Cigar Buying Guides

The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to Oliva Cigars

Cigar Advisor’s Essential Oliva Cigars Tasting & Buying Guide

Editors/Reviewers: Jared Gulick, Gary Korb, Fred Lunt, John Pullo, Paul Lukens, Tommy Zman Zarzecki

The Oliva Cigars Backstory

It took three generations and two government revolutions to make Oliva Cigars.

Melanio Oliva grew tobacco in 1880’s Pinar del Rio Cuba; his son, Facundo, would take over for him in the ‘20s working the family tobacco plots until 1959 when Cuba’s government was overtaken by Castro’s Communist Revolution. Change came quickly, causing Facundo’s son, Gilberto, to move the company into buying and selling tobacco.

Within a few years of Castro’s ascension to power, Gilberto left Cuba to find new tobaccos that offered the classic Cuban taste – and like many of his contemporaries, he’d eventually land in Nicaragua. But the idea of making Oliva Cigars would have to wait another thirty years, as the family was forced to weather the Sandinista Revolution. Gilberto & family would finally return to Nicaragua in 1995 to grow Cuban-seed tobacco and produce cigars under the family name.

If you’re not already familiar with the family lineage, it may interest you to know that some of the top Oliva cigars are named for the family’s most influential members, Gilberto and Melanio. In all, there are eighteen core blends in the Oliva Cigars portfolio – and for this guide, we’ve reviewed one cigar from each line to give you an idea of the feel, flavors and nuances of each cigar. Moreover, each of the Advisors has done a side-by-side comparison of both the natural and Maduro versions of these cigars; in other words, we’ve covered all the bases.

Also – if you’re looking for Nub, we’ve got a separate Cigar Advisor Guide for those here.

As always, our smoking experiences are our own; and because finding and identifying flavors is subjective, we recommend you use our notes to decide which Oliva cigars you’d like to try for yourself. If you’re already an Oliva cigar fan, we’d like to know about your own Oliva experiences, so please leave a comment at the end of the post.

Oliva Serie V 135th Anniversary

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 5½”x 54 Perfecto
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Sun Grown
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Construction: Dark brown, well-rolled, and with a uniquely tapered shape that provides a dynamic smoking session.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Dark fruit, spices, and wood.
Toasting & Light: Surprisingly tame with a big emphasis on coffee.
Base flavors: Coffee, brown sugar, earth, and natural tobacco sweetness.
Retrohale: Stout notes of pepper with sweeter undertones of tobacco.
Aroma: Warm, spicy, and reminiscent of nutmeg.
Burn & Ash Quality: Excellent burn and ash, no issues.

Review excerpt from CA Cigar Panel Review 2/11/22

You’d think based on how cigar ring gauges affect their taste and strength that this Oliva would be stronger up front, but paradoxically, it’s mellower and gets stronger as it burns. Flavors start with an extra-large serving of coffee notes with a sprinkling of nutmeg, brown sugar, oak, and earth. There’s some spice, but not a whole lot of pepper.

Toward the halfway point, Serie V 135th Anniversary is loaded for bear, boasting a natural sweetness that tastes a lot like Corojo, some mineral-like nuances, and a finish that’s somewhat tart.

For the tail end of this Oliva session, a callback to the original coffee flavors, more brown sugar, and an earthy finish that’s refreshing and sweet. I loved it and there’s nothing more to say except that I hope Oliva decides to make this a permanent Serie V vitola instead of a merely limited edition run. In other words, “shut up and take my money.” – Jared

Oliva Serie V Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Torpedo (6″ x 56)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Sun Grown
Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa Valley Ligero
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Excellent. The wrapper is entirely even in milk chocolate color with some vein marbling, but no obtrusive veins. The cigar is well-packed with no soft spots. Cap is multi-seamed and well-applied.
Draw: Excellent.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): A faint hint of leather.
First few puffs: Sweet and creamy with a peppery finish.
Base flavors: Tangy citrus, earthy spice, charred oak, pepper.
Aroma: Spicy
Burn / Ash Quality: Excellent. Burn is exceptionally even and well-paced with a thin carbon line. Ash is quite firm with marbled grey colors.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.

