Zaya rum — made in Trinidad and Tobago — recently dropped two new unusual expressions — the first line extension for the brand, ever. Both are blends that include rum up to 16 years old, and one is lightly flavored. We received them both for review. Thoughts follow.
Zaya Cocobana Rum – Flavored with banana, cocoa, and spices, this rum is quite dark in appearance, and there’s surely plenty of old stock in the blend here. The nose doesn’t shy away from those flavoring elements, mind you: Flambeed banana hits first, then a coffee-laced cocoa powder and a mix of gingery baking spices. Imagine the most exotic spiced rum you’ve ever had and you’re in the ballpark. The palate is sweet but approachable, the aggressive banana sliding into a nutty character that evokes glazed walnuts, vanilla, and ample spice. Less chocolate on the palate than the nose, with a maple syrup quality to the finish. Sticky. It’s too much on its own, but you’d be well advised to drop your Captain Morgan and use this as a go-to cola mixer. 80 proof. B+ / $30
Zaya Alta Fuerza Rum – Not flavored as near as I can tell, this is just an overproof blend of aged rums. It certainly pulls no punches in the flavor department, however, its rich nose evoking well-sugared coffee, dark chocolate, banana candies, and plenty of vanilla. Sweeter on the tongue than I expected given the 57.5% abv, the rum bursts with notes of oxidized fruit — almost Port-like at times — that meld with orange blossoms, chocolate sauce, vanilla, and ample coffee bean notes. Mouth-clingingly sweet and sticky on the finish, notes of brown sugar and maple syrup endure for ages. Strangely, while there’s some initial burn, the finished product is far more approachable than you’d expect at bottle strength, perhaps owing to the tempering quality of the sugar in the mix. 115 proof. B+ / $40