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Exclave Rye Whiskey

Tall Glass bottle filled with light brown liquid with a black, white and gold label

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Exclave Rye Whiskey


About Exclave Rye Whiskey

Although I made an effort to explore rye whiskey last year and there are plenty of other spirits I still want to try, rye is too good in cocktails for me to stop looking for new bottles to check out. And lucky for me, my parents gifted me this bottle of Exclave Rye Whiskey during the holidays.

 Exclave spirits is a New Orleans, Louisiana based brand that was created to celebrate the contribution of the black community to the history of spirits. This brand, produced and bottled by River basin Spirits, is only a few years old, but was awarded double gold by the American Distilling Institute.

Bottle Specs

❖ Spirit: Rye Whiskey

Distillery: River Basin Distillery

❖ ABV: 45%

Mash Bill: 51% Rye Grain and 49% Corn

❖ Aged over 3 years

❖ Moderate/high Price

Tasting Notes


Color: Honey

❖ Nose: Vanilla, Honey

Taste: Vanilla, Honey, Cinnamon. Sweet notes were dominant at the beginning but herbal mint and oak become more prominent over time.

Finish: Long, Mint, Cinnamon, Caramel

golden brown liquid in a glencairn glass


orange liquid in a coupe glass with a sage leaf floating on top

Sage Brown Derby

2 oz Rye Whiskey

1 oz  Red or Pink Grapefruit

1/2 oz Lime Juice

1/4 oz Agave Syrup

2 Dashes of Bitters

Sage Leaf

❖ Add the bitters, grapefruit and lime juice, agave syrup and rye whiskey to a cocktail tin.

❖ Fill with ice then shake for about 20 seconds

❖ Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a sage leaf 

I’m not exactly sure how long I’ve held onto this Sage Brown Derby cocktail recipe from the Bon Appetit, but I had an extra grapefruit lying around, so it seemed like the perfect time to try it out. I’ve never had a cocktail with whiskey and grapefruit juice before, and the mix of all these bold ingredients was intriguing.

This is a delightful cocktail. It’s definitely citrus-forward, but the vanilla and honey notes from Exclave still came through. It’s been a little while since I made a drink with this many ingredients, but I liked the overall balance. I ended up using Angostura bitters, mostly just because of it’s reddish color, but I’m interested to try other bitters in the future.


Bottom Line


I think Exclave Rye whiskey is the best rye I’ve ever tried. It works well in cocktails but it really shines as a solo experience. I loved how the flavor evolves from sweet notes to the mint and wood notes rye whiskey is known for.

But while Exclave Rye Whiskey is definitely worth checking out, a couple of minor points keep it from being a must buy. I didn’t see any retailers in my area carry it, and only a few places online had it in stock.

And, it’s in a really competitive $60 to $80 range, so I always had the price in the back of my head while comparing it to other whiskies. And, I’m still not sure if the increase in price matches the increase in quality from the other rye whiskies we’ve reviewed.

I also was a little confused by Exclave’s marketing regarding black culture. There was an odd disconnect between the statement of Exclave being an homage to black contributions to the history spirit production, and the lack of explicit reasons why this is the case, and also no mention of being black owned or ran. But, I hope this lack of clarity is just because Exclave is a new brand that’s still developing, and I do respect that a portion of their proceeds go to a black charity in New Orleans, Turning Tables

As always, drink responsibly.

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