malts made uniquely with New Zealand ingredients and has continued to experiment with flavour and profile through single cask special editions and creative collaborations. Now, taking this a step further, founder Matt Johns describes the Pôkeno Exploration Series as a journey of discovery, not just of their own creativity, but also the culture and environment of Aotearoa, New Zealand – starting with the Totara Cask.

“Our ambition through the Exploration Series has been to create an even deeper connection between our spirit and the essence of New Zealand. Totara is the tree that has built Aotearoa – traditionally used for waka, carvings, homes and food storage. Thanks to the unique skills of New Zealand’s only cooper, Mike Tawse, working here in Pôkeno in New Zealand’s only cooperage, we can now add whisky barrels to this list.”

Mike has handcrafted the world’s first ever 200 litre totara barrels and given them a light toast and char. After an initial maturation in first fill bourbon casks, the whisky was transferred to these totara barrels for a second maturation period.

The result is a stunning single malt whisky that offers notes of creamy coconut, sweet-scented sap, ripe white peach and freshly cut wood on the nose, leading to the discovery of bitter lemon, stone fruit and hints of dark chocolate in the mouth for a long and sweet finish.

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Alongside the Totara Cask, the Exploration Series also features two further expressions: the Pôkeno Triple Distilled and the Pôkeno Winter Malt.

“Pôkeno Single Malt is its incredibly sweet and smooth - characteristics created by our signature slow double distillation. By adding a further distillation, then maturing in only the finest first fill bourbon barrels, we have pushed the profile of the Triple Distilled to the next level, delivering notes of vanilla, citrus, butterscotch and a hint of pepper clove with a long, rich finish,” says Matt.

The Pôkeno Winter Malt builds on a unique selection of New Zealand malts, including manuka smoked, chocolate and toffee and has also been aged in only the finest first fill bourbon barrels. It offers sweet honied smoke, chocolate caramel slice, vanilla bean and toffee on the nose, and mouth notes of bitter dark chocolate and cocoa beans which mingle beautifully with creamy fudge for a long, sweet and smoky finish.

“Delicious warmth for the coldest of nights,” is how Matt describes it.

With less than 2000 bottles of each single malt made for global distribution, around a quarter of which have been reserved for the New Zealand market, the Pokeno Exploration Series is an extremely special limited release collection.

Having presold the first 300 bottles to existing customers, only 100 bottles of the Totara Cask remain available for purchase. This can be done either at the upcoming Auckland Food Show or direct from the Pôkeno distillery shop, which is open Saturdays 11am to 5pm.

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