Whisky Review: Pōkeno Double Bourbon Single Cask Single Malt

, | March 16, 2023

Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.

Hailing from New Zealand, Pōkeno Whisky is trying to put its country on the map for whisky drinkers who have probably never considered the island nation as a bastion for spirit production. Headed by industry veteran Matthew Johns, who has been associated with some of the largest names in the single malt whisky world, Pōkeno is a self-declared passion project aiming for quality over quantity in their quest to produce world class single malt whiskies.

This aim is present in their production process, and every step of their batch production process happens on site, from the slow fermentation, to slow spirit runs, as they take every opportunity to eke out as much flavor from the spirit as possible.

For those who are newer to whisky, “single malt” refers to the process of whisky making that uses only one strain of malted barley in its production (whenever you hear the term ‘malt’ it is referring to malted barley). Single malt is the style of the original whiskies from Scotland and is the oldest style of whisky making.

However, Pōkeno’s final results resemble more closely that of a Japanese whisky, which are widely single malts as well. The similarity being that Pōkeno, and many of the most popular Japanese whiskies, have a final result that is incredibly smooth, with more subtle flavors then the bold peatiness that is common in scotch.

The Double Bourbon Single Cask Single Malt I’m reviewing here from Pōkeno features the distillery’s unique twist to aging as they take their single malt whisky, fully age it in a fresh fill bourbon barrel and then transfer that aged whiskey into second fresh fill bourbon barrel for six extra months to add even more complex, bourbon flavor to the finished product.

This whisky is also ‘single cask’ meaning after the aging process has finished the whiskies from separate casks are not blended together.

Pokeno Double Bourbon Single Cask Single Malt review

We review Pōkeno Double Bourbon Single Cask Single Malt, a New Zealand single malt that’s been double aged in two, separate bourbon barrels. (image via Pōkeno)

Tasting Notes: Pōkeno Double Bourbon Single Cask

Vital Stats: Mash Bill: 100% malted barley. Double aged in two, separate bourbon barrels. 46% ABV.

Appearance: Light gold.

Nose: Caramel sweetness with more alcohol burn than other selections from Pokeno that I’ve tried. Also, a bit of graham cracker that blends nicely with the overall aroma.

Palate: The caramel and graham cracker are both still fully present on the palate as well, along with a bit more heat than you will find in other Pokeno whisky’s. However, it still has that silky-smooth texture that you will be used to if you have ever tried other whiskies from this producer.

Whisky Review: Pōkeno Double Bourbon Single Cask Single Malt


Sweet and mild, with more complexity and heat than Pokeno’s Origin whisky, which is their other selection that is entirely aged in Bourbon barrels. I found this a more enjoyable option, and something I think all bourbon drinkers will really enjoy. It has that same sweetness that you will find in a traditional bourbon, but it doesn’t overpower you with either the flavor or the heat.

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Ryan O'Doherty

Born and raised in Portland, Oregon. I'm a former distiller at Jackson Hole Still Works in Wyoming. Fan of whiskey, golf, and especially whiskey and golf together.