Bally 1979


Average score

Bottle Profile
Distillery Bally
Origin Martinique
Bottler none
Type Agricole Rhum (artisanal column)
Alcohol By Volume 45%
Sugar Measured
Review 4


Review by "Lance" Score: 83

By now two things are clear about these older Bally rhums - aside from some educated guesswork, we don't know how old they are, and by this time, 1979, the AOC noted on the label is somewhat of a puzzler, unless the thing is seventeen years old, in which case it would hardly be labelled a mere "rhum vieux" but an "XO". So maybe after the initial ageing they stored it in tanks or flagons and only bottled it after 1996...or, more likely, it came under a previous version of the official 1996 AOC designation. At this point, it's somewhat academic, though -- given it was made nearly forty years ago, it presents as a rhum that shows something of the evolution of the agricole world over time.

Nose: Pungent, grassy, clear and quite light, quite dry. There were olives in brine, grapes, black tea, some citrus peel and aromatic tobacco, but also something softer, milder: strawberries and bananas, I'd say, forming a nice counterpoint. It takes its time opening up, once this happens, it gets somewhat fruitier, while never entirely letting go of the grassy, herbal aromas.

Palate: Creamy and salty, black bread and cheese. It's also somewhat sharper and more more tannic than the earlier Ballys from 1992 and 1993, with wood taking center stage, and a taste of something green, like grass, fresh sap, Japanese tea. So also somewhat bitter, and the clean purity of agricoles with which we are more familiar has receded - fortunately I could still taste tart apples, lemon zest and raisins, plus whiffs of dark chocolate and some unripe fruit.

Finish: Pleasant close out - dry, edgy, warm. White guavas and pears, plus the tartness of soursop, pencil shavings and perhaps too much oak. Not entirely a success here, perhaps a shade too peppery and not as well balanced as the nose or palate.

Thoughts: Here we have moved away from the almost standard profile of the '80s and '90s demonstrated so clearly by the newer Bally rums, and returned to agricole rums' roots...but also something of a tangent from those profiles we are now used to. A solid rhum, but not one that ascends to the heights.

Review by "Serge" Score: 82

This one’s also already got the AOC.

Nose: a drier style again, closer to the 1992, but with rather more herbal teas, including lemon grass and spearmint, as well as this kind of mentholated earthiness that can be so wonderful in any nose of any truly aged spirit. I also find whiffs of cedar wood (cigar humidor) and a kind of musty liquorice. Cellar-aged liquorice? And why not? Behind that, the usual ripe bananas.

Palate: sweet Vishnu, this one rocks and punches! The most brutal, rough, and aggressive of them all, with some gritty herbs and a feeling of green tannins. Over-infused green tea, a few pencil shavings. Very good for sure, but not my favourite.

Finish: long, a tad varnishy, tannic, acrid… A tad! Some pepper in the aftertaste, plus a strange fizz.

Thoughts: very very good, of course, it’s just that the first three were just marvellous. In other words, the death seat syndrome, perhaps.

Review by "Cyril" Score: 85

Nose: robe ambrée acajou nez charmeur et exotique sur des fruits confits/secs épicés, de l'ananas, de la banane et des agrumes (citron), et un boisé délicatement fumé/grillé qui monte en intensité pour un profil classieux et qui laisse rêveur. C'est très agréable et tellement séduisant que l'on y resterait des heures... un très bel équilibre pour une efficacité redoutable. Plus le temps passe et plus les arômes de fruits confits ressortent et vous caressent les sens, vanillés et chocolatés. Un délice, de la perfection.

Palate: vive et huileuse, incisive sur les épices, le chêne et les fruits macérés. Un rhum bien vivant à la dominante épicée, avec du clou de girofle, de la muscade, des notes poivrées qui se confondent avec les fruits secs et un boisé qui apporte des tanins. C'est intense en bouche, très riche, végétal (herbe), sur le sous bois.

Finish: La fin de bouche est longue et vous délivre de son emprise (avant la prochaine gorgée) en slow motion. Plutôt tannique, âcre et poivrée dans un bel élan.

Thoughts: encore un bel exemple d'un rhum Bally riche et concentré, même si on est ici loin des nez exotiques et gourmands d'autres millésimes. Un rhum plus brut mais toujours bien exécuté.

Review by "Marco" Score: 93

A rum distilled after the closure of the Bally distillery in 1978. Has the quality suffered? We shall see.

Nose: Oha! Big fat adhesive aromas after over an hour, garnished with exotic fruits. tobacco, interwoven with ripe bananas and oak waft the glass. Rich spices, including cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sweet papayas, apricots and fresh sugarcane. Reminiscent of old tropical Veliers. Iodine, caramel, herbs and brown muscovado sugar. Smells both sweet and bitter. Further away: Mangoes, tar, medicine and oak. More mature than 1960 and 1975 so far.

Palate: Oak, black tea, sugar, caramel and tobacco. At first sweet, but then more sour in taste. Old wood, anise, and medicine. Wonderfully complex and no excessive bitterness. Herbs, fruits, honey and minerals. He has more power than the other two mentioned vintages. At the end of black tea, anise, sugarcane, iodine and old wood.

Finish: Oak, caramel and tobacco. Then sugarcane, fruit and cinnamon. Herbs and minerals. The rum is slightly dry at the end.

Thoughts: My current favorite of the brand J. Bally. The closure of the distillery did not harm the quality. Good news!

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