Now this is a rhum brand that had me research and read more than I was planning with their lack of website and social media not helping the issue either. Its history gets a bit confusing gradually to the point where various statements claim two different distilleries in Martinique where J. Bally is made nowadays. Many thanks to the other bloggers that filtered and posted all the information they could find about the brand (The Lone Caner, thefatrumpirate and Single Cask Rum) so “younger” bloggers like me can find it easier.
J. Bally is named after Jacques Bally, a Parisian engineering graduate who came to Martinique and bought the Lajus Plantation in 1917, 15 years after the erruption of Mount Pelee. The plantation was founded in 1670 and it went bankrupt after the said eruption, so Jacques managed to get it at a cheap price. He was ahead of his game as he started ageing his rhum straight away, making him one of the first producers of agricole to mature rhum in oak barrels. In 1930 he successfully designed the signature pyramid and square style bottles that J. Bally is known for nowadays.
Now it gets a bit iffy, apparently production at the Lajus Estate stopped around 1974, and the operations along with the column still were moved at the Saint James Distillery. Then Remy Cointreau bought J. Bally in the 1980s and the production moved at Simon Distillery, complete with the column. And, once again, it looks like it was being made at again Saint James from 1998, but the column remained at Simon Distillery. Various Google searches say that either one or the other is making J. Bally in the present, which is slightly confusing, so feel free to correct me or give me more insights if you have some.
J. Bally Blanc is made in conformity with the Martinique AOC (appellation d’origine controlee) which places it under strict production regulations in order to maintain the quality of the agricole rhums made on the island – think similar to Champagne or Cognac.
Sugar cane juice based, distilled in a creole column still and rested in steel tanks for a few months. Bottled at 50% ABV without any additives.
On the nose it feels quite mellow. Beetroot, boiled corn, passion fruit, lime (the material) and fresh printer ink. Cane juice (of course) along with some basil. White pepper, sea salt, parma violet and thyme. Floral and sweet.
On the palate becomes spicy, but still pretty easy going for a 50% ABV agricole. Beetroot eau de vie, green chilli and green tea. Unripe plums, green bananas, cashews, oregano and pen ink. Once again it feels pretty retained for its ABV. Some orange juice, white pepper, cardamom and a touch of toffee. Finish is medium with sweet green tea and some spice.
A good example of an AOC Martinique Agricole Rhum, although not as pungent/punchy as I was expecting. It is tasty and balanced which is generally a good thing, but with unaged 50% ABV agricoles “balanced” isn’t really what I have in mind when purchasing them. That being said I can’t wait to use this in a punch!
J. Bally Rhum Agricole Blanc cand be found for £30 (Master of Malt), which is what I consider a good price for a Martinique AOC Agricole that clocks at 50% ABV.
J. Bally Rhum Agricole Blanc score:
Value for money: 15/15