Oliva

Gilberto Oliva Reserva Toro

Gilberto Oliva Reserva Toro. A tribute to the man who started the Oliva Cigar Company in Nicaragua in 1995. But that doesn’t mean that the family wasn’t in tobacco before. It all started with Melanio Oliva in 1886. Melanio Oliva, the family patriarch, grew tobacco in Pinar del Rio, Cuba. Gilberto, Melanio’s grandson, fled to Spain and later Nicaragua after the Cuban revolution and after his family’s plantations were taken from them by the thieving Cuban regime. In Nicaragua, he became a tobacco grower again. With his sons Gilberto, Carlos, and José, he created Oliva Cigars. In 2017, at age 86, Gilberto Oliva passes away. Ministry of Cigars was lucky enough to have sat down with this industry legend at the Tabolisa factory in 2014.

To honor their father, Jose, Gilberto Jr, and Carlos created the Gilberto Oliva Reserva line. In the same way, as they did with their great grandfather Melanio. For the Gilberto Oliva Reserva line, they turned to an Indonesian Sumatra wrapper. The binder is from Ecuador. The filler is Nicaraguan, with at least some but probably all coming from the Oliva family farms. Besides producing cigars, Oliva also grows tobacco in Esteli, Condega, and Jalapa. The Oliva Cigar Company is now part of the Belgian family-owned J. Cortes brand.

The cigar is quite good looking. A smooth and oily Colorado Maduro colored Indonesian Sumatra wrapper. At first glance, cigar smokers might not recognize this as an Oliva cigar. The classic logo with the big O is missing from the ring. Dark red, gold, and brown create a more classic looking logo. The construction feels immaculate. A nice triple cap finishes the look. The cigar has a mild spicy aroma.

The cold draw gives a bit more resistance than desired. After the cigar is lit, there is a beautiful mixture of sugar, grass, and dark spices. Full, rounded, smooth. Slowly a little pepper and leather show up too. Black pepper. The spice is a mixture of nutmeg and cinnamon. It is more pronounced in the retrohale. After a third, cedarwood shows up as well. The dark spices remain, with sweetness, and there is even a hint of vanilla. If there is any cigar that makes resembles Coca-Cola in a dry form, this is it. But better. Because there is also cedar, black pepper, and some earthy flavor. The Final third has all of the flavors mentioned above, with some citrus and floral flavors. These flavors remain until the end. Only the mouthfeel changes and becomes a bit dry.

The draw is good. The ash is white as ash can be, a sign of tobacco from potassium-rich soil. The burn is straight and slow. The smoke is thick. It’s white and there is a lot of it. This is a cigar medium in body yet full in flavor. Well balanced and very pleasant, yet the cigar could use a little more character. The smoke time is three hours and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I want a box

Categories: Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , ,

Oliva Serie V Maduro 2018 Double Robusto

Since 2008, Oliva has released a Limited Edition Maduro version of their popular Oliva Series V line. In the first few years, the company changed the wrapper until they found the right Mexican San Andres Maduro wrapper and they have used that one since. And in the past, there was a limited Oliva V Maduro exclusively for Europe too. I loved the 2010 Short Robusto, that might be my favorite Oliva Series V Maduro ever.

I bought this cigar in Cigaragua, Amsterdam. Sasja, the owner, said I should really try this even though he knows I usually think that the natural is better than the yearly Maduro when it comes to the Oliva series V. I know he wouldn’t advise this if it really wasn’t as good as the natural, so I am going to give it a try.

The first thing I notice, or not notice might be a better description, is an added ring with either limited edition or Maduro written on it. It would be nice if Oliva would add a second ring, instead of just a little mention ‘Maduro especial’ on the regular ring. Especially with a year on the ring, that might add collector value, especially since the 6×60 Double Toro size is used every year and it’s hard to see which year you have when you don’t keep them in their own box.

