Cigar Buying Guides

2018 CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to NUB Cigars by Oliva

Reading Time: 14 minutes

Cigar Advisor’s Essential Nub Cigars Tasting & Buying Guide

By the Cigar Advisor Editors


The Nub Cigars Back Story

When Nub cigars arrived on the premium cigar scene in 2008 they weren’t a so-called “novelty” for very long. Originally created by Sam Leccia at the Oliva Cigar factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, this unique, fat, half-cigar shape took the industry by storm and was even chosen as a “2008 Best Buy” by Cigar Insider. Before you knew it, “Nub” was the word. The success of the brand inspired Oliva to form Studio Tobac, the “innovative arm” of the Oliva Cigar Co. where the popular Cain cigars line was also born. So what was the logic here?

Since, according to many, the most enjoyable part of a cigar – a.k.a. the “sweet spot” – occurs in the last 3½ to 4-inches of a full-size cigar, the question was: Why not make a cigar with almost the same amount of tobacco as a full-size stick and pack it into a 4-inch smoke? And they were right.

For 10 years now, Nub cigars have become a staple among premium cigar enthusiasts worldwide. Using an all-Nicaraguan core, they’re rolled in Connecticut, Broadleaf Maduro, Cameroon and Habano wrappers. But that’s not all. . .

The Nub line also extends to the Cain “straight ligero” cigars line for cigar smokers who want a bolder, more complex smoke. And for those who want something even more out of the ordinary, there’s Nub Café cigars – a much more mellow, infused selection made with creamy Cappuccino, Espresso and Macchiato flavors. So, as Shakespeare wrote in his first draft of Hamlet: “To smoke. Perchance to dream. Aye, there’s the nub!” 

For our Cigar Advisor Guide to Nub Cigars, we’ve sampled each of the lines currently available at Famous Smoke Shop; these Nubs are listed roughly in order of their appearance, starting with Nub Connecticut and finishing with the aforementioned Cain selections. As we’ve said in the past, taste is a subjective thing – these quick reviews are designed to give you a general look at how each cigar performed for us, and decide if one (or more) might be a good fit for your taste preferences. Try for yourself, then let us know with a comment below; if you’ve smoked them before, share your experiences at the end. Here are the details. . .


Nub Connecticut Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 464T (4″ x 64 Torpedo)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
Filler & Binder: Nicaragua

nub cigars guide nub connecticut cigar review BIN

Construction/Appearance: Seamlessly rolled and well-packed. Connecticut wrapper is even in golden brown color throughout and silky to the touch.
Pre-light: Some hay and leather.
Toasting and Light: Foot took easily to flame, but a little longer than usual.
Draw: Excellent. Better with a straight guillotine cut than a V-cut. (I used both.)
First few puffs: Earthy and woody, with some light sweetness.
Burn: Excellent. No issues. Ash was firm and formed a nice cone shape.
Aroma: Peppery.
Base Flavors: Cedar with some light pepper on the finish.
Retrohale: White pepper; not overly sharp.
Balance: Excellent.

nub cigars guide nub connecticut cigar review GK
Earth, wood and light pepper flavors make for a tame Nicaraguan smoke – by far, an easy intro to Oliva’s line of Nub cigars. Click for more.

Summary: A well-made cigar for its size. However, the tapered and 64-ring gauge (that’s 1 full inch folks), take a little getting used to as far as holding it, especially in the final inch. A mostly one-note song led by a dominant cedarwood melody. Retrohales reveal some Nicaraguan pepper for a notable change-up. All-in-all, a uniquely-shaped alternative for cigar smokers who like Nicaraguan core blends with Connecticut-wrappers. Great with coffee.

– Gary Korb


Nub Cameroon Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 464T (4″ x 64 Torpedo)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: African Cameroon
Filler & Binder: Nicaragua

 nub cigars guide nub cameroon cigar review BIN

Construction/Appearance: Attractively rolled and well-packed. The Cameroon wrapper is delicately thin with an attractive blotchiness, and very silky in feel.
Pre-light: Earth and leather.
Toasting and Light: Using a quad-jet Xikar cigar lighter, this 464T lit perfectly.
Draw: Perfect with plenty of smoke.
First few puffs: Woody with a hint of sweetness.
Burn: Excellent.
Aroma: Woody.
Base Flavors: Earth, cedar, spice.
Retrohale: Mostly woody and earthy, with a little pepper in the mix.
Balance: Excellent.

nub cigars guide nub cameroon cigar review GK
A very consistent smoke; Gary calls this Nub Cameroon “a solid, full-flavored cigar that never ventures far from home.” Click to see more.

