Close this search box.

Pôkeno Whisky’s Exploration Series Features Totara Cask Finish Single Malt

New Zealand’s Pôkeno Whisky Distillery recently launched a creative new expression in its Exploration Series, their first single malt matured in Totara barrels.

Information supplied by Pôkeno Whisky explained that the brand launched last year with a core range of single malts made exclusively with New Zealand ingredients.

The whisky makers continue to experiment with flavor and profile through single cask special editions and creative collaborations, taking it a step further … focusing on wood.

Pôkeno Totara Cask
New Zealand’s Pôkeno Whisky Distillery recently launched a creative new expression in its Exploration Series, their first single malt matured in Totara barrels. (image via Pôkeno)

Founder Matt Johns described the Pôkeno Exploration Series as a journey of discovery, with the culture and environment of Aotearoa, New Zealand. And that starts 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,” Johns said. “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.”

Tawse handmade 200-liter totara barrels and gave them a light toast and char. For the Pôkeno whisky, after an initial maturation in first-fill bourbon casks, the liquid was transferred to these totara barrels for a second maturation period.

The distiller noted that this single malt whisky offers notes of creamy coconut, sweet-scented sap, ripe white peach and fresh cut wood on the nose. On the palate, it features bitter lemon, stone fruit and hints of dark chocolate, with a long and sweet finish.

Along with the Totara Cask, the Exploration Series will also feature the Pôkeno Triple Distilled and the Pôkeno Winter Malt.

“Pôkeno Single Malt is incredibly sweet and smooth, characteristics created by our signature slow double distillation,” Johns said. “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.”

He described the Pôkeno Winter Malt as a unique selection of New Zealand malts, including Manuka smoked, chocolate and toffee. It was aged in first-fill bourbon barrels and offers sweet honied smoke, chocolate caramel slice, vanilla bean and toffee on the nose, and a palate of bitter dark chocolate and cocoa beans, with a long, sweet and smoky finish.

There will be less than 2,000 bottles of each single malt made for global distribution, about a quarter of those are reserved for the New Zealand market.

The Pokeno Exploration Series is a very limited release collection, having already pre-sold the first 300 bottles to existing customers. Only 100 bottles of the Totara Cask remain available for purchase.

You can find a bottle at the upcoming Auckland Food Show in New Zealand, or direct from the Pôkeno distillery shop, which is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, check out

Gary Carter

Gary Carter has been at the helm of metro newspapers, magazines, and television news programs as well as a radio host and marketing manager. He is a writer/editor/photographer/designer by trade, with more than 30 years experience in the publishing and marketing field. Gary enjoys working to build something great, whether that be a novel project, a start-up, an organization, a fresh-face to the journalistic world, or even something as simple as a short story. A native Texan and a Pacific Northwest convert, he is a whiskey enthusiast who cut his teeth on it ... literally!

All Posts
  • Latest News
  • Latest Reviews