Category: Rum

Zaya Gran Reserva

ZayaRating: ♦♦♦♦♦

Zaya just might be my favorite rum of all time.  We have had a long history together filled with happiness and anger (when it was stolen from me).  I happened upon this while working in Philadelphia, and after I tasted it, knew I had to get a bottle of my own.  The company moved about a year ago from Guatemala to Trinidad which explains why there was a shortage for a few months, but it’s back, and now apparently has a slightly different recipe.  Same great product, different taste.  This review will be on the newer Trinidad Zaya Gran Reserva.

This is a dark rum.  One of the darkest I’ve seen.  When uncorked (yes, it has a cork), you immediately smell the sugar.  Zaya is made from 100% sugarcane which is why it is on the sweeter end of rums.  The color is a beautiful mahogany that contrasts nicely with the palm that is wrapped around the neck of the bottle.  Pouring it into a rocks glass, I was able to release a lot of the aromas that are trapped in the bottle.  Hints of raisins and wood are almost overpowered by the strong smell of molasses.  Taste-wise, Zaya is heavy and a little complex.  It leaves the mouth feeling warm while the tastes of toffee and caramel appear.  The finish is long and spicey with very little “burn” on the way down.  Adding ice changes things a bit here.  Due to the introduction of water, the taste becomes a little less complex and the spicy finish drops off quite a bit.  The finish as a whole is a lot shorter and the slight burn from before is almost non-existent.

I picked this up for $39.99 at Total Wines & More in Delaware off of I-95: 691 Naamans Road, Claymont DE 19703

Malibu vs Cruzan

One thing I notice when I go shopping for liquor is that there is multiple choices when it comes to many different things, specifically flavors.  That being said, I have never seen a more heated battle than between Malibu Coconut Rum and Cruzan Coconut Rum.  I equate this battle to that of buying a computer.  A lot of people go out and purchase based on brand name (ie Apple, Dell, and HP), but don’t research it or compare the specs before they buy.  This is equally true here as Malibu is usually the brand bought, in my observations, from sheer lack of knowledge of anything else that may or may not be better.

When comparing the two just by the bottle, each has a fancy decorative scheme.  The Malibu bottle is its trademark white with a picture of a sunset on the beach.  This clearly depicts a scene someone would see in Malibu.  The stats on the bottle say that this bottle holds 21% abv (alcohol by volume) or 42 Proof, and costs between $14.99-15.99 in the tri-state area.  Cruzan on the other hand has an opaque bottle with a different color stripe depending on the flavor; blue is for coconut.  On the bottle it reads %27.5 abv or 55 Proof, and sells for $12.99-14.99 in the tri-state area.  Based on these stats, I’d say Cruzan is definitely the way to go when shopping, but one question still remains: which tastes better?

Starting with the Malibu, I found that there was little coconut smell and little alcohol smell.  On the way down, the taste of fake, buttery coconut hits the taste buds and goes down with little, if any burn.  This is probably attributed to the low alcohol content.  I know that flavored things are usually meant for mixed drinks, but sometimes, people like a flavored shot.  If that’s the case, Malibu wins only if you don’t like the slight burn alcohol leaves as it goes down your throat.

Cruzan is a different beast here.  You can definitely smell the alcohol and a little more coconut than the other.  Cruzan, after all, has a higher alcohol by content rating.  The taste is a bit different too.  Still have the same buttery coconut flavor, but it seems less fabricated than its rival.  Consequently, there is a distinct alcohol burn on the way down.  Is this really a minus?  Only if you’re really adverse to the taste of alcohol.

Verdict:  Cruzan is the winner of this battle.  It has more abv, costs less, and even though it has the alcohol burn in the finish, if you add this to any mixed drink, that immediately disappears.  Not that I drink this personally, but I have definitely recommended it to a few of my female friends to try and have made many hit drinks with Cruzan.  Ironically, one of them is called the Malibu Sunset.

Bacardi Ron Solera

I came across this while shopping for my Halloween party, and hey, it came in a box, so why not.  Bacardi Ron Solera sounds like it’s made specifically for some guy in Puerto Rico.  Well if it was his idea, he deserves a medal because it’s probably the best Bacardi I have ever had to date (Note: I said best Bacardi, not best rum).  This Bacardi is like many other Bacardis