Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Fall of Zaya Rum

Zaya Gran Reserva at Rumba

It’s uncommon, for this web site, that an article casts a rum into such a disheartening (and now maybe sobering) gentle as this one. Do not worry pricey readers, our Mission nonetheless stands sturdy. Nevertheless, there are occasions when steadiness and difficult love is required. It is not with out a little bit of disappointment that I declare Zaya Gran Reserva to be this rum. I can hear many rum lovers’ responses now; “WAIT, WHAT!? Are you speaking about the identical Zaya Rum that I sipped years in the past. The Zaya that opened my eyes and people of my associates to world of rum and the way good sipping rums could be?” Effectively, in case you are pondering one thing like this too, here’s what I might say to you:

Sure, identical Zaya Rum, however…

 Have you tasted it just lately? 

No, I am Not Speaking About…. Imported Rum from Guatemala

Let’s be clear, this text IS NOT speaking in regards to the variations between the Zaya Rum produced and bottled in Guatemala pre-2008 and the Zaya Rum from Trinidad. Now for a fast step again in rum historical past. Within the early a part of 2008, Diageo realized the worth of a sure rum and, no surprises right here, they purchased it. That Rum was the beautiful Ron Zacapa. Guess that title sounds acquainted, eh? Zaya Rum, together with Ron Botran, have been additionally being produced below the identical roof by Industrias Licoreras de Guatemala. On the time, Diageo’s acquisition created an unfavorable state of affairs for Zaya Rum manufacturing attributable to its similarities with Zacapa; each required a provide of restricted aged rum shares and each competed for roughly the identical market share; wealthy, complicated, sweeter type sipping rums. Therefore, the model was moved to Trinidad the place it has been produced ever since. What this text IS speaking about are the variations noticed in Zaya Rum from Trinidad over the previous few years.

A Rum’s Mix Could Change a Bit Over Time or….Metamorphosize 

Everybody with any frequent sense knew that Zaya Rum would doubtless style a bit completely different after manufacturing moved from Guatemala to Trinidad. In actual fact, some thought it would really enhance! Think about its new location, Trinidad Distillers Ltd., the distillery that makes Angostura Rum, probably the greatest rum manufacturers on the earth. Okay, so Trinidad makes GREAT rum; however they’ve their attribute type and that differs from Guatemala. Actually it takes a whole lot of talent to provide you with a mix of rums, utilizing completely different molasses and water, completely different stills, barrels, local weather, and many others. for every rum, to scent and style the identical, proper? Plus, contemplate that they most likely did not transport a enough provide (if any) of the aged rums shares from Guatemala crucial within the mix to hold them over for one more 12 years. So how did they do it? Effectively, when the primary bottles of Zaya Rum from Trinidad got here out, there have been much more similarities in aroma and flavors to its Guatemalan model than variations. Vanilla and caramel have been a bit extra dominant within the aromas and taste, however in any other case, it nonetheless maintained a lot of its complexity, mouth really feel and fulfilling end. Do not get me incorrect, it was not the identical rum. That said, in case you ask me, Carol Homer did a fairly rattling good job with the brand new mix. What many individuals did not anticipate was that Zaya Rum made in Trinidad would proceed to alter. Additional, that new rum from Trinidad would change a lot, that to some seasoned palates, it grew to become unrecognizable to the Zaya Rum they’d as soon as liked.

