The Pokeno Whisky logo on their copper still

Our Distillery Partners


A family owned business crafting bold, creative single malts unburdened by expectation & unhurried by nature that capture the pure spirit of Aotearoa – New Zealand

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New Zealand's largest single malt distillery, The Pokeno Whisky Company is a family owned business, a passion project for all involved - Founder Matt Johns has been in the industry over 25 years!

At their state-of-the-art distillery the team make use full use of the outstanding local ingredients including New Zealand malted barley (grown in the rich & fertile south island by three family-owned farms), volcanic water from the nearby hills (rich in iron and manganese), to craft bold & creative single malts unburdened by expectation & unhurried by nature.

The impressive facilities don't stop there either - they also include New Zealand's only cooperage, making their own casks, experimenting with native New Zealand wood as well as more traditional oak. All together this means Pokeno control all operations on site to ensure that their whiskies capture the pure spirit of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The team at Pokeno Distillery
Interesting Facts
  • The New Zealand spirit is forged through a unique marriage of culture and climate - it's this spirit that inspires Pōkeno to experiment with flavour to create world-class- but distinctively different - single malts

  • Everything they do is driven by the goal to create one of the world's great single malts. Batch production, long fermentation, slow distillation (3 litres per minute) and long still rests to regenerate the copper are just a few of the things that help make them different

  • Every process in the distillery is undertaken without compromise to distil the sweetest and smoothest single malt possible

  • Pōkeno is both the largest single malt distillery and has the tallest stills in New Zealand! They are also New Zealand's only cooperage and the only distillery in the world making casks out of native New Zealand Timber

  • The distillery is built above an aquifer which collects volcanic water from the nearby hills

  • They select only the finest casks to mature their precious spirit, and the warm sub-tropical local climate accelerates its maturation and flavour development

  • The ethos at Pōkeno is that their ingredients connect them to their culture, their history and their environment; their passion and expertise enables them to honour them

  • A family owned business, a passion project for all involved - Founder Matt Johns has been in the industry over 25 years!

Inside the Pokeno Whisky Distillery
Cask World's Highlights

In 2023, I had the pleasure of visiting Pokeno Distillery, an experience that has left a lasting impression on me. Pokeno Distillery, founded in 2017 by Mathew Johns and his wife, is a testament to their passion and commitment. After relocating to New Zealand, they noticed the scarcity of local distilleries and set out to change that. Mathew, with over 25 years of experience in the whisky industry, aimed to showcase the potential of New Zealand whisky. His expertise has not only helped Pokeno Distillery thrive but also contributed to setting industry standards for New Zealand.

It is easy to see how anyone could be captivated by the nature New Zealand provides, especially in Pokeno with the majestic, volcanic Bombay Hills. The drive itself was quite scenic, offering glimpses of the lush, rolling hills and pristine landscapes that make New Zealand so special. Upon arrival, I was immediately struck by the distillery’s serene setting and the warm, welcoming atmosphere.

The tour began with an introduction to the distillery’s water source, which is drawn from the volcanic hills of Pokeno. The purity of this water is a key component in their whisky production, ensuring a high-quality product from the very start. This attention to detail and commitment to using local resources was evident throughout my visit.

Mathew took us through the journey of getting the distillery up and running, a process that required a significant investment of $10 million. Remarkably, he financed this entirely himself, allowing him to maintain complete control over the quality and direction of his product. This level of dedication is not only impressive but also speaks volumes about his commitment to both his business and his family.

One of the best aspects of Pokeno Distillery is their use of 100% New Zealand-sourced barley, predominantly from Canterbury. They use a specific barley strain called Lariat, known for its excellent quality. The distillery’s on-site cooperage allows them to create their own casks from local wood, further emphasizing their commitment to local ingredients and craftsmanship.

Meeting Mathew and learning about his vision was truly inspiring. His goal of putting New Zealand whisky on the global map is ambitious, yet entirely achievable given his expertise and the high standards he maintains. One aspect that particularly impressed me was Mathew's willingness to innovate and break away from traditional Scotch whisky rules. This freedom allows New World distilleries like Pokeno to explore unique flavors and create something genuinely distinctive.

Pokeno at a glance

  • Distillery Name

    Pōkeno Distillery 

  • Founder

    Matt & Celine Johns

  • Distillery Age

    Established 2017

  • Distillery Location

    Pōkeno, New Zealand

  • Head Distiller

    Matt Johns

  • The Team

    Matt & Celine Johns - Founders
    Matt Johns - Head Distiller
    Gareth Kimpton - Production Manager
    Joe Tansey - Distiller
    Mike Tawse - Cooper/Distiller
    Aaron Savage - Sales Manager
    Frances Hayes - Finance

  • Facilities

    A state of the art distillery, two maturation warehouses, filtration & bottling plant, and a cooperage

  • Primary Whisky Types

    Single malt whisky only

  • Cask Types

    Bourbon, sherry, wine, fortified wine, virgin, native wood

  • Cask Storage

    Palletised in a warehouse 

  • Av. Length of Maturation
  • Angels' Share


  • Current Bottle Prices

    $99 - $249 (NZD)

  • Awards

    2023 San Francisco Spirits Challenge - Silver medals for Pōkeno Origin and Discovery, PX single cask and Prohibition first fill bourbon single cask, 2023 Las Vegas Global Spirits Awards - Gold for Pōkeno Origin and Discovery

Take a look around

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