Oh how I wish that more bottlers would do vintage bottlings like J.Bally, for example. And then we even get the luxury of being able to compare the official releases with an independent bottling. Just the way we like it.
J.Bally 2000 (43%): This is a release from their “standard” vintage series and as you probably know, we don’t know their ages. Nose: Quite Rye-like, very vegetal and in style closer to the “age-statement releases“. Then the characteristic apples but embedded in chicory and cauliflower. Also quite some wood and plenty of spices from the cask, as well as more apples. The fruity side needs some time to open but it is definitely worth waiting for. Palate: A rather balanced mix of the nose, i.e. equal shares of apples, vegetal notes, spices and wood. With the second sip more of the spices, close to cinnamon, cloves, pepper and nutmeg. Next to the cauliflower I can also find creamy potatoes and pumpkin. Not too bad, really. Finish: Medium long at best with plenty of old, thick apples and quite some wood. Despite it not being very long, it is still quite nice nevertheless. A good rum and one of the better ‘standard’ vintages I’d say. (85/100)
J.Bally 2000 18YO (58,1%): The third release in their series of full proof vintage bottlings. The previous two were magnificent and probably the best J.Ballys ever. I wonder where the 2001 is… It has been bottled for LMDW by the way. Nose: Quite similar from the 43% version actually. At first I was thinking that it’s not as aromatic but once it opens up it is even more intense. I even get some glue here! Behind that apples, spices (cinnamon, cloves), wood, cocoa and a hint of quince perhaps. It’s relatively simple but very nice. Palate: Slightly sharp. Then the apples, wood, applesauce and the spices from the nose again, especially cinnamon. I like what I taste but the alcohol really could be integrated quite a bit better for my liking. Then Earl Grey tea and more cinnamon sticks. Finish: Medium long to long with applesauce, spices and wood. It’s constantly moving back and forth between dry (wood) and fruity (apple). It is not the most complex rum out there and definitely also not the paragon of smoothness but I do like it. Full proof Agricole is just a thing of beauty. (87/100)
Corman Collins J.Bally 2000 18YO (56,8%): If you know how rare true Indy-Agricoles are you’ll know that this one is special. Nose: Nice! It’s a bit like a slightly more mature version of the full proof OB. The main difference would be that the alcohol isn’t as strong, that there is basically no glue and that it seems to be more balanced overall. Perhaps some more wood, a wee hint of sulphur, and something humid, slightly mossy in the background. Perhaps wet wood even. Then vanilla muffin and fruitcake. This one should be great. Palate: Super intense stuff and way more aromatic than the OB even. The alcohol is integrated very well and we get a magnificent mix of the vegetal (chicory, cauliflower), fruity (apple, perhaps also plum) bittersweet (caramel, muscovado) and dry (wood, cinnamon). The texture is ever so slightly a little thin if we want to be picky but additional notes of roasted coffee and cocoa more than make up for that. Finish: Medium long with muscovado sugar, wood and rotting apples. Yummy! I was afraid that this one might be too woody or bitter but that is clearly not the case at all. It is a truly great rum, plain and simple. Easily one of the best Ballys out there. (91/100)