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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.
This used to be my all-time favorite sipping rum, and indeed one of my favorite spirits of any kind to drink neat.
I just picked up a bottle in the "new" packaging (different bottle, screwtop, no woven neck ring). See attached image: old packaging is on the left.
The "new" ZGR is simply awful.
Either they radically changed the blend or a terribly bad batch got out.
Shame on Zaya for screwing up what had been a world-class rum!
The old presentation was better. I would not recommend to buy this one, there's better option for $35 Rums like Don Pancho 8 years.
Zaya Gran Reserv recently changed in many aspects - Packaging, and mix. It went from a really enjoyable experience and is now a nasty tasting cheap bottle of rum.
The way I can tell the difference is the packaging - if the bottle has the real weaving, and a cork - that is the good stuff. If the bottle is a screw top with printed weaving - do not waste your money!
$36. Mediocre. This rum does not prove itself as a good sipping rum. Heavy smoked oak notes predominate, followed by a hint of vanilla. Pyrat is outstanding for sipping: I haven't found another to match Pyrat. Yet.
It's sickly sweet and oh, the vanilla! Zaya Gran Reserva used to be a bit of a guilty pleasure but the reformulation is a syrupy mess. There are so many better rums in my collection these days.
...but not great. I do understand a lot of people like this sweet toffee, but it's lacking depth and originality. Down the palate it even seems like one can taste the dilution with water, an artificial taste of vanilla and much too much sugar which must have been added afterwards and burns your esophagus. I'm not a Zacapa fan either but I'd prefer it to this one and know now why the two rums have the same supporters - candy lovers! Still you can sip it and offer it to your sweet tooth guests after dinner as dessert or pour it over the ice cream or hot wafers. Not at all worth the 50 EUR and more you have to pay in Europe. Will never buy it again!
Although i started back into rum with Zaya i had to rate this a 3. Why? Simple really. The old Zaya was better to me. The new Zaya is heavily loaded or blended with additives. It's just over the top like eating candy.
Wonderfully smooth with vanilla and sweet notes to it. A mild but well bodied flavor, which is very enjoyable to sip neat or use in a mixed drink.
**Update 1/18 - "new" formula Zaya. What a disappointment. I used to like this one a lot. Now I find it hard to even sip, as others have noted, due to it's astringent, cough syrup/vanilla extract rude-slap-in-the-palate taste it now possesses.
I'll manage to mix this in my mai-tai and it's okay to drink in a mixer, but not stand alone. I will not be buying this one again, sadly.
Cheap vanilla flavor with a lack of smoothness. Better buying Kraken.
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.
I had read such great things about this rum I have to say I was a little disappointed last night when I tried it. I get blasted with the overpowering caramel aroma and flavor. I will try it on ice to see if it has a life other than a mixing rum.
Additional review comments: After trying this 3 more times I think I either have a bad bottle or they have changed their way of creating this rum. It is not enjoyable neat, with water, rocks and I think it would not work well with Coke or any other soda. I read that the 12 of the bottle no longer refers to any age of the rum, but is letting you know that 12 different rums have been blended to create what is in the bottle.
I am not an age snob, don't care if color or sugar has been added to the rum as long as I enjoy the experience of drinking the rum. I can't say I am enjoying this one at all.
Zaya used to be a favorite of mine, smooth with a great nose and easy drinking. Now this stuff tastes like medicine and it took every bit of me not to dump it down the drain. The taste is horrible now. I would not recommend buying this anytime soon. Overly sweet and even then the sweetness is not a good sweetness.
After reading a post on the discussion board about how Zaya has become undrinkable swill under new ownership, I finally opened a bottle I had picked up last year while on vacation at what I thought was a great price of $25.
i have to say I agree 100% with the guy who made that post. This stuff basically tastes like vanilla extract. I found an unopened bottle stashed in my cellar of the old stuff with real palm leaf wrap around the neck, and though it is a sugar bomb it at least tastes good. The new stuff either has a paper wrap around the neck or a metal screw top and collar. My newer bottle has the metal, but according to the guy who wrote the post the paper wrapped bottles are terrible too.
I have heard this rum was awesome back in the days it was from Guatemala, unfortunately that was before I got interested in rum. The garbage stuff says "a blend of 12 rums" in the little round label on the bottle instead of "aged 12 years" on the older bottles. Classic bait and switch, avoid the newer bottles. I wouldn't buy this again at any price.
The first time I tried this rum I was overwhelmed. It was rich, smooth, the aroma itself was intoxicating.
It paired incredibly with a spicy, full bodied cigar as well. I swore by it and highly recommended it to rum-drinking friends, and non-rum drinkers, too.