The wrapper is dark, toothy, and oily wrapper. It has a vein running over the face of the cigar like a scar but it fits the rough looking, leathery wrapper. The ring is the classic, brown and golden Oliva Series V ring, well printed, nice and shiny. The cigar feels hard. The aroma is deep, strong, manure and charred wood.

The cold draw is good with a peppery raisin flavor. After lighting, I taste coffee, herbs, and pepper. There’s also some powder sugar, mild though. Soon I taste sweet toast, a bit like cinnamon toast. After a centimeter, I taste that cinnamon toast, pepper, and grass. Suddenly I taste some dark chocolate too. The second third starts with wood, spices, pepper, and leather. The final third starts with a strong chocolate flavor.

The draw is good, the smoke is white and good. The salt and pepper colored ash is quite dense and firm. The cigar is medium-full flavored and full bodied. The smoke time is 2 hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a decent cigar but I prefer the regular Oliva Series V double robusto.

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Categories: 91, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , ,

Oliva Baptiste Toro

A friend gave me this cigar and said: “I think you will like this one”. He knows that I love Oliva cigars. And I had never heard of this one before, even though at my previous job we distributed the brand. And we were warehousing Oliva for all international accounts. Plus I’ve been to the factory twice. So my curiosity was sparked.

The cigar is made exclusively for Famous Smoke Shop. It’s a Nicaraguan filler, Nicaraguan binder, and Ecuador Habano wrapper cigar. The cigar is in between box-pressed and oval. The one that I smoked is a 5½x54 Toro and they are dirt cheap. If you buy them by the box, you only pay 4 USD per cigar, for a premium, hand-made stick and that’s a bundle price yet they come in boxes.

The wrapper is dark, a bit rustic with one big vein on the bottom front. The backside of the ring reminds me of the Oliva series V. The shape of the front too, but red instead of brown. The aroma has burned notes, charred woods with something floral. The shape is in between oval and box pressed. The construction feels good.

The cold draw is perfect with raw tobacco as the flavor. After lighting, I taste sweet coffee, strong though. There’s also soil and pepper. Soon a faint leather shows up too, with a minty freshness. After a few puffs, I taste roasted nuts, caramel, cinnamon, spicy green herbs, and some pepper. The leather lingers around on the background. After a third, I taste sweet grass with some leather and citrus. The caramel sweetness is the dominant flavor, very pleasant, smooth with some spice coming from green herbs and pepper on the background. The flavors are well balanced. I get some toast too. The flavors are mild creamy with a hint of vanilla. There’s a little bitterness on the tip of my tongue. Halfway I taste some oak, with pepper, roasted nuts, coffee beans, and caramel. The flavors slowly change to a more spice based flavor. Nutmeg, cinnamon, cumin with a little minty freshness. There’s also a little earthy flavor with some oak. The sweetness has disappeared, the pepper turned to white pepper. The cigar has a little oak, leather, pepper, sweetness, spices, nuts, coffee. So many flavors, all balanced and smooth.

This is a cigar that I could smoke every single day, over and over again.

The draw is great. The ash is quite dark and not firm. The burn is pretty straight. This is a medium bodied, full flavored cigar. It just fits my flavor preferences like a glove. With a better-looking wrapper and a better burn, I could have scored a 95. I thoroughly enjoyed it for exactly two hours.

Would I buy this cigar again? I ordered a box before I was done typing this review.

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Categories: 92, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , ,

Flor de Oliva Lancero

I was looking for a budget lancero since I’m publishing a long list of budget reviews and I found a Flor de Oliva lancero in my lancero humidor, a perfect candidate for a budget lancero review, since you can get these 6 1/2×44 cigars for less than 2 dollars per cigar on the internet. And that’s cheap! Now some sites call these cigars lonsdale, some call them lancero, some call them panatela but for the sake of publishing a lancero every 15th of the month I will consider it a lancero.


The cigar is made in Nicaragua, in the Oliva factory in Esteli where prize winning cigars like the Series V and the Melanio lines are being produced too yet the Flor de Oliva series are in a completely different price range. There is a Maduro serie with a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper but I’m smoking the natural, a cigar with Nicaraguan filler and a Sumatra wrapper.


