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Zaya Gran Reserva 12-Year rum

Zaya Gran Reserva Rum is a blend of rums distilled from molasses in a five column still, the rums are aged in white oak barrels for a up to 12 years.

Zaya rum was initially distilled by Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala in Guatemala. The brand was acquired in 2008 by Infinium Spirits and is now produced in Trinidad and distilled by Angostura.

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548 Zaya Gran Reserva 12-Year ratings

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Posted about 5 years ago by Earl Elliott from Canada with 190 ratings

Sugar: 20 gpl. Lot's of reviewers liked this rum, but I did not finish the bottle I purchased while on vacation. It's a smooth rum with a nice finish but the Vanilla aroma and flavor dominates it from start to finish. I tried it on ice and in mixed drinks but could not come to liking it enough to finish the bottle or to even think of adding it to my collection. I would not buy this rum as there are better rums in this price range.

Posted over 5 years ago by Michael Shell from United States with 4 ratings

This was a quite wonderful dram. The vanilla sweetness hit my taste buds first but didn't overpower a complex, bitter, chocolate nuttiness at all. Long and pleasant finish. Sip this neat and appreciate the craft!

Posted almost 6 years ago by Rick from United States with 5 ratings

A must have in your collection a golden to copper brown color nice vanilla scent nice barrel flavors with vanilla tones with a smooth finish.

Posted about 6 years ago by Tikihead from United States with 23 ratings

Vanilla flavor is too dominant for my tastes. Very smooth and very little after burn. A pretty good sipper.

Posted over 1 year ago by btmcsweeney from United States with 1 rating

All reviews from before 2016 should be ignored - this is now a distinctly different and much lower quality rum than it was previously.

The original Zaya was the rum that got me into sipping rums. Every time I finished a bottle I would get a new one. It was fairly sweet with a taste of vanilla and caramel. If you can still find a bottle where the label has cursive writing on it and there's a wicker sleeve on the neck, buy it.

At first when the logo changed, I was skeptical. The font change on the label wasn't bad, but the sticker that used to proudly proclaim "Aged 12 Years" now read "Blend of 12 selected rums". The neck was no longer covered in wicker and the cork had been replaced with a screw off cap. The taste is *very* different. It still has flavors of vanilla and caramel, but they aren't as rich as they used to be. The rum doesn't taste aged at all, as the change from 12 years to 12 rums suggests. It's still good as a mixing rum, but I wouldn't suggest it for sipping.

Posted almost 2 years ago by Bill from United States with 1 rating

Be aware: I'm rating the new version of Zaya rum. The aroma has an intensely chemical vanilla nature with an unpleasant overtone of aftershave. The taste is consistent with the aroma, and is cloyingly, sickly sweet. I like vanilla, but not this artifica, chemical-tasting vanilla. This product is truly horrible. You may think I'm exaggerating or being overly dramatic, but no. With absolute sincerity, I can tell you, this product is truly horrible.

Posted over 2 years ago by Jim Barker from United States with 1 rating

This was purchased in hopes there was some potential. Nope, this is not worth 1/3 of its cost. Had hoped it would be a zacapa or flor de Cana. I'd rank it at a Castillo level. Very disappointed! This is not 12 yr rum. It is a blend of 12 rums.....don't bother.

Posted almost 3 years ago by Vin from United States with 12 ratings

Pretty bottle, but this isn't aged 12. You can definitely tell they've artificially enhanced this to taste like a 12. Strong Vanilla Extract with a end that has a flavor of dates but with a cough syrupy finish. It is smooth tho, definitely drinkable by itself..

But I would not buy this again. I kept mine in the freezer to try and tone down that artificial taste so I could finish it.

Posted over 3 years ago by Russell from United States with 25 ratings

Zaya needs 2 different rating sites. wish I had bought multible bottles of the original ( a 9 rating) The new Zaya GR is just bad only give it a 3. If any body knows what happened (beverage insider) would like to know. I resampled this is better than thought at time!