Recently I purchased another bottle to replace my well-shared empty one. The first thing I noticed was the different label, bottle style and cork that had been replaced by a metal screw cap. They were omens of a tragedy yet to come.
The aroma is way off. Instead of the delicate and sweet smell of vanilla and coffee, it smells like artificial vanilla in a tin can. The flavor is just as disappointing. Gone is the complexity of select blended and aged rums. This is flat, almost stale tasting, and where the previous incarnation left a smooth, warm finish, the new batch just tastes cheap and amateur; think watered-down Kalhua thinned with mineral spirits stored in a beer can!
I blame myself for this bad purchase. Not only is the label design different, it is telling. The original Zaya Gran Reserva label stated "Aged 12 Years." The new label merely claims it is made from "12 selected rums." Caveat emptor.
Now I must find another spiced rum to fill the void left by a poorly but cleverly disguised imposter.
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.
For years Zaya - the 12 year old version - was my favorite and go-to rum. The scent of vanilla filled the room when the bottle was opened and the liquid went down like gold. The crap that they have replaced it with - a blend of 12 aged rums to keep the big 12 label - is an embarrassment to what was Zaya. Bait and switch.
Not far off from Zacapa (Another "Z" rum, but from a totally different place in the Caribbean), this one is almost syrupy and sweet on the rocks. I wouldn't diss it as dark Karo, but there's too much sugar in this to enjoy any natural flavors hidden here.
This rum was very disappointing to me. It seemed way to sweet and tasted of added vanilla and had no legs. I gave it to my wife for her baking needs. Rum in chocolate banana bread is good stuff.
We enjoyed the original parent of this much less deserving offspring...We are so sad. The original Zaya was from Guatemala, but due to Zaya losing out regarding distribution rights to another Solera Method rum company (which I will not mentioned, but it is way overpriced and not nearly as good as Guatemalan Zaya was), at last the demise of what Zaya truly was, a world-class rum. My husband and I have tried many many rums, and the original Guatemalan Zaya was in a class of it's own--flavor, richness, smoothness, subtle bouquet that came out all along the palate from start to finish and with a delectable balance...oh we so miss those days. Anyone here who may remember the original Zaya absolutely knows what I'm describing. Our crisis with Zaya's change began suddenly we noticed a distinct change in flavor with an unbalanced forward sweet (too sweet) and vanilla flavor, like it was artificially flavored or something. My husband also started getting headaches from it. We finally noticed the color change with the Trinidad version being darker, and also it was not nearly as smooth as the Guatemalan version. Lastly, it had a new "paraffin-ish" off-putting mouthfeel too. We stopped drinking it and then went on an exhaustive search for our beloved original Guatemalan Zaya, but everyone else who also knew about the switch had already bought out all remaining stocks; everywhere!. As luck would have it, we just happened to find a bottle of the original Zaya at a total dive liquor store. It was sitting way back on the self in it's own location without anything else around, almost like it was going to be discarded; and it had accumulated a copious amount of dust from sitting there so long. We immediately snatched it up and quickly took it home to enjoy! That was the last time we had our beloved Guatemalan Zaya...and we relished every sip! It was oh so good...We really wish Zaya would somehow be reproduced to its original glory from Guatemala.
zaya 2013 u mna top rum, ktory bol vo vsetkych smeroch to naj, proste extaza exotiky. po otvoreni flase bolo citit cherry, coko, banany a tak aj chutil. zaver bez jedineho skrabnutia, uplne jemnucky olejovy rumicek s fantastickou chutou. lenze, jedneho dna bol tento skvost nedostupny a trvalo par rokov kym som ho znova objavil. flasa aj obal mierne pozmeneny a rum vo vnutri zmeneny poriadne. aj ked pisu ze rovnaka receptura, proste za tie prachy, cca 50 € je to uplna katastrofa. nechal som ho v pohari 20 minut odstat a trosku sa vratila jemnost v zavere, ale samotna chut je nevyrazna, slaby sedy priemer. takze pozor aku flasu idete pit, na lavo nova zaya, na pravo stara.
Very smooth, not overly sweet. It tastes like its spiced though which is a slight turn-off.
Nose is heavy vanilla almost thick like a perfume
Taste isnt bad, its smooth, very thin, theres not much of a finish here. As a previous reviewer had stated " the high end of the low end" thats accurate. Smooth but not much going for it.
This is not a good rum. It can not be sipped neat. It's not even the best mixer. It tasted good mixed with vanilla cream soda. I taste artificial vanilla. I find this to be similar to Kraken although, it tastes like there is more artificial sweetness in Zaya. I hear the recipie used to be good, it's a shame they had to change it.
Review by Chris Carlsson of Spirits Review
Zaya rum review by Matt at A Jigger of Blog
Zaya Gran Reserva rum review by The Ultimate Rum Guide