The wrinkly wrapper has a latte color and a mild shine from the oils. The ring is very simple, thick white outlines, a blue top part and a red bottom part, white letters Flor de Oliva in the Flor de Cano font and golden tobacco leaves at the bottom. The construction feels good, the shape of the cigar is nice. The aroma is decent, it reminds me of a spice rack, different spices mixed together.


I used a guillotine cutter to cut the cigar. The cold draw is good. All I taste is tobacco with a little sweetness. After lighting I taste wood with a little allspice. The cigar has a mild sweetness but also a a mix of spices, nutmeg, cinnamon and cumin. In the final third I taste some wood too, but the flavors get a little mean.


The draw is flawless and the smoke is thick and white. The ash is light gray, but it’s not very firm. The burn is straight. The cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s the best flor de Oliva natural, but I would not buy it again.

Score: 88
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Categories: 88, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , ,

Flor de Oliva Maduro Robusto

Oliva is, for me personally, an underrated factory. When you ask me about my favorite factories I won’t spit out Oliva because they are never on top of my mind even though I visited the factory twice, met Jose Oliva and Gilberto Oliva several times and worked for the European distributor for years. Yet, every time I smoke an Oliva cigar, it doesn’t matter if its an O, O Maduro, G, V or Melanio cigar I am impressed and I know I am smoking a great cigar.


And within the range of Oliva cigars there is one cigar that is underrated more than any other cigar and it’s the Flor de Oliva Maduro. I had so many people tell me “I won’t smoke this because it’s a budget cigar and it can’t be good” but when I gave them one they were all impressed by the flavor and quality of this budget cigar. And to be honest, I don’t smoke them often but when I do this cigar, in combination with the low price, surprises me time after time.


The wrapper is dark and oily with some clear veins. It looks much better than some maduro wrappers on premium cigars of other companies. The ring is brown on glossy paper with a shaded Oliva logo and the Flor de Oliva name, in the Flor de Cana font in gold. The details on the edges of the ring are in gold too. Now although the overall look of the ring is much better than the old ones, it does seem to stand out a little less than the old one. The construction feels good and the cap is placed nicely. From what I understand these cigars are rolled by the most inexperienced rollers in the factory but the one that did this one can be promoted. The aroma is quite strong and reminds me of a stable with a mixed aroma of straw, urine, animals and manure.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is a bit tight. I taste nothing. After lighting I taste a mild coffee with chocolate. After half an inch I taste a nice chocolate and wood flavor with some sweetness. That flavor remains until the final third, when the flavors turn to herbal, the sweetness disappears and a very mild white pepper shows up.


The draw is good. The smoke is white, quite full and I get a decent amount of smoke. The white ash is firm and dense. The burn is flawless. This medium bodied and medium flavored cigar is nice yet not very dynamic. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? Great budget humidor filler.

Score: 88
number88

Categories: 88, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , , ,

Flor de Oliva Naturel Torpedo

When I was a novice cigar smoker, little over 10 years ago, someone handed me a Flor de Oliva. I think it was a robusto, but I’m not sure. I was shocked to see that a cigar could be so cheap as my experience back then was mostly with Cuban cigars. But boy, I was in for a surprise because back then Flor de Oliva was a sweetened cigar, instead of pectin Oliva used sugar water to glue the Flor de Oliva cigars, maybe to mask the harsher tobacco used for this budget cigar?


Oliva stopped using that method years ago, they updated the whole line with new rings but I am smoking an old one. Unsweetened but still with the old ring so it must have some age to it by now. Not only the ring is a sign that it’s an older cigar but also the tax stamp that has been changed from a single cigar stamp to a box stamp a few years back.


The wrapper isn’t a looker, it has some veins, it looks a bit rough, it feels like dry leather but then again, it is a budget cigar so you can’t expect Oliva to use their best wrapper leaf for this line. The ring is simple, blue and red with thick white borders, golden tobacco leaves in the red part and white letters Flor de Oliva in the blue part. The font is exactly the same als de Flor de Cana font, Nicaragua most famous rum. The construction feels good but the head of the cigar has a weird tip. The cigar has quite a strong aroma of hay and straw.