Posted over 3 years ago by piratejabez from United States with 314 ratings

Update (3/2018):
Got to try one of the older bottles with grass around the neck and the script-style logo. Just how I remembered it—vanilla, coconut, banana, sweet. Even this version wasn't good, though it was an eye-oper to me as my first "sipping" spirit.

Update: (4/2017):
Wow, having been paying closer attention to retail prices for this bottle of late, they really seem to have plummeted. It's not unusual to see it going for $23USD. I think that's commensurate with what's inside the bottle—or, at least, what we know is inside the bottle, which is very little. This tells me that the makers are capitalizing on the brand reputation they've worked to establish over the year, have drastically reduced production costs (presumably with a blend of younger/inferior rums), and are now going after a (much) larger, lower-end market segment.

And it should do well there. I think for many this bottle would still be a huge step up for their rum game, but it's still just a rung on the ladder; a reference point; nothing to stick with. At the expense of exactly one "I'll drink to that!" I'm letting go of some of the sentimentality I have for this vanilla-banana liqueur and docking it one point.

Update (12/2016):
Yes, the packaging has changed, and not for the better. What's inside is still very good, but not quite as smooth or flavorful as the previous incarnation. I do think it's still a decent value, if you can find it in the USD $30–35 range (I've seen it online for much higher). If you're a fan of the "old" version, now's the time to track down the remaining bottles! And if you have your doubts about the new one, might be time to spring for something a little higher. Cheers!

Original (~2011):
This was the first sipping rum I ever tried, long before I was even a novitiate. I had no expectations. Imagine my surprise when I first smelled the banana, vanilla and caramel. The flavor profiles in this rum are very distinct, and can easily transport you to another place. (Perhaps this contributes—along with good old-fashioned marketing—to such a wide price range for this product, compared to other aged rums.) In the mouth, it's sweet, and oh-so-smooth.

The bottle is nice and heavy, with a straw lattice around the neck [edit: womp, womp...]. Looks good on the shelf (if the shelf is tall enough) and feels good in the hand.

I'd rate it higher if I were a bigger fan of vanilla and banana aromas (which I think most people are), but still, it's a solid bottle.

Posted over 3 years ago by Doug Cook from United States with 1 rating

Bought a bottle of Zaya rum at BevMo only to find that it has changed:
No cork - now a scew top
No twine on neck - now a label
Rum has changed - now a so so rum - Not worth the price

Zaya used to be my go to rum - Now I'm no longer a customer!

Posted over 4 years ago by Tommy from United States with 12 ratings

The added sugars - and probably coloring - massacre what seems to be a decent rum hiding in the cellar from the onslaught. My diabetic friend loves it, but I feel guilty about killing him and so, will not purchase another bottle merely to transfer to him. Doorly's XO, for example, is three times the rum at 1/2 the price. I will go out of my way to avoid sipping this again.

Posted over 4 years ago by Beukeboom from United States with 305 ratings

Vanilla and caramel aromas permeate this in the snifter. Hints of major sweetness.

And the flavor bears that out. Very sweet (sugar added?) along with that overabundance of vanilla and caramel flavors...a little toffee, too...not too much of a burn but when that fades you are back with the vanilla and caramel. Especially the vanilla.

This might be a tad too sweet even for fans of sweet rums but who knows. It is not a bad rum but seems to go overboard on the sweet vanilla flavors. I don't see this working as well with either colas or fruit-based drinks unless you're into sweetness. Seems to be a cheaper cousin to Zacapa.

My recommendation: pass on this if Zacapa or something better is available (like El Dorado or Dictador for instance). However if it's down to this or Capt. Morgan/Bacardi/Malibu then pick this up).

Posted almost 5 years ago by Ni Stu from United States with 1 rating

New bottles are not very good, although last year's bottling is fine. New ones taste like alcohol with imitation caramel flavor added. Doesn't taste like a legitimate aged rum.

Posted about 5 years ago by Marc Cardinal from Belgium with 401 ratings

The vanilla flavor is very strong and also the caramel but the taste is good.
Great experience to taste this Zaya rum.

