Zaya Gran Reserva - Guatemala (Discontinued)

Zaya Guatemala

Product of:  Guatemala
Aged: 12 Years or more
Price: $33
 40% ABV
Premium Aged Rum
RG Rating:  9

Tasting Notes
The Zaya rum from Guatelama shows a deep brown color from extensive aging in a variety of oak casks. Aromas include considerable brown sugar and caramel sweetness, vanilla, a slight waxy texture, considerable tropical fruit and spice. The body is decidedly heavyweight, which serves to transport the sweet complex flavors across your palate, before finishing long and sweet.

In the first half of 2008,  the distribution of rums produced by Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala was assumed by Diageo.  Local brands, such Zacapa, were prioritized.  Hence, Zaya was forced to move production to the Angostura Distillery in Trinindad.  The move gave me an opportunity to perform a side-by-side tasting the two versions.  SInce Guatemalan rums are often some of the smoothest available; but contrast in style with Angostura’s excellent rums, such as 1919 and 1824, which are heavy on oak, caramel, and paraffin, with an oily finish, I was curious to taste the old against the new.

Sure enough, the Zaya from Trinidad exhibits distinct vanilla and paraffin aroma, but to nowhere near the extent of Angostura’s 1919 and 1824, and less sweet on the nose, and just slightly darker in color than the Guatemala version.  Initial tastes.  The differences in aroma carry through to the initial taste, body and finish.  Whereas the original Guatemala Zaya was sweet with complex flavors beginning with the initial taste, developing into a delicate body and light finish, the Trinidad Zaya brings paraffin to the tongue, with a fuller body and more viscous, slightly petroleum finish.  

Packaging of the two versions is nearly identical, with a few unobtrusive changes to help you determine which version you are holding.  The bottle with it attractive leaf-wrapped neck and cork stopper are the same as before, but is now sealed with a sticker that reads: “Trinidad Production”.  The labels are slightly modified as well.  The small circular crest that used to show an pre-Columbian native central American mask is now replaced with a coat of arms containing a Scarlet Ibis and two sea horses.  At the very bottom of the main label, the words: Imported Rum from Guatemala” have been replaced by “Imported Rum from Trinidad”.

Opinion Zaya Gran Reserva (Guatemala) was certainly and positively influenced by the expertise behind Zacapa’s delicious rums - the aromas and flavors bear ample witness to their common lineage, as do the rums of Botran.  And now just as certainly, Angostura has influenced the flavors in the new Zaya Gran Reserva (Trinidad).  Of course you ask: ‘Which Zaya is better - the discontinued Guatemala or the current Trinidad version?’  I avoid such comparisons, since so much of your individual taste preference has to do with mood, location, timing and other emotional things.   It’s a moot point really, since the original Zaya from Guatemala, gone forever, exiled to Trinidad.  Instead, I reply: “If you can find the old Zaya, buy it”. 

Reviewed:  November 2008 at the Rum Gallery, USA.

© Dave Russell 2017