Summary: This cigar starts with very well-balanced and creamy smoke. The initial flavors are earthy and woody with only a suggestion of sweet tobacco. Since this cigar starts where the key flavors are supposed to be, I concluded that the base flavors were pretty much all she wrote. It gets peppier in the last couple of inches, but for the most part, it’s a solid, full-flavored cigar that never ventures far from home. For cigar smokers who like the earthy-spicy character of rich Nicaraguan tobacco, this Nub’s for you.

– Gary Korb


Nub Habano Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 358 (3 ¾” x 58 Rothschild)
Strength: Medium-Full
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

nub cigars guide nub habano cigar review BIN

Construction: Deep brown, nice satiny sheen from the oils. No soft spots here.
Draw: Very open.
Pre-light flavor: Chocolate, wood and toast.
Toasting & Light: Easy light – huge plumes of smoke.
First Few Puffs: Spice, leather and coffee.
Base flavors: Wood, coffee, spice, earth, leather.
Retrohale: Spicy at first; later, it has wood and slight earth sensations.
Aroma: Wood and dark roasted coffee.
Burn & Ash Quality: Mostly straight burn with little to no lag, resulting in even, mottled ash.
Balance of flavors: The flavors mesh much better in the second half of the cigar.

nub cigars guide nub habano cigar review JP
Many complain that Nub cigars get hot toward the end; just take your time once you’re down to the last inch and you can, indeed, nub this Nub Habano. Click for more.

Summary: The nice open draw made smoking this larger RG cigar easy. If you don’t smoke a big ring cigar that often, extra airflow makes the experience more approachable and enjoyable. As for the flavors…

Straight-up Nicaraguan tastes from open to close: leather, coffee and wood. Pepper lays across the tip of the tongue, and doesn’t want to move. All good, but these tastes seem to jive much better at halfway. That’s when the spice backs off, leaving rich sensations of black coffee, wood and earth. It even gets a little creamy and sweet in there, with hints of various chocolates. You may like this as a counteracting flavor to the dark, bold taste coffee; then again, you may not.

I never would have thought there was time enough to see the flavors change that much, in this short a cigar. The finish is pretty long, leaving a slightly-sweet coating on the taste buds – and compared to where the Nub Habano started, it’s a fine ending. Nicaraguan fans, try this Nub if you’re in the mood for subtle over spicy.

– John Pullo


Nub Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 460 (4” x 60 Rothschild)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Brazilian Arapiraca
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

top brazilian wrapper cigars NUB Maduro nub cigars

Construction: Great Maduro with very fine tooth. Neatly made – seams are practically invisible.
Draw: Perfect, with just a hint of resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Honey, sweet tobacco and earth.
Toasting & Light: Gas up – it takes an extra bit of torch time to get it lit.
First Few Puffs: Nice rips of smoke loaded with pepper and coffee.
Base flavors: Coffee, wood, dark chocolate – very heavy on the palate.
Retrohale: BIG wood notes, with earth and pepper.
Aroma: Sweet and woody.
Burn & Ash Quality: Mostly straight, but for 2 touchups; tight ash that holds well.
Balance of flavors: Three big shifts making this a more complex selection.

nub cigars guide nub maduro cigar review jp
John: “Don’t expect the usual Maduro sweetness to set in right away; here, you have to wait for that. Fortunately, the wait is not long.” Click for more.

Summary: Maduro has a rep for being sweet, as more of the tobacco’s natural sugars are left behind after the heavier fermentation on this thicker leaf; it also can burn a little wonky. Both traits are (eventually) evident with the Nub Maduro.

To me, Nub cigars are like an inverted cigar; meaning, this 4×60 uses about the same amount of tobacco as a 6×40, like a Lonsdale – it’s just arranged differently. But unlike the Lonsdale, you taste more filler than wrapper.

The Nub Maduro opens heavy and dark: pepper and roasted coffee beans. That quickly gets creamier – like how a milkshake tastes after malt is added. Then it’s a more straightforward sweetness, akin to caramel; and once the pepper passes completely, it’s a meaty burn with all sorts of creamy-sweet attributes, with thick and buttery smoke.