Observations: This cigar had more tanginess in the citrusy department than I remember, which made it a nice surprise. I was also impressed by the burn, since some figurados tend to have issues, but this cigar was so well put together it burned at a nice steady pace giving me over two hours’ worth of comfort.

Oliva cigars Oliva Serie V Torpedo cigar review

Summary: Let me start by saying that despite the creamy-smooth draw of this Oliva Serie V Torpedo cigar, it is full-bodied. It’s also pretty complex, especially when you don’t push it too hard. In addition to the base notes of citrus, earthy spice, charred oak and a hint of pepper, you may also find dashes of espresso and cinnamon in the mix. More for the experienced cigar smoker who can appreciate the finer nuances of this cigar, I recommend pairing it with a long-aged single malt, bourbon, or dark rum. Finally, this cigar likes to settle-down by your side like a loyal pup, so make sure you’ve got plenty of time for it, too. ~ Gary

Oliva Serie V Melanio Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5″ x 52)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Even though the chocolatey brown wrapper has slight mottling, it is satiny, smooth and beautiful – the slight box-press is nice.
Draw: Excellent, with just a hint of resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Semi-sweet chocolate, and very salty on the prelight
Toasting & Light: Mucho Ligero – takes a bit to get it started.
Base flavors: Coffee, wood, leather and spice. It gets sweet, too.
Retrohale: Got a big snootful of pepper up in there, plus a charred oak sensation.
Aroma: It seemed surprisingly mellow to me.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burn line never really got straight, but never needed a touch up; had an almost-solid grey ash. Well made.

Summary: Some pedigree notes – this blend was Cigar Journal’s 2013 Best Cigar, and was named Cigar of the Year 12 months later. Here are a few reasons why…

Upon lighting, big thick smoke immediately pours off the Melanio, full of tangy flavors. And from there, gets even more complex: dark spices, dark chocolate (as in the not-so-sweet kind) and espresso show up, and there’s a light lingering pepper that hangs out in the shadows. So does an oaky taste, along with cinnamon. At about 1/3 the Robusto loses some of the initial sweetness.

oliva cigars review serie v melanio

The Serie V Melanio is a beefy and complex cigar – more so than I’ve had in quite a while. Flavors abound, like ping pong balls in a wind tunnel. The sweetness returns in the form of a dried fruit taste, complemented by an obvious leather note. The smoke output is still smooth and creamy, and the cigar leans toward full (but not too full) body. That is, until you get down to the primary band, where it’s banging on all 8 cylinders. The flavors are very layered, adding strong coffee and earth on top of the leather. The salty taste from the prelight returns to make it almost a fermented, balsamic type of taste, and remains heady right up to the end. Could be great with tequila.

Melanio has earned this delicious offering from Oliva Cigars a 91 rating; I can see how. Extremely flavorful. You owe it to yourself to try at least one. ~ John

Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5″ x 52)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: San Andres Maduro
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Again, we have a satiny, smooth wrapper – slightly box-pressed, but with no color variations whatsoever. This Maduro is only a hair darker than the natural Serie V Melanio.
Draw: A little tight.
Pre-light flavor: Thin flavors of earth and coffee.
Toasting & Light: Again, lots of Ligero, plus a charcoal type taste upon lighting up.
Base flavors: Dry spices, earth, leather and nut/seed.
Retrohale: I got a big rush of red pepper this time – a real eye-opener.
Aroma: Nice room note, and a little sweeter than the other Melanio.
Burn / Ash Quality: Excellent – tight white ash, burn line was straight and true.

Summary: I smoked the Serie V Melanio Maduro back-to-back with the “other” Melanio, and found some significant differences between them – primarily that the Maduro is darker and thinner in flavor, and doesn’t sweeten up for quite a while. That surprised me.

oliva cigars review serie v melanio maduro

About an inch in, that San Andres sweetness I’m looking for finally comes on, in the form of toffee across the tongue. Good rips of thick smoke come along with it, and the ash holds really nice. Superb construction here.

