While the Maisano name was already well known in whiskey circles due to the exceptional selection available at their retail store in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Jonathan and Jennifer decided to take things just a step further in 2021 when they launched K.Luke whiskey. What started as a passion project between the power couple continues to stand as a tribute to their two children, Kaitlyn and Lucas (the inspiration for the name K.Luke). I fondly recall their first-ever release, when Jonathan joined me and my dear friend Brittany on an Instagram live back in 2021. The whiskey was good. Really good. I was thoroughly impressed and immediately sought out where to find their offerings, which I could thankfully get through Seelbach's. Now in their 7th blend, with an 8th on the horizon in February 2024, K.Luke whiskey is continuing to rock out new releases these days.
At the heart of the brand is very clearly a great palate and someone who is an enthusiast first and foremost. I have to admit I shamefully haven't explored any other offering from them since that batch 1 run of the bourbon, perhaps due to my busy schedule, or the extra hurdle of not having it distributed in my home state of Massachusetts, but I am excited for the opportunity to evaluate how things have developed since that first blend hit my lips years ago. When Jonathan reached out and asked if I'd be interested in reviewing a media sample, I was quick to agree, so long as we were both in accord with the guidelines in my editorial policy. I'm grateful to Jonathan and Jennifer for sending this along so that I could review it with no strings attached. I also commend the move to send these 300mL flask style bottles, as it gives me enough whiskey to review without taking up as much space on my 'to do' shelf. Which... really... that shelf is scary deep right now. Without rambling too much further, let's get you reading that review you are here for. What's the new batch all about, you ask?
Let's find out.
Diving deeper on what's inside the bottle led me to learn that this 10 barrel blend consists of 6 different distillery mash bill combinations bottled at a nice sweet spot of 116.4 proof. Even just the jump to a 10 barrel blend (from 4 which was the previous norm) was scary for Jonathan; he admittedly didn't know how the process was going to work until he experimented with it and tasted it. Ultimately, after countless tweaks and blind tastings with Jennifer, batch 7 was nuanced and exceptional enough to stand up to some of the best whiskey releases on the market according to their palates. I've been fortunate enough to have tried some of the best as well, so let's see where this bourbon lands on my rating scale.
Company on Label: K.Luke Whiskey
Whiskey Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: Undisclosed blend of 6 unique Kentucky & Indiana sourced high rye and low rye bourbon mash bills
Age: NAS (min 4 years)
Further identification: Batch 7 is a blend of 10 barrels that was bottled on 11/9/23 yielding 1,890 bottles; it is available now in LA, MS, TN, KY, and WY markets, as well as online at Seelbach's at an MSRP of $110
Nose: Bright strawberry lifts out of the glass first for me before a thick, warming leather aroma permeates the nostrils. Deep inhales of the approachable air atop the glass weave together a complex tapestry of brown sugar, freshly baked everything bagel, black pepper, and dry cinnamon powder. A swirl of the glass oes well to jostle around some more subtle baking spice. Overall the nose is quite approachable despite the spice notes being the prominent component, perhaps due to the cool leather characteristic that is well integrated with everything else here. Time to taste.
Returning from a sip shows a poised, complex nose is still available for interrogation. Deep vanilla bean ice cream tones proliferate alongside walnut and toffee tones. Breakfast seems to be nearby as strawberry chia pudding comes together in dazzling beauty. Holy moly, I am loving this nose as the glass has warmed softly in my hand. Further waves of elegant confectionary delights stand in gorgeous contrast to the earlier layers of spice. In the empty glass I discover more brown sugar, milk chocolate, caramel apple, and coffee cake to be well integrated and viscous in the nose.
Palate: My first sip is an eyebrow raiser as vintage funk leads the way before parting towards buttercream frosting, pear, and clover honey. Another sip is required to build up the mouthfeel a bit more which adds in sweet peach rings, apricot, and plum all neatly carried together in a burlap sack. I get a distinct farm vibe from this pour which reminds me of some warm late Summer days spent working on the Soule Homestead farm picking whatever happened to be in season in return for an honest paycheck. Leather gloves, a long sleeve shirt to keep the sun off my skin, and a straw hat were enough to bring joy to those days. Sipping further into the glass here illustrates the depth of complexity this blend carries: new notes of blackberry and old growth forest create a salvo of balanced flavor dropping across the taste buds. Late in the glass some tasty hot chocolate tones begin to crop up. My last sip is delicate doozy of raspberry sorbet, vanilla cheesecake, and chamomile tea. The linger is medium with oodles of vanilla and honeysuckle tones sticking in the cheeks.
TL;DR: A wonderfully fun journey from start to finish & sure to evolve differently with every tasting
This is a whiskey nerd's whiskey. The label carries (almost) all the details you could ask for and the whiskey inside is complex, delicate, and delicious. I do wish it listed sources, mash bills, and ages, but I trust that it was a well-intentioned decision to omit this information as more and more companies play catch up and copycat these days. Despite what one might expect when they see an Indiana component listed in the blend, there are in fact more distilleries than just MGP operating out of that state. Undoubtedly there will be some MGP stocks, as those barrels are quite prevalent on the market these days, but overall it feels like some great well-aged stocks were chosen for this blend. As for the Kentucky portion... I won't even wager a guess as there is such depth to this blend that no one producer stands out to me. At the end of the day this is certainly good whiskey and this should serve as a great testament to what a good blending process can achieve.
Another great example of blending prowess on full display is the Four Roses Limited Edition, a favorite release of Jonathan Maisano's as well, and one that I happen to have on hand. A quick taste against the 2022 release instantly shows off why the Four Roses earned my top score. This K.Luke release doesn't quite reach to the same height as that bottle, but it is pretty damn close, which is an incredible feat given how good that whiskey is. Hope this review helps! Cheers friends!