For the second half, this pudgy little savage tells a whole new story: the sweets have left, replaced by dark roast coffee bean, leather and charred steak. By the finish, it’s mostly charred wood as the cigar eventually lives up to its full-bodied billing.

In short: a well-crafted Maduro, this Nub is an honest Nicaraguan smoke that shows short, but sweet, flashes of brilliance. The sweet spot has a sweet spot – try for yourself and see.

– John Pullo


Nub Dub Double Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 466 (4” x 66 Gordo)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Double Brazilian Arapiraca Maduro
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

nub cigars guide nub dub cigar review nub double maduro BIN

Construction: The Brazilian wrapper is a dark chocolate brown, slightly toothy and velvety feeling. Very well constructed, and well packed.
Draw: Very good.
Pre-light flavor: Foot: Mocha coffee, earth, leather, cream, and pepper. Cold Draw: Raisins, toast, and white pepper.
Toasting & Light: It took some cajoling due to the large ring gauge, as was to be expected.
Initial notes: Nicely sweet and toasty with an oily mouthfeel and a woody/peppery aftertaste.
Base flavors: Mocha coffee, caramel, woods, pepper, coffee.
Retrohale: Mocha coffee with bread, earth, a citrus tang and a slight pepper spice.
Aroma: Pleasantly woody and peppery.
Burn / Ash Quality: Perfect burn, straight and narrow burn line and a solid-white ash.
Balance of flavors: Leaned toward sweet coffee-like flavors with a touch of pepper.

nub cigars guide nub dub double maduro cigar review fl
It is mini, but it is mighty: “a best buy for the price,” says Fred. Click to see more.

Summary: Oliva pulled a clown car on this one: they stuff a multitude of deep flavors into a stocky, 4 x 66 frame. Much like a Mini Cooper or similarly mini-but-mighty cars, the Nub Double Maduro picked up with some strength but kept itself mobile and left with a smooth drive. Early on, the flavors were dominated by pepper, woods, and a light citrus tang with a whisper of caramel sweetness at the back of the palate.

The gears take a shift midway through with heavy notes of mocha coffee and caramel sweetness followed by a sharp wood and pepper flavor with a pleasant sweet coffee finish. While not overly powerful, this little Nub packed a quick jab of flavor and aroma into my mid-day smoke without taking up a whole lot of time.

Final thoughts: A best buy for the price, uber-flavorful and mouthwatering. I’d pair this with a stout or porter, after a morning hike or round of golf.

– Fred Lunt


NUB Café Espresso Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: 354 (3 3/4″ x 54 Rothschild)
Strength: Mellow-Medium
Wrapper: Indonesian Sumatra
Filler & Binder: Dominican Republic/Nicaragua

nub cigars guide nub cafe espresso cigar review nub nuance BIN

Construction: On the slightly toothy side.
Draw: Very smooth with lots of smoke.
Pre-light flavor: Like a sweet bakery item.
First Few Puffs: Sweet.
Base flavors: Coffee and cocoa.
Aroma: Sweet and aromatic.
Burn & Ash Quality: Nice burn and solid ash.
Balance of flavors: One dimensional but that’s how it’s intended to be.

nub cigars guide nub cafe espresso cigar review nub nuance
Tinged with coffee, these Nub cigars are proof that not all after-dinner cigars need to be heavy and full; Zman calls it a good pick, even if you think you don’t like flavored cigars. Click for more.

Summary: There’s no mistaking it, this is a flavored smoke that I like to refer to as a dessert cigar. I’d say it’s mellow to medium in strength as the dark Indonesian Sumatra wrapper gives it a little shot of oomph.

The Espresso is referred to as the Triple Roast, and again, this is truly an after-dinner dessert cigar. It’s not complex by any means as it gives off straight-forward notes of dark cocoa, coffee and I’d say a hint of cinnamon, and the aroma is sweet and toasty. The cap is slightly sweetened, just enough to add flavor but not overpower by any means. The burn and construction are good while it forms a solid gray ash. And when I lit it up, someone in the office actually asked if I was baking chocolate cake.

While I’m not a flavored cigar smoking guy, I had this with a hearty cup of post-dinner coffee and I found it to actually be a nice change of pace. Hey, dessert cigars aren’t for everyone, but if you or someone else likes something different now and again, this chubby lil’ sweetie is absolutely one to give a try.