If I put these two Oliva cigars side by side, I found myself leaning toward the other Melanio…I didn’t find this Maduro to be as complex. Oh, the flavors sure are tasty enough – but the layers aren’t there in the same way as the Serie V Melanio. This actually prompted fighting words and insults here in the office, with someone reminding me that the Maduro is even more highly rated. So while this one never really blossomed for me, I’d certainly be willing to give it another try in a different size. It’s surprising how different two vitolas can taste – and that’s an experiment I’ll gladly conduct. ~ John

Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2018 Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Double Toro (6” x 60)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Maduro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua Jalapa Ligero

Construction: Portly in weight, its wrapper is milk chocolate brown and smooth with some slight toothiness. The cap has two turns or may even be a double cap.
Draw: Sub-par.
Pre-light flavor: Spicy and a slight molasses note.
Toasting & Light: Salted nuts and dark wood.
Base flavors: Cashews, earth, leather, spices.
Retrohale: Sweet and malty.
Aroma: Salty and smoky.
Burn & Ash Quality: Even burn and solid white ash.
Balance of flavors: Well-balanced.

Summary: Originally released in 2009, Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial went on to become an annual release of limited-run cigars. The blend has since changed from Connecticut Broadleaf to a Mexican San Andres Maduro wrapper, and each year, a different size is unveiled. In 2018, Oliva went with a stout Double Toro of 60-gauge proportions. I’m not usually a large gauge smoker, so let’s see how this one pans out.

The cigar is notably heavy when you hold it and the wrapper has a toothiness that’s hard to detect if you don’t look closely. There’s a spicy and sweet note off the pre-light that reminds me of molasses and its draw is tighter than average. I found out later that my sample had been inadequately humidified, so that may have been the culprit. After ignition, I was awarded with notes of dark wood and salted nuts, which was later identifiable as cashews when more sweetness began to creep in. Even though flavors were great at this point, there was a bitterness on the finish that was a tad overpowering, but as luck would have it, it only lasted about an inch.

Maduro Especial 2018 took a sweeter turn at that point. Pre-light molasses that had since dissipated was making a comeback, and the retrohale was malty and delicious. There was almost no pepper, but spices would pop up occasionally to keep things exciting. The smoking experience summed up in a single word was smooth. As I mentioned earlier, there were some humidification issues with my sample that led to severe tunneling at about the halfway mark. Amid the hassle caused by constant relights and trims, the flavors were still all on par, though I think most of the earthy tones that I perceived were less influenced by the blend and more so by the damper outer wrapper of the cigar. Things continued down this path until the finish, and aside from being temperamental, it was one hell of a good smoke.

Sometimes bad samples are part of the job, but it’s valuable knowledge for you, too. Not every cigar you light up is going to be a gem from start to finish, and this serves as an important lesson; never judge a blend based off one cigar. Factors like humidity, time of day, the state of your palate – all these things influence your overall experience. Someone newer to smoking may have tried this and have been turned off, but the flavors that I encountered told me a different story; one that I’ll have to revisit.

In closing, if you’re a large-ring fan or just love Serie V, but want something a little darker, bolder, and perhaps sweeter, Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial 2018 will step up to the plate and deliver. – Jared

Oliva Serie G Cigar Review (Natural)

Country of Origin: Nicaraguan
Size: Torpedo (6½” x 52)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Cameroon
Filler: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaragua

Draw: Excellent
Pre-Light: Sweet and cinnamon-y
First Few Puffs: Very Nutty
Aroma: Slightly sweet
Burn/Ash Quality: Solid, perfect, light gray
Balance of Flavors: Slight complexity

Summary: The Serie G Natural is a beautiful looking box-pressed stick with a golden Cameroon wrapper that’s smooth and seamless. I had this one late morning with coffee which complemented each other quite well. There’s a very pronounced nuttiness at the start and that flavor continues throughout the smoke as well as having distinct almond notes.

About a third of the way in it develops a nice woodiness and coffee bean component on the palate. There are a few cigars, like the Arturo Fuente Hemingway line, that utilize a Cameroon wrapper so perfectly – and the Oliva Serie G is right up there as well. It produces a sweet aroma and burns perfectly from start to finish.

