Rum Journal: Martinique’s J Bally Reserve de la Famille


IT’S ONE OF the world’s most famous rum bottles: J Bally’s “pyramide,” the pyramid-shaped bottle containing the dark amber-coloured rhum agricole from Martinique.

Of course, it’s also one of Martinique’s best rums, whether in the seven year or the twelve year variety.


J Bally is one of the island’s oldest rum brands, dating back to 1917, when founder Jacques Bally began aging rhum agricole in oak barrels in the area of Le Carbet in the northern portion of the island, until that distillery closed in 1989.

Today, the rhums are distilled at the St James distillery in Sainte-Marie, though much work is still done in Le Carbet.

Beyond the pyramide, though, some of J Bally’s most special bottles come in more traditional shapes, most notably the thin, narrow bottle that houses the brand’s Millesime 2000 Rhum View, a spectacular spirit in its own right.

But that one brings us to one Rum Journal hadn’t seen before, one we were lucky enough to stumble upon during a recent trip to St Martin.

It’s called J Bally Reserve de la Famille, and as the name implies, it’s a precious spirit.

It’s the classic light-amber Bally shade, with an aroma of brown sugar, caramel, licorice and apricot.

The flavour profile includes bourbon, oak, pepper, licorice, dried apricot, tobacco and the slightest whisper of orange peel.

And as you drink it, you come upon a rare thing: there is a dance here, between the rhum and the barrel; you can taste the rhum fighting to decide which note, cane or barrel, emerges victorious. It’s an interesting, playful thing to taste — like you can almost feel that line.

But this rum, which is a blend of 8-12 year-old rhums, has some serious bite, too, with a rugged, edgy finish that makes you feel that you really are drinking a closely-guarded batch from the family’s private cupboards.

This is an excellent rhum, and a must for any collector. (Outside of Martinique, St Martin/St Maarten is your best bet to obtain it).

— CJ

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