Google Crazy French rums for the festive season

Serge whiskyfun
Thousands of tastings,
all the music,
all the rambligs
and all the fun


Facebook Twitter Logo
Guaranteed ad-free
copyright 2002-2017


Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

December 23, 2018


Crazy French
for the

Not that these will all be of ‘festive quality’, but since we’re in France here… We may even play a few cunning tricks, we’ll see…



Bologne ‘VO’ (41%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2017)

Bologne ‘VO’ (41%, OB, Guadeloupe, +/-2017) Three stars
Some rather young (3 to 6 yo) rhum from Basse Terre on the lovely island of La Guadeloupe. It is agricole, so distilled from cane juice and not molasses. Colour: gold. Nose: starts rather perfectly cake-y but tends to become a little metallic. Old tin box, old coins. It’s actually rather grassy and dry, but on the hand, the notes of sugar cane are well-defined. The exact opposite of a South-American ron. Mouth: totally agricole. A touch of green olive, a lot of cane juice, some liquorice, notes of overripe pineapples, and the faintest caramel. Finish: short to medium, sweet and sour as many agricoles can be, with some lime juice and fruits starting to ferment. Pineapples. The aftertaste is a little less clear. Comments: lacks a bit more power, but the distillate’s very nice and very typical. There are higher cuvées, I’m sure we’ll try them eventually.
SGP:541 - 80 points.

J. Bally 7 yo (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2018)

J. Bally 7 yo (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-2018) Four stars and a half
A very famous and well-respected line of rums. Many are vintaged but this is a large-batch blend in its trademark pyramidal bottle. Those come at many different ages, 3, 7, 12… Colour: gold. Nose: fully on ripe pineapples and bananas, but there are cigars, there is some hay, and there are quite some yellow flowers such as wallflowers, buttercups, dandelions and brooms. Gets then more caramelly, not sure that’s fully natural. Mouth: totally excellent, even rather impressive. Concentrated pineapple syrup, liquid liquorice, tobacco, perhaps one or two mushrooms, half a black olive, a perfect earthiness… Really, I’m impressed and I rather need mucho to get impressed (how gratuitous, S.!) Finish: long, perfectly olive-y and liquoricy. Excellent. An unexpected smoke in the aftertaste. Comments: not that the nose was out of this world, but the palate sure was. Impressive value for money, I would say, and I think it would please many a whisky drinker. To think that they’re not using the old Bally column at St. James anymore, and that these recent Ballys have rather poorer reputations! Not deserved!
SGP:462 - 88 points.

See, J. Bally’s still a great name! And this is the festive season, he said…

J. Bally 1924 (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-1985)

J. Bally 1924 (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-1990) Four stars
The second oldest vintage ever as far as French agricoles are concerned, after St. James 1885 - thank you Quentin. We should play trumpets and drums now, as this is the real deal, genuine Bally, pre-war distillate and all that. But we’re rather cold-hearted and you’ll see that we’ll have even rarer stuff before the end of the year. After all, this is Whiskyfun! (and?) Oh and yes, this is even ‘older’ than Macallan 1926, you know that thing that went for twelve billion American dollars (the sums are irrelevant anyway) at some auctions. And it’s not even very good, mind you. You know that I totally hate those stoopid PR stunts, don’t you. Colour: deep amber. Nose: oh the chocolaty freshness! And the earths, the old woods, the tobaccos, the baked vegetables (aubergines), the ox bone soups, the mint, the touches of camphor, the wee touches of parmesan, the leather, the old raspberry liqueurs, this walnut stain, the old cigar box… And all that. Have I mentioned high-end chocolate? Mouth: holy smokes! Impressive - albeit a bit too oaky for me - chocolaty arrival. Then salted coffee (only better than actual salted coffee), lemon curd, cigars, even more cigars, and yet more cigars. And litres of black tea, Russian style. Finish: long, rather drying I have to say. Cigars, chocolate, mint, and coffee. Mushrooms and chicken soup in the aftertaste. Comments: is it a scandal that I liked the 7 yo even better? This 1924 is very moving indeed – and hey, 1924! – but organoleptically speaking, it’s simply got a little too much oak in my humble opinion.
SGP:361 - 86 points.

