J. Bally was established in 1917 by Jacques Bally in the French Caribbean Island of Martinique. It is one of the oldest distilleries on Martinique. Among producers of rhum agricole, the brand is famous for its unique peculiar pyramid-shaped bottle. As of the 1920s, aged rhum became the speciality of J. Bally.
Old, aged rhum is the speciality of J. Bally. Characterised by delicate flavours, roundness on the palate and great fruit aromas.
On the nose, the rums of J. Bally are quite mellow. Light hints of fruit, cane sugar, and pepper are evident. On the palate, notes of fresh fruit, grassiness with lemongrass from the sugar cane are expected. Some hidden hints of caramel, vanilla and dry wood give J. Bally rums a distinct flavour from ageing.
J. Bally is produced using the juices of fresh sugar cane harvested throughout January and February.
The distillation process is argued to take place at either the Saint James distillery using the modernised equipment or the Simon distillery where the original J. Bally creole still is situated. Both of which are situated on Martinique. The spirits are initially rested in steel tanks for a number of months, before being aged in oak casks. Then J. Bally rhum is bottled at 50% ABV with no other additives.
Being bottled after around 6 years of ageing is considered the perfect condition for the distillate to achieve the best aromatic balance.
The J. Bally brand currently produces around 250,000 litres of rum per annum. This gives it a sense of rarity and ‘Artisanal Rum’ status.
J. Bally Blanc is made in conformity with Martinique AOC. This means it is under strict regulations to maintain the quality of Agricole Rhums produced on the island. Similar to Champagne and Cognac.
The aged vintage releases, such as J. Bally 1929 and J. Bally Vintage 1966, are still available to buy, however at a really high price.
The story of J. Bally starts in 1917 when Jacques Bally purchased a small sugar refinery and water mill which was built in the early 1600s. Bally then transformed the refinery into a distillery. Having a strong engineering background, he was able to build a new distillation creole column himself and also install a steam engine to power everything.
In 1924, Bally methodically put all of his efforts into the maturation of his rums. In the years between the 1950s and 1960s, the vintage rum of J. Bally earned the reputation of being one of the best rhum agricole in the world.
Bally invented the famous pyramid-shaped bottle in collaboration with Saint-Gobain in the 1930s. This bottle became a signature of the brand and made J. Bally popular around the world.
In 1976, Bally rum production took place at Saint James in the creole column Still, yet part of the ageing was still carried out in Bally cellars. Remy Cointreau took control of J. Bally in 1996. The whole production was completely moved to Saint James distillery. However, the original methods developed by Jacques Bally have remained the same.