– Tommy Zman


Nub Café Cappuccino Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: 354 (3″ x 54 Rothschild)
Strength: Mellow-Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut
Filler & Binder: Dominican Republic/Nicaragua

 nub cigars guide nub cafe cappuccino cigar review nub nuance BIN

Construction/Appearance: Good. The wrapper is a bit worn-looking, but the rolling is excellent, and the cigar is well-packed.
Pre-light: Like a candy bar. Sugary-sweet (the caps are sweetened on all Nub Café), with a strong maple syrup-like flavor.
Toasting and Light: Very good. Lit well on one attempt.
Draw: Excellent.
First few puffs: A little spicy with some caramel flavor, which is overwhelmed by the sweet cap.
Burn: Excellent, and much longer than expected. Ash is moderately firm.
Aroma: Rich and sweet. NOTE: This cigar smells more like cappuccino than it tastes.
Base Flavors: Caramel.
Retrohale: Earthy and tangy.
Balance: Very good.

nub cigars guide nub cafe cappuccino cigar review nub nuance GK
This Nub Cafe Cappuccino is a smooth and very slow burn; if you like sweet cigars, this is in your wheelhouse – maybe even right up there with Java, says Gary. Click for more.

Summary:  If Nub cigars are supposed to start at the “sweet spot,” this one sure takes it literally. Nothing but sweetness at the gate, and mostly from the cap. Once the sweetness settles down, the cigar transitions to a smooth, balanced smoke with more of an earthy, natural tobacco taste. Some caramel squeezes through, but the finish has a spicy component similar to cinnamon gum. This cigar also burns slowly, so its 3-inch length is deceiving. My sample smoked for over an hour without a relight, and I found it pretty enjoyable for a cigar I don’t usually smoke. Suffice it to say, cigar smokers who enjoy coffee-infused cigars like JAVA cigars, will most likely enjoy the Nub Café Cappuccino. It’s also a little more wallet-friendly.

– Gary Korb


NUB Café Macchiato Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: 354 (3 ¾” x 54 Rothschild)
Strength: Mellow
Wrapper: Indonesian Sumatra
Filler & Binder: Dominican Republic/Nicaragua

 nub cigars guide nub cafe macchiato cigar review nub nuance BIN

Construction: Decently pack, nice firmly rolled. The wrapper has a rustic, milk chocolate shade with a fine layer of oil.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Toast, bread, sweet coffee and a slight cream. The sweetened cap is a slightly saccharine.
Toasting & Light: Nice and easy.
Initial notes: Very mellow, a lot of toast, hay and milk chocolate sweetness with a slight coffee aftertaste.
Base flavors: Milk chocolate, popcorn, cedar, salted caramel.
Aroma: Very sweet and chocolatey.
Burn / Ash Quality: Perfect burn, sharp burn line and a solid white ash.
Balance of flavors: Very sweet and mellow.

Nub cigars guide nub cafe Macchiato cigar review nub nuance FL
“A short smoke…held a Hershey-bar chocolatey sweetness,” says Fred. Great morning smoke – with coffee, of course. Click to see more.

Summary: In general, I find it hard for myself to review flavored cigars, when the band tells you what you taste- it takes away the excitement of hunting for notes and hidden details. However, after digging into the Nub Macchiato I was found myself pulling notes of milk chocolate, popcorn, and cedar from every nook and cranny imaginable.

While a short smoke, the grand finale of this cigar held a Hershey-bar chocolatey sweetness with an oak undertone and a hand of salted caramel.

Final thoughts: A nice, mellow cigar for quick morning enjoyment. Pair with, of course, a coffee or espresso.

– Fred Lunt


Oliva Cain Nub Habano Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size:  460 (4” x 60 Rothschild)
Strength:  Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder:  Nicaragua

oliva nub cigars guide oliva cain nub habano cigar review BIN

Construction: Slightly over packed and heavy for a little guy. The wrapper is chestnut brown and silky smooth with thin veins and a hefty layering of oil.
Draw: Slightly tight.
Pre-light flavor: Foot: Earth, fruits, pepper, and must. Cold Draw: Plums, toast, cedar, hay, and earth.
Toasting & Light: Pretty easy for a 60 ring.
Initial notes: Lightly spicy up front with a nice meatiness backing it up. A slightly floral undertone with oak and cedar woods on the finish.
Base flavors: Cream, cedar, floral, orange zest.
Retrohale: Very smooth and lightly spicy up front, a heavy oak sweetness and a slight hint of plum from the cold draw.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burn is super sharp, that ash is slightly flaky but snow white.
Balance of flavors: There’s a big beefy body here but it’s cut down in intensity by subtle flavors and a compact frame.

nub cigars guide oliva Nub Cain cigar review fl
Hearty, as is the Cain way – and great with spicy rye, or dark rum. Click to see more.

