J. Bally Heritage Rhum Vieux XO

J. Bally Heritage Bottle in Box-RG1 Crop-USE

Product of:  Martinique
Aged:  Blend of rhum aged at least 6 years
Price:  €79.87 (on Martinique)
Alcohol: 43% ABV
Sugar: 0g/L
Context:  Rhum Vieux Agricole
RG Rating: 9.5

Tasting Notes
Pull the cork and a mild bouquet of rum-saturated, aged toasted wood slips quietly from the bottle.  In the glass, J.Bally Heritage shows a reddish-brown color, remarkably brilliant in appearance.  Hmm, how are some rums able to take on the look of polished metal and faceted jewels, even though they are liquids?  Swirling leaves a dense crown of beads that slowly form into random thin legs that aid discovering the scents without overwhelming your nose.

Sniff and intake aromas of smoky wood, roasted cocoa bean and grassy anise so characteristic of rhums agricole vieux. Sure, there’s the expected earthy quality as well, but it is as pleasantly applied as the perfume of a woman who expects to dance in an embrace.  Anise, black licorice and peppery flavor strike immediately.  Later, aged dry tobacco leaves, leather and vanilla present themselves gently, followed by a whiff of caramel.  A sip delivers all those aromas in a single harmonious marriage of flavors on a medium body.  The flavors continue to build in intensity long after you swallow, revealing their individual identities in sequence, leaving a delicately dry anise taste minutes later.

This is a soft rhum.  If Jacque Bally was a gentle man, then this rhum pays appropriate homage to all that he started.  It's a fitting tribute, a treat for the eyes and sublime to sip.  Savor when you do, away from noise and distractions, and J. Bally Heritage will ease you toward appreciating rhum history’s whispers over the sultry voices of more forward rums. 

Anecdotes
J.Bally produces some of the oldest aged agricole rhums on Martinique, with quality and flavors to match.  With the closing of the original distillery in the Carbet district in 1989, J. Bally Rhum production has since been moved to the Simon distillery, maker of several other fine agricole rhums.  The aging warehouse and bottling facility are still located in Le Carbet.

J. Bally Heritage Bottle & Box-RG1

The Rum Gallery strives for objectivity in evaluating a rum for review.  Certainly I’ve had plenty of practice, tasting rums in blind competitions all over the world.  Packaging can try to overcome a rum’s shortcomings with gimmickry, yet others are so understated that you wonder how the treasure inside didn’t leak out.  J. Bally packages Heritage  with all the grace and respect it is due, no more nor less.  

An attractive wooden box holds the bottle inside securely.  Slide the clear cover up, see the gold lettering and remove the glass bottle.  Feels its heft and stable wide stance as you pull out the gold colored metal cap top.  The  natural cork stopper makes a tight seal.  The boxed, hard edged square bottle commands all the respect the rum inside deserves.

Opinion
J.Bally Heritage is as soft as a tropical shower.  It isn’t going to blow away your tastebuds with intense vegetal cane flavors, nor will it’s prolonged time aging in oak barrels have you figuratively spitting splinters.   But, J.Bally Heritage will convince you with delicate diplomacy, suggesting quality and letting you discover its exquisite balance at a slower pace.

Shop for J.Bally Heritage online or at the few liquor stores that carry it, and you’ll see prices nearly double what you’ll pay on Martinique.  Rum Gallery sees that as a wonderful opportunity to save a bundle of cash when we next travel to to this authentic piece of France floating in the Caribbean Sea.  Encore.

Reviewed:  January 2014 at The Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017