Posted almost 6 years ago by Lars Stougaard from Denmark with 1 rating

I was looking forward to try Zaya 12 after reading the good impressions on this site and other, so I choose to buy a bottle instead of Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva that I know and love. Must say Zaya is a very smooth rum, but I´m real disappointed that a rum costing around 80 $, here in Denmark, doesn´t have more to offer. I tasted it up against my Plantation 20 Anniversario, Eldorado 12 and Millonario 15 Reserva Especial, where Plantaion cost the same and the two other are cheaper. They all 3 have fine complexity and the afterburn is good compared to zaya 12 that almost has none other than a sweet taste. Maybe zaya is cheaper else where in the world or they have cut down quality to fulfill demands. To me Zaya 12 is sweet, smooth, anonymous and way to expensive. I will buy good old Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva next time, that´s for sure.

Posted about 7 years ago by Dustin Doran from United States with 79 ratings

Zaya is a rum I love to go to when I want richness with a hint of spice and nothing more. Not much complexity but still a great rum on it's own. In cocktails the strength and taste holds up but without complexity it becomes just a backbone.

Posted 10 days ago by evil-G-nius from United States with 6 ratings

I love Zaya...always have. It was an awesome experiencce when I first had it and I was blown away. That was when it was still produced in Guatemala. After the move to Trinidad, the formula changed and the luster that once was left. Don't get me wrong, this is still an excellent rum but in contrast from where they started its a little less stellar. Its still smooth, sweet and very light on the boozy finish. Still has a nice level of vanilla and spice notes which warm and inviting any day of the week

Posted 4 months ago by darren from Canada with 8 ratings

Well it has suffered some degradation with ownership making poor choices...

Posted 8 months ago by Mujuru from United States with 35 ratings

This review is for the old formula which they have apparently changed - and unfortunately not for the better. The old formula comes in a bottle with a woven wicker sleeve, cursive writing, and a cork top. So if you find a bottle of Zaya with a wicker sleeve, get it; if it doesn’t have the wicker sleeve pass it over for now. This was my favorite rum until I tried Plantation XO. If you didn’t know any better and picked up a glass of this blindfolded you could be forgiven for thinking you were drinking a smoother more subtle version of vanilla cherry coke with a hint of oak. My only issue with it is the finish. Towards the end of a glass it leaves a slight pucker but it otherwise an outstanding rum. I have heard the new formula is not nearly as good and is overly sweet. This review is for the original formula which Zaya should return to, hopefully.

*Post edit: I tried the new variation and it is definitely sweeter but not overly so. I still find it delightful. The new variation I would rate a solid 7.9. Only slightly too sweet to be an 8 but still leagues better than most rums.

Posted about 1 year ago by Alex from United States with 7 ratings

After opening the bottle, I was immediately assaulted by a strong smell of imitation vanilla extract. My wife was observing and immediately asked " Do I need to go and buy something else?" without me even saying a word. Despite my better judgement, I poured a taste. The first thought that came to mind was "Why did I put this in my mouth?" I struggled through another sip. I did get the lightest hint of oak, but then an annoying astringency on the back of the tongue. This is now going to my mixer well.

Posted over 1 year ago by Mickcollins1916 from United States with 14 ratings

I hear this used to be a great rum. Sadly, I never got to drink that rum. The Zaya I had wasn’t overly sweet but did have a fake sweetness about it. It has a rough finish and an alcohol burn that I wouldn’t expect in a 12 year rum. That finish makes this a terrible sipper. The fake sweetness contrasts poorly with sweet mixers like colas. It is particularly delicious in black coffee, where the strength of the coffee covers the imperfections in the finish and the sweetness of the rum provides a nice balanced sweetener to the coffee.

That being said, this is too expensive to be a 1-trick pony and I don’t expect I’ll buy it again unless I hear rumors that the old blend is back.

Posted over 1 year ago by 5xo from Slovakia with 237 ratings

Artificial vanilla, the rest was quite thin considering it is 12 year.

Posted almost 2 years ago by don from Canada with 11 ratings

Used to be good, was twelve years old now a blend of twelve different Rums. Same premium price. If you like this jut go to you local gas station and fill up a jerrycan it will taste better