Hauraki-Coromandel Post

How it’s made


Matt founded Po¯ keno Whisky in 2017 with his wife Celine.

“There is a growing interest in new world whisky . . . Why should New Zealand not be a part of this? We have the ideal conditions to make a good whisky,” he says.

When the whisky matures, the outside temperatur­e will expand the liquid in the cask, which causes the whisky to take on the flavours from the wood as well.

“In a cold country like Scotland, the whisky moves slowly and therefore requires a long maturation.

“But thanks to New Zealand’s subtropica­l climate, the whisky is working hard in the barrel and we get a very accelerate­d maturation,” Matt says.

However, he says this also means his whisky can’t be judged by age.

The natural alcohol evaporatio­n off whisky in barrels is known in the business as “the angel’s share”.

In Scotland, the loss is between 2 and 3 per cent of the whisky per year.

“In Po¯ keno, it’s 9 per cent a year.

After three years, we lose 27 per cent, which means the whisky matures so quickly, I’m never gonna get to 10 years because there would be next to nothing left,” says Matt.

“For us, it’s all about the flavour profile.”

There are currently about 10 whisky distilleri­es in New Zealand.

Matt says there are a couple of other things that set Po¯ keno Whisky apart.

“Our mashing process is longer . . . and we have a long fermentati­on process. Normally, this process takes 40 hours, but we do 80, which adds fruity notes to the end product.

“We also have a slow distillati­on process which means the product will have more copper contact . . . [this] makes the whisky sweeter and smoother.

“This process usually takes six hours. Ours [takes] eight and a half hours, but we only collect spirit for two, which means we only put the purest whisky into a barrel.”

Traditiona­l Scotch whisky barrels have to be oak by law.

“This doesn’t allow for real innovation. In the US, the legislatio­n only states ‘wooden casks’, so in New Zealand, we decided to follow that.”

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