Summary: The Oliva Cain has a reputation of being a ligero filled super-monster, but scaled down to a Nub-sized 4 x 60 this brute proved to be tamable. This full-bodied Nub proved to be two handfuls of flavor; beneath a lightly woody sweetness and a beefy body lay a floral undertone with accents of orange citrus. A slight saltiness flits in and out with a heavy sweetness that soon took over.

By mid-way through this cigar proved to be peculiarly creamy and filling. A nice meatiness joins wood and sweetness, but the lingering orange zest is the finishing touch.

Final thoughts: A hearty and flavorful cigar, strong but accessible to smokers of most levels of experience. Pair these Cain Nub cigars with a spicy rye or sweet dark rum.

– Fred Lunt


Oliva Cain Nub Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 460 (4″ x 60 Rothschild)
Strength: Medium – Full
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres
Filler: Dominican Republic & Mexico
Binder: Mexican San Andres

nub cigars guide oliva cain nub maduro cigar review BIN

Construction: Dark and solid.
Draw: Excellent.
Pre-light flavor: Earthy.
First Few Puffs: Pepper and earth.
Base flavors: Earth, leather, pepper, charred wood, black currants.
Aroma: Strong.
Burn & Ash Quality: Pretty solid.

nub cigars guide oliva nub cain maduro cigar review tz
Oliva gives Cain Maduro the Nub cigars treatment; explosive flavor ensues. “Very strong and wickedly earthy,” per Zman, enough to leave him loopy. Click for more.

Summary: You know, I’ve smoked every one of the Nub cigars before, but one – I’ve never had this Cain Maduro before, and it’s a good thing I had a solid lunch (prosciutto with fresh mozzarell’ and roasted peppers) because this dark little stick of dynamite packs one hell of a wallop. It’s like Joe Pesci’s character, Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas: diminutive in stature but will whack the hell out of your palate. This is what happens when you take a truckload of Nicaraguan triple ligero and wrap it with an almost black San Andres Mexican wrapper, and dude, you’d better be ready for the ride.

The entire smoke is very earthy, and the ligero along with the Mexican outer leaf delivers a peppery, charry, leathery profile. What’s really nice is about halfway thru you’ll get distinct notes of black currants and anise which turn this powerhouse sweet and wickedly flavorful. The construction is solid and you get a great draw with every puff.

Here’s the deal: The Cain Nub Maduro is strong and explodes with heavy flavors, and if that’s your kind of smoke, you’re gonna love it. But, if you’re a Baccarat or Macanudo fan, I advise that you don’t walk down this dark alley because you will have to go and get your shine box.

– Tommy Zman


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Turo Saldana
4 years ago

I always thought nubs were just 6×60s cut in half. So in my thinking they wouldn’t last as long so why even buy them. Not the case. They last just as long of even longer. I’m definitely a fan of them now.

1 year ago

Maybe i am wrong, but isn’t that sweet spot in a cigar that some speak of, the result of smoking the cigar to that point. The flavor developing as you smoke it and sometimes when you hit the last half or third the flavor becomes oh so sweet, deep, note worthy.
Nub cigars are good but by the time they reach the sweet spot, you got to nub them out.

Cigar Advisor Staff

Cigar Advisor Staff


The Cigar Advisor Staff is comprised of three good-humored, yet dangerously unpredictable writers who share over 60 years of premium cigar smoking experience. Traversing the tobacco landscape like smoke-shrouded Avengers, they wander (mostly because the fat one ate the map) in search of new leaf adventures armed with nothing but torch lighters and runcible spoons as their weapons. Each is equally knowledgeable on the matters and pursuits of the cigar lifestyle, with his own unique and capricious insights on various luxury, sports, automobiles and entertainment affairs - all served with good counsel for your reading pleasure.

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