zaya rumZaya Gran Reserva is a 12-year old rum distilled in Trinidad and Tobago.  It’s a blend of rums that have been aged at least 12 years in used bourbon barrels, and then blended together to create the finished spirit.

Drinkers often compare Zaya Gran Reserva to Ron Zacapa 23 (Zaya was formerly distilled in Guatemala by the same company that produces Ron Zacapa), which is a compliment to Zaya, as Zacapa is a great sipping rum.  While both good, they have some noticeable differences.  Zaya has more pronounced vanilla and caramel notes and has a spicier finish, while Zacapa 23 is a bit sweeter and has some floral notes. They’re both very good, but different.  Now onto the details:

In the glass, Zaya Gran Reserva has a deep mahogany hue with touches of gold.  On the nose you’ll find deep vanilla and caramel, plus sweet brown sugar and some molasses.  Sniff closely and you might pick up hints of cocoa.

The first taste is sweet vanilla and caramel, with some honey, and you’re reminded that Zaya, like many aged rums, spent time in bourbon casks.  There are some light flavors of fruit behind the pervasive vanilla.  On the palate it’s full-bodied and velvety.  The rum coats your tongue, doesn’t burn at all and finishes smoothly.

While perfectly competent as a sipping rum, and marketed as such, Zaya Gran Reserva can hold its own in a cocktail, especially those calling for an aged rum.  Aged rums can also work well in traditional whiskey drinks, like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan, if you’re so inclined.

Zaya Manhattan

1 1/2 oz Zaya Gran Reserva Rum
1/2 oz Carpano Antica
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass.

Zaya Gran Reserva is a fine rum.  It’s very sweet, with intense vanilla and caramel flavors, but I still enjoy it on its own in a snifter.  Regardless of your usage preferences, for the modest price of about $30, it’s a solid addition to your booze collection.

— 40% Alcohol by Volume
— $30

CE Rating: ★★★


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  • Zaya says:

    I bought the Zaya 12 for $26 in a gift pack with 2 free snifters. It is very sweet and verges on a liqueur like Amaretto, which is not at all what I was expecting. The store also sells Abuelo 7 for the same price (but without snifters), which I also bought and which I would recommend as a good rum. If you want a sweet, rum-like liqueur then Zaya 12 might be your thing.

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