From the farthest corner of the world comes an exciting and authentic newcomer to the global whisky stage.
Launching with a trio of bold, creative single malts made uniquely from New Zealand ingredients, Pōkeno (pronounced Paw-Que-No) is the latest brand to be available from UK Spirits Distributor of the Year Mangrove Global.
Pōkeno whisky honours the pure spirit of Aotearoa (New Zealand) by using only volcanic spring water from the North Island distillery’s surrounding volcanic hills and family-farmed barley from New Zealand’s rich, fertile South Island. The lovingly-crafted result is a range of bold, creative full-bodied single malts that capture the essence of this extraordinary, remote and beautiful land.
Pōkeno is what founder Matt Johns calls his passion project. With over 25 years’ experience in the global whisky industry behind him, he, together with his wife Celine, set out almost a decade ago with a vision to achieve two things: to create some of the world’s finest single malts using only New Zealand ingredients; and in doing so, to put New Zealand on the map as a whiskyproducing nation.
This vision ultimately led them to Pōkeno, a small rural town an hour’s drive south of the country’s biggest city, Auckland.
“For us as craft distillers, Pōkeno is an absolute hidden treasure,” says Matt. “Not only do we have the privilege of using the pure spring water that has been drawn over centuries from the surrounding volcanic hills, but these same hills conspire with the sub-tropical climate to create conditions that accelerate the spirit’s maturation and flavour development in the barrel. In Pōkeno, the angels don’t like to wait for their share!”
The state-of-the-art distillery is in line with some of the best and most established around the world. But without the same volume pressures that big brand producers face, Matt says he and head distiller Rohan McGowan are enjoying the freedom to ferment for longer, distil more slowly and experiment to extract the maximum body and flavour from the New Zealand barley.
“As an independent distillery, and a small team passionate about our craft, we’re entirely driven by quality, not volume; on doing things our way – not the easy way – with no compromise on any part of the process,” says Matt.
“Over the last few years there’s been a growing appreciation of the role that fermentation and distillation plays in the development of body and flavour before the spirit is barrelled. With our focus on quality over volume, we’re able to ferment for a minimum of 72 hours and then double distil incredibly slowly, maximising copper contact through the process to refine our profile and then ensure that only the purest spirit is taken for maturation.”
Mangrove Global Nick Gillett says:
“We are excited to be adding this delicious brand to our portfolio. The three malts are in a class of their own. As world whiskies are growing massively in popularity it is a natural step to include Pōkeno single malts into our increasing portfolio of world whiskies from places such as Mexico, Denmark and Australia.”
To honour the quality of the spirit, 80% of Pōkeno single malt is matured in first fill casks, leaving the barrel to enhance rather than dominate the flavour profile of each whisky. While they may carry their own localised geographic marker with the Pōkeno name, Matt says the new single malts capture the pure spirit of Aotearoa.
“Unlike anywhere else in the world, the New Zealand spirit is forged through a unique marriage of culture and landscape, which creates a sense of place that Kiwis take with them wherever they go in the world. From the outset, we have been guided by a commitment to honouring this pure New Zealand spirit and are delighted that we can now invite whisky lovers from around the world to dare to discover different.”