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Rhum Agricole

Fresh sugar cane juice rhum from the French islands.


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Old 04-05-2009, 10:42 PM   #1
Hank Koestner
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Default 1979 J. Bally Rhum Agricole

Tomorrow night I will have a taste of this rhum. A friend of mine was given this rhum by a client who lived on Martinique about 4 years ago. I have the 98 and it is an excellent agricole. We all know that sometimes a Vintage year does not mean that much, what matters is the aging and distillation of the rhum in the bottle. But, we have to trust that in most cases vintages are given to rhums that are especilly good that year. Knowing the care that Martinique producers take with most of thier agricoles, I imagine this must be a good one. We are going to compare the 79 to the 98, just for fun. I remember being in St Barth's 2 years ago when I purchased the 98, and seeing a 93 and a 95 Vintage. I believe the price was around $110 for the 93, I bought the 98 for around 50.
Does anyone have any idea what the agricoles were like back then, or have any interesting info on this rhum? Ed, can you toss something in the mix?
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Old 04-06-2009, 01:15 AM   #2
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The Bally distillery closed in '89 so something from '79 would have been made at the old distillery. Bally is now contract distilled, the last distillery that I knew had the contract was the Simon distillery. Bally production moved around a bit in the 90s.

1979 was a very good year for growing sugar cane, but three years later was not a good year for selling rum. Unemployment was high and interest rates were very high in the early '80s, as you probably remember.

1979 was clearly the most popular year for vintage rums. One of the first rums to be called Millйsimй was Depaz Millйsimй 1979.
Trois Riviиres also produced a lot of rhum in 1979, some of which can still be found on Martinique.
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Old 04-06-2009, 02:52 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Edward Hamilton View Post
The Bally distillery closed in '89 so something from '79 would have been made at the old distillery. Bally is now contract distilled, the last distillery that I knew had the contract was the Simon distillery. Bally production moved around a bit in the 90s.

1979 was a very good year for growing sugar cane, but three years later was not a good year for selling rum. Unemployment was high and interest rates were very high in the early '80s, as you probably remember.

1979 was clearly the most popular year for vintage rums. One of the first rums to be called Millйsimй was Depaz Millйsimй 1979.
Trois Riviиres also produced a lot of rhum in 1979, some of which can still be found on Martinique.
Wow!

Hank, I hope this does not come across as pushy.

But, I am getting ready to take the red-eye. I'll be at your house by the morning. I demand a taste or very bad things will happen to you!
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Old 04-06-2009, 11:50 AM   #4
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With the Bally distillery going down this makes me brush off the cob webs on information that I heard once. If a distillery on martinique closes, but the brand is still being made by another co., is the original (in this case J.Bally) still stile used?
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Old 04-06-2009, 11:54 AM   #5
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actually while we are on the topic what determines a vintage year? is it determined by all the distillers who say "Man this years crop is great, vintage year!" or is it up to each individual distiller who thinks "Boy my rum is great this year, Im gonna make a vintage this year." Also is the 79 or the 98 made up of rhums blended from multiple years in said vintage year, or is an unmixed single cask?
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Old 04-10-2009, 11:45 AM   #6
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I have a bottle of the 1987 J. Bally - truly great stuff.

I can only imagine what the 1979 tastes like - how about a report on your findings, Hank!
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:15 PM   #7
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Well, I must say, this bottle of rhum was outstanding. The best way to describe it is to compare it to the 98. The 98 is an excellent agricole, smooth, with a great balance of flavors of tropical friut, honey, sugar cane and some wood notes, with just enough heat. The 79 was this, but also a rich spiciness that was not present in the 98. The color of the 79 was at least 2 to 3 shades darker than the 98, and the 79 tasted as if it was aged longer, or had some older rhum blended in. The wood was more prominent in the 79, but in perfect balance. The 79 had not much heat to speak of, and boasted a longer finish, and a heavier mouth feel. This was a special treat, as the owner of the bottle, Paul, was more than generous, as we finished 2 thirds of the bottle of 79. It was a great evening with a great rhum and great friends. We also lit up Cohiba Robustos which paired wonderfully. If I came across a bottle of the 79, I would be tempted to purchase, even at a high price.
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Old 08-31-2009, 08:49 PM   #8
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Default Martinique Revisited & Sweet Bally Dreams

