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Rum Review: Zaya Gran Reserva 12 Year Rum (Trinidad)

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How do you rate Zaya Gran Reserve Rum - Trinidad (five is best)?
 20%  [ 1 ]
 60%  [ 3 ]
 20%  [ 1 ]
 0%  [ 0 ]
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 5

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot

Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3499
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2008 1:02 pm    Post subject: Rum Review: Zaya Gran Reserva 12 Year Rum (Trinidad) Reply with quote

Zaya Gran Reserva 12 Year Rum (Trinidad): "Hot Black Cherries"

It has gotten to the point that there are almost no rums on my wait-to-taste list. Of course any foole - and I am surely one - has heard of Zaya Gran Reserva; indeed, there is more than one reviewer (eg Bilgemunky) who prefers it to the overrated Zacapa 23.

So why has it taken this long for us to get to Zaya?

Quite simple: when it became known that Zaya (Guatemala) had been discontinued, the prices went way up and frankly, I saw little need to review a rum that was discontinued. But then Zaya moved to Trinidad and continued its production in conjunction with Angostura. Since I never tasted the original, let's hear from RnD:

Whereas the original Guatemala Zaya was sweet with complex flavors beginning with the initial taste, developing into a delicate body and light finish, the Trinidad Zaya brings paraffin to the tongue, with a fuller body and more viscous, slightly petroleum finish.

I finally spotted a bottle of the new Zaya (Trinidad)- a full liter I might add - for just $29, and couldn't wait to bring it home. We'd been disappointed with the Z-23 and just had to know how the new Zaya would measure up. Without giving away the results, let me say that this rum was one of the very first where Sue Sea and I had some real disagreement. The reviews:

Sue Sea:

My first impression of Zaya Trinidad was a good one. Presentation is very important to me and Zaya doesn't disappoint. The bottle is massive, strong and thick, with the neck wrapped tightly with finely woven palm. Classic and classy. The bottle has a deep, classic indent and is slightly tapered. The label is a vertical strong "Zaya" in gold script over black. All proclaiming a quality product.

Sadly I was not all that impressed. The aroma is terrific: a very sweet, syrupy aroma, with a sweet toasted nut like almond, caramel, and something akin to a candy bar or truffle. There is a light, light background of reed. Airing releases more reed and bit of leather or furniture polish.

Now if only this aroma carried forward to the taste. It did not. The early palate was heat, with sweetness only emerging in the mid-palate in the form of a near black cherry. Almost cough syrupy, along with a light caramel. At the end palate, the heat reemerges for a short, warm, lip coating finish. Disappointing.

What do I say about Zaya? Personally, I feel this rum is all about the aroma. The mid-palate is inconsistent - and more than a little disappointing. Zaya is not very complex, and sipping it is a very simple experience. But Jimbo disagreed.


I must admit I'd already had a few drams of Zaya before Sue Sea got to the party, er tasting. And I was really digging it. More later, but let's get to Zaya's aroma: a very, very thick and pungent and robust sweetness. Powerfully sweet, with vanilla and caramel. This is definitely a flavored rum and its deep, wispy mahogany color is no surprise. Swirling it also reveals confirming and thick, thick, heavy syrupy legs. From the very first kiss of this rum your lips, mouth and throat are coated with a hot, syrupy sweetness.

The early palate is smooth, glycerous, coating and hot. Oddly, Zaya greets you with a slick coolness which grows warm and hot (but nicely). There is an early astringency, which seems to diminish - or has the heat taken over? Perhaps both. I find the finish on the shorter side, but Zaya left me with a lasting, chest warming astringent heat and sweetness.

Zaya is a hot mama - and I really liked her! My friend the Bilgemunkey too caught this sweet - hot juxtaposition:

Bilge: Upon removing the cork, the rum itself smells heavy and sweet, and tastes the same. It's full of contradiction, weighty and aloof, yet surprisingly forward.

It's kind of like meeting a dusky tribal queen dressed from head to toe in rich silks and golden feathers, and when you reach out to politely kiss her hand she instead sits on your lap and liplocks you in front of your bewildered crew. Yeah - something like that.

Projecting a sensation that's massive yet graceful, this rum receives full marks. Each sip is soothing, warm, shivers straight down the spine, and leaves behind a feeling that now would be a fine time to die happy.

I never really got his review until I actually tasted Zaya. Yes, Sue Sea and I finally disagreed on a rum. As she said, "I like great sipping rums, and this is not one. As for it being a dessert rum, there are many I like better, like Brinley's Coffee".

I understand that, and to a point I can agree. Zaya Trinidad is not a sipping rum. But it is a good deal more than a simple, sweet dessert rum. In fact, it almost stands alone in its own special category.

Rating (10 is best): Sue Sea - 6, Me - solid 8.

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Joined: 14 Apr 2016
Posts: 13
Location: Dublin, Ireland

PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can see both your and Sue's point and am kinda stuck in between (I actually rated it a 7).
Its very sweet and easy to drink, would not consider it a high end rum, but it has its place.

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Joined: 08 Dec 2017
Posts: 5
Location: Tennessee

PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:05 pm    Post subject: Vanilla city Reply with quote

Hope I don't get this one twice 'cause somehow I lost my previous post. This one smells strongly of vanilla, so if that is a problem, then skip it. For the rest of us, pour it over some ice, sip, and say "Aaaahhhh!"
Seek not to follow in the steps of the wise man. Seek what he sought.
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Rum Warrior

Joined: 11 May 2017
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was the first bottle of rum that I spent more than $20 on.

I felt like a big shot.

It was enjoyable, and easy to drink.

To show where my taste was at the time, I also bought Mt Gay Eclipse for the first time, and it seemed a little harsh to me in comparison.

In hindsight, I would not buy Zaya again. There are other options at that price that seem more interesting to me. Even beginners could find better options at that price or even cheaper.

But... if you gave me a glass, I would drink it.
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