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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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Vanilla flavor is too dominant for my tastes. Very smooth and very little after burn. A pretty good sipper.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
The vanilla flavor is very strong and also the caramel but the taste is good.
Great experience to taste this Zaya rum.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Artificial vanilla, the rest was quite thin considering it is 12 year.
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
I enjoyed this rum at Myrtle Beach!
Drank a fifth just chilled.
South Point Resort, going back in June hope to pick up another bottle!
Last years wicker neck version is no longer available so when I see it I buy it. It is noticeably more smooth and richer flavor to the nose and mouth than the newer version. The bottle design and label are totally different.
It is hard to believe that this product came out, it was pretty damned good, dark colored, sweet no doubt, but it had some character, something stuck in my mouth while warming my throat. I’ll admit it, I loved the stuff! Great price, nice taste, versatile it was the beginning of a great relationship..... Then something happened and wham-o, it changed overnight! WTF?!! The new bottle is, I won’t say crap, I’ll just say not for me. I gave my bottle to a friend who didn’t know better!( Sorry Mike) I do have 3/4 of an old bottle left, like pictures of a hot old girlfriend. I loved the old vanilla Carmel twist, made my rum and cokes sing in the glass. The new stuff has a taste that I can’t stand,I don’t know what it is, it just pisses me off that it isn’t the SOS. There’s no going back, that’s what I’ve learned, the old Zaya would have ranked higher, but the new Zaya might even be lower. I split the middle. Be on the look out for the woven top and cork stopper, it will be a collectors item soon if it already isn’t.
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