Rum Review: Zaya Gran Reserva
Zaya Gran Reserva
On a recent trip to Safeway, I noticed the Zaya Gran Reserva was on sale for ~$26, so I picked up a bottle. Upon closer inspection of the bottle I noticed it shared some similarities with one of my favorite rums, Zacapa 23. First, the color was similar—just a tad lighter, but still mahogany. The name started with “Za”, and the bottle had a wrapped band of palm thatch. Could it be as good as Zacapa? Could it be better? I continued my investigation.
The Zaya bottle itself is very substantial, with about an inch of thick clear glass at the bottom of the bottle rising conically into the bottle center. The label is in a word, uninspired—especially the round label indicating its 12-year aging. But we don’t drink rums because of their labels do we? Let’s have a pour.
In the glass, the color is a slightly brighter version of what we saw in the bottle—mahogany that shines with a golden twinkle in the light. Swirling in the snifter releases multitudinous thin legs that creep back to the snifter bowl, while droplets hang around the rim.
The nose carries very little astringency, and is simply bursting with vanilla and caramel. It smells sweet like an ice cream topping. Tasting it for the first time turns the same smells into flavors, and my palate is assaulted with an overabundance of vanilla and caramel. The mouth feel is oily, but the saccharin sweetness is the dominant characteristic here.
Pardon the digression, but remember the Bizarro World from the Superman comics? You know, where everything was eerily similar to our world, but looked a bit different and was decidedly not as enjoyable? Zaya is the bizarro world Zacapa! Thanks for indulging me on that.
So in summary, Zaya flies in the face of the old adage “you can’t have too much of a good thing”. It definitely does have too much of a number of good things: too much sweetness, too much vanilla, too much caramel. And while Zaya may be the Bizarro World Zacapa 23, the rum it most closely resembles in my bar is Seven Tiki Spiced Rum fromFiji. If you’ve had both, you definitely know what I’m talking about (Seven Tiki is known for a full frontal vanilla assault).
OK, enough silliness—on to the scores:
- Appearance: 1/1
- Nose: 1.5 / 2
- Mouth feel: .5/1
- Taste: 2.5/4
- Aftertaste: .5/2
- Total: 6/10
What do you think of Zaya Gran Reserva? Do you like it? Am I crazy? Wait, don’t answer that last one, but please do share your comments below.