Look, since we’re at Bally’s…

J. Bally 1939 (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-1970)

J. Bally 1939 (45%, OB, Martinique, agricole, +/-1975) Four stars and a half
I believe, but I could be wrong and that wouldn’t be the first time, that this 1939 from the Plantations Lajus du Carbet was bottled before the 1924. It’s not a very rare bottle, you could find it at several recent auctions in France. And the vintage is gloomy, isn’t it (any more sad remarks to make, S.?) Colour: bronze amber. Nose: it’s more on resins, or pine than the 1924, and certainly earthier. Even less fruits, more herbs, leaves, mosses, autumn leaves, menthol, eucalyptus, Vicks, other kinds of embrocations… I like this nose very much, but the overall profile is not obligatorily good news as far as the palate’s concerned. Let us check that… Mouth: no no no, wait, this is fantastic. Granted, it’s totally flawed as you wouldn’t find any bananas, or pineapples, or coconuts for that matter, and rather many soups, broths and bouillons, but if you like this resinous style as much as I do, you would be in for a treat (I know this is all too vicarious, I apologise). So dry herbal liqueurs, artichokes, chestnut honey, more chestnut honey, even more chestnut honey, and a drop of pine sap. It is, indeed, very pine-y, got to like that. Finish: long, extremely sappy, and rather sweeter this time, as if they had added some kind of secret sweeter concoction at time of bottling. Or filling, who knows? Comments: what a mad vintage, on all accounts. In any case, the rum’s excellent.
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Good, let’s forget about historical rums, and rather focus on newer French rums of high reputation…

Neisson 2012/2017 (49.2%, OB, for 4eme Salon du Rhum de Belgique, 250 bottles)

Neisson 2012/2017 (49.2%, OB, for 4eme Salon du Rhum de Belgique, 250 bottles) Four stars and a half
Don’t we have a strange feeling here? As Neisson’s clearly the Springbank of rum… (I know, a bold statement)… Colour: deep gold. Nose: excuse me, but LOL! Jerusalem artichokes, struck matches, older eggs, gas, truffles, game… This is a bit crazy, to tell you the truth, and rather sulphury in fact. Where does all this sulphur come from? With water:  good news, the sulphur is gone with the wind (almost). Wonderful whiffs of puréed and glazed chestnuts. I believe Häagen Dazs have something like that. Also stunning oranges. Mouth (neat): just perfect, just very Neisson. Chestnut honey, proper maple syrup, banana cream, roasted pecans, lime juice, and one slice of green olive. Really fat and deep, this whacky young Neisson. With water: oranges, cane juice, fresh hazelnuts, Korean plum wine. Indeed. Finish: long and a tad more banana-y. Do not ad too much water. Grapefruits, star fruits, Victoria pineapples, light caramel, tobacco. Cloves and caraway in the aftertaste. Comments: a bit raw and rough, but that’s the young age. Very well selected, Gregory and La Belgique! (that would be Belgium).
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Since our Belgians friends seem to enjoy French agricole…

Rhum J.M 18 yo 1999/2018 (44.53%, OB, for 5eme Salon du Rhum de Belgique, American oak, 245 bottles)

Rhum J.M 18 yo 1999/2018 (44.53%, OB, for 5eme Salon du Rhum de Belgique, American oak, 245 bottles) Three stars and a half
J.M. are making great rhums when they’re not doing very unlikely finishes. They all can’t help it, can they! Colour: deep gold. Nose: oh yes. Sour fruits, copper, tobacco, and tropical flowers. So mangos and maracujas, coins and kettles, pipes and cigarettes, and ylang-ylang and wallflowers (again). Yes I know wallflowers aren’t very ‘tropical’. Also whiffs of balsa and cedar wood. Mouth: starts with a lot of sour wood, then massive amounts of liquorice. Sounds odd but actually, it is all rather brilliant because balance’s been preserved, in a rather miraculous way. It’s pure magic that this much oak still works, and that you don’t even have the feeling of ‘sucking your pencil’. Mangos and guavas, pineapples, pine sticks, cedar wood indeed, cinnamon, more cinnamon, even more cinnamon, all the cinnamon of the creation… But oranges save it all, oranges do save many spirits! Gotta love oranges… Finish: long, with that feeling of eating both your Faber-Castell and your Cohiba. But once again, oranges and mangos are dashing to the rescue. Comments: it was touch and go there for a moment, but the perfect spirit managed to save this ‘old’ agricole. A very intriguing bottle nonetheless.
SGP:661 - 84 points.

(Merci beaucoup Vincent!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all rums we've tasted so far






Whiskyfun's Home