If you dig a Cameroon leaf around your cigar, this one is a must try. ~ Tommy Zman

Oliva Serie G Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Belicoso (5″ x 52)
Strength: Medium to Full
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Draw: Perfect
Pre-Light: Sweet Cocoa
First Few Puffs: Slightly peppery
Aroma: Toasty
Burn/Ash Quality: Solid white
Balance of Flavors: Great balance of different flavors

Summary: When you hear the cigar-ti-philes yakking about their favorite brands, you don’t usually hear them playing up the G Maduro, but I’m here to change that. This is one hell of a top-notch cigar with so much damned flavor, it’s crazy. It’s a box-press beauty with a flawless, silky smooth Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that is dark and oily. There’s a little shot of pepper upfront upon lighting but that quickly gives way to some delicious notes of black coffee and earth. That broadleaf wrapper starts giving off notes of sweet cedar at about the halfway point and it just keeps on getting better. There’s such a nice balance of these flavors as nothing overpowers, but instead meld together wonderfully.

Do yourself a favor and give the Serie G Maduro a try… I’m betting you start playing it up to your leaf loving buddies! ~ Tommy Zman

Oliva Serie O Cigar Review (Natural)

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (6″ x 50)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Excellent. Wrapper has an attractive Colorado patina. The cigar is well-rolled with no apparent soft spots. Cap is perfectly applied.
Draw: Excellent.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Leather and cedar.
First few puffs: Earthy and woody with a note of sweetness.
Base flavors: Earthy spice, cedar, cashews, and a hint of pepper.
Aroma: Sharp.
Burn / Ash Quality: Excellent. The cigar issues a lot of smoke with an even burn and a thin carbon line. The cigar also burns at a nice even pace. The ash is mostly marbled grey and taps-off easily.
Balance of flavors: Very good.

Observations: Not having smoked one of these in several months, my first observation was that this cigar had a little more pepper on the finish up front, but the woody-nutty base that I like was right in the pocket. The pepper settled down by the midpoint and the smoke was much creamier, too, leaving flavors mostly of sweet cedar and roasted nuts. From that point on, the cigar remained true to the end with a semi-sweet, woody-nutty character.

Summary: The Oliva O Toro cigar is another longtime favorite, and having had a number of different shapes in the O series from Oliva Cigars over the years, the Toro has become my favorite. The smoke is full-bodied but leans more to the medium side of the dial. It’s certainly full-flavored and quite creamy, not to mention an excellent representation of how a well-made Nicaraguan puro is supposed to taste. I would recommend this cigar to cigar smokers seeking a straightforward, non-complex smoke for just about any time of day. I sampled this one in the morning with my coffee and it made a great pairing, but it also goes well with a good Port or dark rum. ~ Gary

Oliva Serie O Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5″ x 50)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Well made. Wrapper is seamlessly rolled and even in color. The cigar is well packed with a nice heft to it. The cap is perfectly applied.
Draw: Good.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Notes of leather and nutmeg.
First few puffs: Earthy and spicy.
Base flavors: Earthy spice, cedar, coffee bean, dark chocolate.
Aroma: Sharp.
Burn / Ash Quality: Nice even burn with an almost invisible carbon line. The ash is marbled grey and a bit less than firm. Ashes broke-off in half-inch nuggets.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.

Observations: This cigar was impressively meaty and issued a lot of earthy smoke with just a hint of dark chocolate sweetness on the finish. Darker flavors emerged in the second half for a much heartier, full-flavored smoke, mostly with notes of earth, spice, and coffee bean.

Oliva cigars oliva serie O Maduro robusto cigar review

Summary: This is one of the Oliva cigars I’ve probably smoked the least, so I had few expectations. Thing is, I was mighty impressed, not just with the fine construction, but the chewiness of the smoke in this Oliva Serie O Maduro cigar. The flavors I was able to identify were earthy spice, cedar, coffee bean, and smattering of dark, semi-sweet chocolate. Not bad for a Nicaraguan Robusto with a fairly lean price point. The cigar burns at a nice even rate offering a few pleasant change-ups along the way, particularly in the last two thirds, and especially if you like a more stout type of cigar. Full-bodied, but in no way overpowering, the Oliva Serie O Maduro Robusto is a good all-around smoke for relaxing with in the afternoon or after dinner. Even the newly-initiated cigar smoker who’s been looking at good Nicaraguan Maduro cigars will see the Serie O Maduro as a welcome find. ~ Gary