Dear Hank, Ed & Agricole Rhum Lovers:

Back in the early 80's and 90's, I visited the wonderful Island of Martinique quite regularly and had the pleasure of touring a number of their distilleries from Neisson, LaMauny, St. James and Depaz to name a few. However, my favorite hands down was always Rhum Bally in Carbet. I remember the first time we drove up, we were suddenly enveloped in the intoxicating aroma of distilling rhum and the sweet scent of bouganville before we even got out of the car. What an inviting welcome to be sure. The first vintage I tasted was without question the best, perhaps the best that has ever passed these lips! A creamy luscious ambrosia-like 1970, that lingered so sweetly on the palate it swept away all sense of time or care...for seemingly hours. If I had been in less refined company, I would have put a nipple on the bottle and disappeared behind a banana tree, to dream the dream that inspired such an incredible libation. From then on it became a ritual to visit Rhum Bally at least once a trip to taste and bring home as much as we thought we could get through customs. On one trip, we managed 18 bottles, that was 3 little cases packed in our luggage as tight as corn on the cob. What a coup when we passed straight through customs at JFK! In 1987, thanks to her great grand-daughter, we had the rare pleasure of meeting Madame Bally. Already in her mid-90's, she was a most gracious host and historian of all things Bally. After a totally unexpected invite to a gourmet lunch in her company, we were left in monumental awe of a life so well defined and lived! She passed away a year or two later, and so ended an era. On my last trip to the island in 1996, I stopped by Bally for my usual supply and was offered the opportunity to purchase a bottle of 1927 from the family's private stock. It was exquisitely time-capsuled in a beautiful blue handcrafted triangular shaped carafe nestled in its own velvet-lined burl-wood chest. What a treasure! The cost, a mere $250, which I would have had to borrow at the time or not come home. Almost did, and now regret it! I would have savored every drop of that liquid gold then used the bottle to house my ashes when the day came! Such is life, to have almost loved and lost! A dozen or so years ago, I was browsing a liquor store in Greenwich, CT, and spied a bottle of 1957 Bally. Alas, to take it home would have required a second mortgage on my house. However, in the back of my liquor closet, I still have a bottle of the 1970 with about two fingers left. I occasionally open the bottle just for a whiff of my own mortality and wonder what dreams could have been it it were the 1927. Regarding getting there these days, I believe Air France has a direct flight twice a week from Montreal, otherwise it is an all-day island hopping affair. If you are on your own I would not recommend arriving at night unless someone is going to meet you because driving on that island can be a life changing or ending experience if you are not up to autobahn style meshing on some of those dark island roads which are banked but hardly infallible for the novice enthusiast. Trust me, I almost bought the farm twice and I am not blaming it on the Bally. Don't drink and drive. If the curves are too much, find a banana tree and sleep it off and just pray the tree is not the favorite resting place of a fer-de-lance, one of the most deadly vipers on the planet. Now back to more pleasant things, do plan to visit St. Pierre, my favorite town on the island and the home of Mt. Pele, the Mt, St. Helena's of the Caribbean, enough said, Google it. For a true gastronomic experience seek out my friend Chef Jean Charles Bredas at his restaurant in Marigot. Tell him I sent you and let him recommend the cuisine of the day, he will not disappoint. Until we meet at the great Bally Farm in the sky, bottoms up and bon appetit!

Regards,

Chester P. Soliz aka Sylbaris
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Old 07-07-2010, 05:00 AM   #9
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In Martinique a Vintage is decided when the cane rich a very high level potential of sugar!

I don't think Depaz did a vintage 1979 because they only did three vintage last century and the last one was 1950 (I am trying to find one but it is really complicate and really expensive 500$).

The distillery who made a 1979 and called it "millenium" is la mauny and a bottle cost about 150-200$. Never taste but some one is proposing me the bottle at 120$ I am really hesitating....

For the Bally their rums are still produced as before and they are really really good!
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Old 07-07-2010, 10:25 AM   #10
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Next year when I visit Martinique, I will be looking for these gems from Bally, and some of the harder to find agricoles, from Neisson, la favorite, Depaz.
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