When I wet the cap before cutting I taste sweetness and that makes me think this is a vintage one. About 7 years ago Oliva changed from sweetened to unsweetened tips and this might be an oldie. After cutting I don’t taste the sugar anymore. The draw is easy and I taste raw tobacco.  After lighting I taste a muted, slightly musty, cedar with cinnamon. The mustiness disappears immediately, I taste nutmeg and cinnamon, slightly harsh. After a third the cigar turns harsh. After I cut a little piece off the cigar is still harsh but now with the nutmeg and cinnamon.


The draw is loose, the smoke is thick, white and full. The burn needed a few touch ups. The light colored ash is firm and dense. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full bodied. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, I love Oliva but this one not so much.

Score: 83
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Categories: 83, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , ,

Gilberto Oliva sr passed away

I just learned that Gilberto Oliva sr passed away, age 86. I want to wish the Oliva family strength and wisdom during these difficult time.

When I heard the news I thought back to February 2014, when I had the opportunity to meet this legendary man at the Oliva factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.

me & gilberto Oliva

Categories: Misc, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva

Oliva Master Blend 3 Torpedo

After the 2003 release of the Oliva Master Blend 1, the 2005 release of the Master Blend 2 Oliva released a third Master Blend, the Master Blend 3 in 2006. The company did not disclose how many cigars were released but next to the box releases in the robusto, torpedo and Churchill sizes they also released a sampler with those three vitolas and a 5×54 double robusto.


The cigars aren’t tattooed as explained in the Master Blend 2 review which I published yesterday. And in the last 11 years there has been no follow up to the Master Blend series, so we are still waiting for the Master Blend 4. The Master Blend series consisted of 3 vitolas, I smoked the Churchill for the Master Blend 1  review, the robusto for the Master Blend 2 review so lets go for the torpedo for this Master Blend 3 review, then I covered all vitolas and all releases


The sharp head of the cigar is what I notice first, combined with the box pressed with rounded corners it makes the cigar quite unique in shape. The ring is almost identical to the Master Blend 1 and 2, except for a little difference in color and a 3 of course. There is no mention of the number of released cigars though and the tattoo is missing. The construction feels good and the dark wrapper feels a leathery. The cigar has a strong aroma, it smells like walking through the woods early morning after a rainfall, wood, plants and animal droppings.


I cut the cigar. The perfect cold draw is spicy and peppery with sultanas. After lighting it with a soft flame I taste a nice smooth mixture of coffee, honey, cedar, cumin and lime. After an inch I taste cedar, nutmeg, pepper and lime. Halfway the pepper gets stronger with cedar. The final third starts with wood, a little pepper and a little lemon. Near the end I taste coffee again.


The draw is fine and the smoke is medium plus thick, medium plus in volume and beautifully white. The ash is dense and white but not too firm. The burn is pretty straight. The cigar is medium plus bodied and full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s a good cigar but I like the 1 and 2 better.

Score: 92
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Categories: 92, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , , ,

Oliva Master Blend 2 Robusto

I explained the history on the Oliva Master Blend series in the review of the Master Blend 1 Churchill which I posted yesterday so I won’t repeat myself on the limited tobacco story. Where the Master Blend 1 was released in 2003, the Master Blend 2 came out in 2005. Where the Master Blend 1 saw a production of 375,000 cigars the Master Blend 2 is even more limited with 120,000 cigars, 2,000 boxes of each size.


Now I have a bundle of the private stock of the Oliva family, those are not tattooed but I also had a commercial released one with the tattoo. The tattoo is beautiful but Oliva stopped with tattooing the cigars because it caused at least a 10% damage rate in perfectly good cigars, costing a lot of money and wasting a lot of good tobacco.


