We only have a smaller tasting session today but I think it should be a rather nice one as we have a slightly younger, reduced J.Bally from 2006 and the older full proof version today.
J.Bally 2006 12YO (43%): Nose: Very intense and you wouldn’t think that we are dealing with only 43% here! I get orange peel and ripe oranges, dried fruits such as apricot, dates or cranberries, soft and textile-like herbal notes (I hear you…), lavender and violets, strawberry perhaps and definitely also oak, pepper and vanilla. This is very, very good. I must admit that I didn’t expect that. After a while we also get cinnamon, cloves, rich bread and a hint of cherry. This is right up my alley! Palate: Mild, very dry and slightly bitter. The Rhum isn’t thin at all and you notice that this has been diluted over time, otherwise a texture like this doesn’t make sense to me. We get many of the spices from the notes but cannot find most of the fruity notes anymore. Instead we get more wood and tannins, cocoa and dark chocolate, peanuts, anise even, orange oils, walnut and non-sweet Tiramisu. A very mature and elegant profile, that’s for sure. It cannot keep up with the nose but I think it is still very good. Finish: Long and dry with oak, cocoa, roasting aromas and tannins. This is a very nice surprise and I must say that the Rhum is a lot better than the vast majority of the older J.Bally vintages we know. Unlike Saint James, which had it is glorious moments in the past if you ask me, it is definitely a brand that keeps getting better and better! I kinda fear that the 15YO might be a bit too woody and bitter already though, but we shall see. (87/100)
J.Bally 2006 15YO (57,5%): Not only is the base data different (older, full proof), but these are also different barrels, so we might be dealing with a totally different profile compared to the 43% version here. Nose: It is definitely more woody and bitter than the 12YO, with decidedly fewer fruity notes. Instead, we get a profile shaped by high-quality dark chocolate from São Tomé, coffee, cocoa and other related roasting aromas. After a (long) while we can add nutty notes (almonds, macadamia), a whiff of those orange bitters/ oils that we’ve found with the reduced version and a few more herbal notes. The barrel has shaped the Rhum tremendously, but it didn’t kill it. We need to taste it in order to find out how much Rhum is left over exactly. Palate: More than the nose made us think, even though it is incredibly woody! The biggest advantage is that the Rhum isn’t bitter at all, however. There are a few tannins and a relatively high astringency which almost rivals that of the legendary 1999 bottling, but that’s very nice. Ripe cherries, dark chocolate and cocoa, oak, coffee and burnt pomegrante are my main associations. I must say that this is an incredibly cool Rhum, even though it does lack a bit of the complexity that you might expect here. But boy, it just works so well and I am loving it more with every sip. What becomes quite evident over time is that the Rhum actually has quite a few very sweet notes, which matches very well with the dry, woody and spicy roasting aromas. That’s something that I only know from certain Demeraras. Finish: Long with the roasting aromas, fruity syrups and chocolate. Here and there a few herbs as well. At first I thought that it cannot keep up with the 43% version because of the missing fruity notes, but I am now convinced that this is one of the very best J.Ballys ever! (93/100)
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