Photo provided by Luke of aspiringgentleman.com
The Oliva cigar company has a rich history in cigar making. It started in 1886 with Melanio Oliva, who grew his own tobacco and made his own cigars in Cuba. Melanio put tobacco aside to fight in the Cuban War for Independence, but would return to his passion and later hand it off to his son, Hipolito. When the communist government started to increase power, Hipolito traveled across South America to find the best growing conditions for tobacco, and settled in Nicaragua. Today, Oliva is the second largest grower of Cuban seed tobacco in Nicaragua. Their cigars didn’t take off until the mid 1990s, where they gained rave reviews for flavor, construction, and consistency.
The vitola I’ve chosen today is a Serie G toro sized cigar measuring in at 6 x 50. Its wrapper is an African Camaroon leaf, with Nicaraguan grown Cuban seed leaf for the binder and filler. The wrapper is a rougher texture of brown paper, dotted with some mild teeth and veins. The texture isn’t silky or velvety like some of the other cigars I’ve reviewed, but that doesn’t mean it’s off-putting either. The overall appearance is actually quite nice, if a little rough. The construction looks quite solid, and feels it too, with no soft spots as I turn the cigar in my fingertips. It has a strong scent of sweet spices and cedar and oak, reminding me of my grandma’s kitchen at her home.
Lighting the cigar was very easy with my single flame torch. The scent of spices and cedar grew stronger as the foot becomes a nice warm red ember, and reinforces the image of helping my grandmother bake deserts. Cutting the cap gave a little resistance, but only enough to show me that the cigar is as densely rolled as it feels. Finally I take my first puff from it, and I’m greeted with a nice mix of flavors. The first thing to come to mind is a sweet earthiness that leads nicely into a strong woody core of cedar, with a slightly smoky tone to it. It’s like charred cedar, without being burnt and bitter. The core becomes a mix of sweet and hot spices, finishing with a dark roast coffee and herbal aftertaste.
The flavors don’t change too much as the cigar progresses. They do intensify, however, and become a nice medium bodied smoke. Towards the halfway point I notice that the coffee flavor starts to show earlier, instead of only in the finish. It picks up more with the core flavors, and lasts through until the finish. Now I can picture myself sitting with my grandmother in the kitchen, sipping coffee with her while she makes desserts for the family when we visit. It’s a nice memory that’s drawn up, and makes the cigar even more enjoyable. Overall the flavors marry quite well, with no harshness or bitterness present. The flavors are clear, and flow smoothly into one another to make each one enjoyable alone and together.
To me, Oliva has always made enjoyable cigars. I’ve smoked all their lines, and find them all to be quite pleasant, with excellent flavors and good construction. Those two qualities alone make them worth buying to try out. However, to add to those two traits, Oliva cigars are also known to be well priced, especially the G series. I can find them online for under $4.00, and around $5.00 at a tobacconist. For that amount of money I get a cigar that I can enjoy with little fuss or attention for two hours and not break my wallet. They’re almost as consistent as Padrons, which is a feat in and of itself, and have a flavor profile that is quite pleasant. If you want to try one but don’t want to invest that much time into smoking one, there are numerous different sizes offered from the Special G — a petit perfecto to a full Churchill. I would suggest a robusto to get a good taste of what the filler and binder have to offer to the profile as well as the wrapper. I think you’ll be quite pleased with this cigar.