The first difference I notice is the ring, its almost identical except it has a 2 right above the half circle cut out and the total production is on the side instead the back. The wrapper is more rustic, thick with veins and discolorations but the tattoo makes up for it. The construction is flawless, again the box pressed with rounded corners like in the Master Blend 1 review and a well placed cap. The aroma is strong, cocoa mixed with hay and straw, very nice.


I punched the cigar. The raisin flavored cold draw is fine. I lit this vintage cigar with a vintage lighter, soft flame. I taste coffee with sugar and lemon, the aftertaste is red pepper. After half an inch I taste earth with a little lemon and a faint of chocolate accompanied by a peppery aftertaste. After a third I taste earth with a little nutmeg, lime, salt and pepper. The flavors change to cedar, soil, chocolate, salt and pepper. The final third starts nutty with salt and a nice dose of pepper in the aftertaste. The pepper slowly grows and I taste a hint of mint too.


I found that the draw was close to perfect. The ash is light gray with thick layers. The ash is firm too. The smoke is medium thick, I would have liked a little more of it though. The burn is beautiful. The cigar has a slow but steady evolution, its complex and medium bodied while being medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty five minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish!

Score: 94
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Categories: 94, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , ,

Oliva Master Blend 1 Churchill

Tobacco growing companies often experiment with tobacco, new crops, hybrid tobaccos etcetera and sometimes with fantastic tobacco as a result but those tobaccos aren’t always suitable for further exploitation maybe because of a low yield or that they are prone to disease. Oliva is one of the companies that both grows and makes cigars and in 2000 they had crop of experimental tobacco. They decided to put a Habano wrapper around it and called it “Master Blend 1”, with a total limited production of 5,000 boxes in three sizes (robusto, torpedo and Churchill), so 15,000 in total and released it in 2003.


Now these cigars are nowhere to be found anymore but I have a friend at the factory and when she came over for a trip to Amsterdam I offered her my guest bedroom which she gladly accepted. As a gift she brought me a bundle of Master Blend 1 Churchills, Master Blend 2 Robusto and Special S Perfecto. She knew I wanted the Master Blends, I begged her for those both of the times I visited the factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. Now the Master Blend 1 and 2 that were commercially released have a tattoo on the wrapper but the ones I got don’t have the tattoo, they were rolled and stored for personal use of the Oliva family.


The cigar has a nice colored habano wrapper, medium dark, silky with one vein but its been pressed before rolling so it doesn’t destroy the look of the cigar. The ring is gorgeous, burgundy red with golden details and letters, a green picture of tobacco fields and at the back is says the total production of 375,000 cigars. At the bottom of the ring there is a half circle cut out for the tattoo, that is missing on my specimen but I explained why. I love the shape of the cigar, its box pressed but with rounded edges, therefore it falls in between what you would expect with a box pressed cigar and a regular cigar shape. The construction feels great too, a bit hard but evenly packed with a nice placed cap. The smell is still strong after all these years and is a strong barnyard aroma.


I punched the cigar and the draw is a little tight, so I might have to cut it later. I taste hay and raisin. I lit the cigar with my soft flame. After lighting I taste raisin and floral flavors with a little pepper. After and inch I taste floral flavors with nutmeg, toast and white pepper. I also taste some walnut. Halfway I taste nuts, some chocolate, some mild pepper, cedar. The age took care of any harshness, this cigar is so smooth without becoming dull. The final third is a smooth nut with a little bit of white pepper and a hint of nutmeg. The pepper slowly gets a little stronger.


The draw is good, better than the cold draw. The ash is white, dense and firm. The smoke is thick, white and full in volume. The burn is straight. The cigar is smooth, complex and if I had smoked this blind I would have known that it is a vintage cigar. I would call it medium bodied and medium to medium full flavored but very smooth. The smoking time is two hours and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? I wish. Maybe I can bribe my friend at the factory with some stroopwafels.

Score: 94
number94

Categories: 94, Nicaraguan cigars, Oliva, Tabacalera Oliva | Tags: , , , ,

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