It is Fall From Grace….and the Cabinets of Rumba

Zaya’s fall from grace is not meant to be interpreted actually, until it occurs to be at Rumba, probably the greatest rum-oriented bars within the nation. Jim Romdall, their gifted bar supervisor, not solely boasts about their 400+ rums in inventory however can present you the way and what do with them. Backside’s up! Extra just lately Rumba is confronted with busier nights and restricted shelf area and deciding on new rums for his or her coveted “Wall of Rum” has grow to be difficult. Jim introduced to me he was pulling Zaya off Rumba’s cabinets after he had a style of the newest iteration of Zaya Rum. I went down to talk with Jim and after tasting and speaking extra, he admitted cold-sober, “If somebody asks for it, I might suggest a distinct rum. If I’ve a bottle on our shelf that I can not suggest [anymore], then I should not have it on our cabinets.” His phrases ring true from a enterprise standpoint and from somebody who liked what Zaya Rum as soon as was and why it meant a lot to so many rum fans. It was a gateway rum for many individuals who solely knew rum to be Bacardi and Captain Morgan. Rumba, it’s possible you’ll know in case you’d had the pleasure, is full of a lot respect and rumlove, and now, will not serve Zaya Rum. Let me repeat, Rumba goes to take away a luxurious “sipping” rum from its shelf as a result of they’ll not suggest it based mostly off high quality. That is saying one thing. Though, to be honest, there are many different rums which have modified for the more severe over time that I will not point out right here. So why make an instance out of Zaya? Maybe it’s the gross distinction between the standard perceived and/or anticipated of this rum, what it has grow to be and the bartender’s frustration on reconciling this disconnect with every patron of the bar. Whatever the cause, the reality is troublesome to swallow (pun meant) and now they’ve spared you that shock at Rumba.

What Occurred to My Zaya….and By the Means, You Forgot to Take Off the Petate!!

So simply what occurred to Zaya Rum from Trinidad?  A fast search signifies, that after the Guatemalan model obtained a “Double Gold” from the respectable 2007 San Francisco Spirits Competitors, there aren’t any such comparable “awards” for the Trinidad model to be discovered. This can be merely defined by whether or not or not it was entered into any competitions. Skilled rum critiques additionally give some indication of modifications witnessed. For instance, well-respected rum advocates, akin to Dave Russell was one of many first to submit a proper comparative assessment of the Guatemalan and Trinidad variations on Rum Gallery in late 2008. He signifies refined modifications and their underlying explanations when factoring in working information of a few of traits of Angostura’s aged rums. Good! Then, one other well-written and balanced assessment of the Zaya from Trinidad got here out in 2010, from Matthew “RumDood” Robold. He precisely famous, “Its intense vanilla and caramel flavors can both be very welcome or entirely-putting off relying in your palate”. Even by the tip of 2012, The Rum Howler, Chip Dykstra, present in his assessment that Zaya Rum from Trinidad, “lacked steadiness as a result of overabundance of vanilla”. Regardless of its noticeably sweeter and unbalanced aromas and style, every assessment famous a point of complexity and character present in an aged rum. So what has occurred since between 2013-2015? Bottle modifications occurred and so did the mix.

It is Not You, Zaya Rum….It is Me

After talking with Jim and having some private concern this new discovering was a batch situation, I went out to buy a number of bottles at completely different liquor shops within the Seattle space. I additionally occurred to have a bottle from 2010, earlier than they modified the sticker on its crest to learn “Producers of World’s Best Luxurious Rum – Aged 12 years” and embossed “Zaya” into its facet. It’s price noting that modifications in bottle design have lengthy been related to modifications to the contents inside. I tasted every of the 2015 iterations facet by facet with its earlier counterpart. I even introduced out a Guatemalan model from 2008. The Zaya Rum from Trinidad has modified over time with out query. I am not attempting to grasp why they name this a Hand Chosen Spirit, however why it has modified. Furthermore, with out transparency by the model of such modifications, it’s arguably perceived as deception. However I am going to admit, I am no Rum Knowledgeable. Zaya Rum as we speak gives a intense sweet like sweetness and ripe vanilla and caramel aromas with subdued baking spices and cocoa giving the impression you might be smelling a spiced rum, not a sipping rum. Kilo Kai anybody? I observe sturdy butterfinger candybar aroma. I am sorry Infinium Spirits, I simply do not like that a lot added sugar and flavors. The preliminary flavors that when developed in direction of the end are extra heated and hole within the 2015 model, quickly fading by mid-palate; the lengthy complicated end, now largely empty, providing a extra astringent mouth really feel as some lingering fusel alcohol and petroleum distillate like flavors come collectively to disclose cough syrup notes paying homage to Vicks Formulation 44. I am sorry Infinium Spirits, I simply want honesty to the declare that that is nonetheless a mix of 3-5 rums every aged a minimal of 12 years. 

“Be extra involved along with your character than your repute, as a result of your character is what you actually are, whereas your repute is merely what others assume you might be.”
John Wood

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