Oliva Master Blends 3 Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Torpedo (6 1/2″ x 52)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Broadleaf (Sun grown)
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Draw: Smooth
Pre-Light: Wood & sweetness
First Few Puffs: Very woody with a nice sweet component
Aroma: Dark toast
Burn/Ash Quality: Firm, white and solid
Balance of Flavors: Several core flavors balance so perfectly throughout

Summary: Oh yeah, now THIS is what I’m talkin’ ‘bout, Willis! I like Oliva cigars, and have loved this stick in particular for quite some time – and even though it gets some very high marks, I don’t think it gets all the fanfare that it deserves. This is a top-tier full-bodied premium – a box-pressed smoke with rounded edges whose smooth and luscious broadleaf wrapper is so damned inviting.

It is incredibly complex with notes of espresso, honey, dark cherries and a hint of cinnamon. I paired this one with a belt of Bulleit Rye and dayum, I didn’t want the goodness to stop so I smoked it nice n’ slow for a good hour and a half. If you’ve never tried the Master Blends 3, it’s high on my recommendation list. Honest, peeps, I wouldn’t steer you wrong. ~ Tommy Zman

Oliva Cain Maduro

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6”x 54 Torpedo
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Maduro
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Construction: The seamless Maduro wrapper was smooth, presenting an oily sheen. The cigar was firm to the touch with no soft spots.
Draw: Effortless.
Pre-light flavor: Coffee and earth.
Toasting & Light: Even and straightforward.
Base flavors: Pepper, dark chocolate, coffee, earth.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Sweet and savory.
Burn & Ash Quality: Straight burn with a stable, firm ash.

Review excerpt from My Weekend Cigar 11/2/09

Summary: Once lit, here again, when I touched my tongue to the tobacco at the head, the tobacco tasted sweet, but there was also more noticeable coffee bean flavor mixed in. The smoke was creamy, smooth, aromatic, and more medium-bodied to my palate, not peppery spicy in the least.

The burn was also consistent with the earlier Habano version; clean but leaving a more rounded than pointed cherry.

Moving into the second act, the cigar remained very smooth and sweet, laced with coffee notes, when an appealing nutmeg flavor presented itself. A banquet of sweet spices was the order of the day on this cigar, which also made it more a complex experience for me than the Habano.

Everything about this cigar was on-target right through the last third. I would even go so far as to say it was a “perfect cigar,” not unlike the Quesada 35th Anniversary I smoked last month. Some cigars have it, some don’t, but the Oliva Cain Maduro definitely has it. Smoking it down to about an inch, the cigar never turned bitter, and when I was finally forced to leave it in the ashtray, I wanted another. Suffice it to say, I guess I’m now going to have to pick up a box.

I highly recommended the Oliva Cain Maduro cigars for those curious about “straight ligero” blends, and especially for cigar smokers who love sweet, full-flavored cigars. – Gary

Oliva Cain Habano

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 5”x 50
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Construction: Well-constructed with a smooth wrapper, it’s firm to the touch with even density throughout.
Draw: Moderately tight, offering a controlled and satisfying smoke flow.
Pre-light flavor: Hints of spice and wood.
Toasting & Light: Lights evenly and easily.
Base flavors: Spice and earth. Hints of cedar with a subtle sweetness.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Wood and spice.
Burn & Ash Quality: Burns evenly with a consistent ash.

Summary: As the Cain Habano is baptized by fire, the initial draws are dominated by a robust spiciness—setting the tables for a white-knuckle ride on the ligero express (and remember, more ligero means more nicotine—so it’s best to enjoy this smoke on a full stomach). The initial bite of pepper is bold, and soon followed by an undercurrent of earthy and leathery tones—offering a promise of what lies ahead.

Moving into the second portion, the peppery spice mellows slightly, allowing the rich flavors of coffee and dark chocolate to come into bloom. And then, as if from nowhere, cedar jumps to the head of the line to lead us into the finale.

In the final stages, the Cain Habano reaches its crescendo. Remember those leathery notes—they were subtle at the beginning but now emerge from the shadows to fuse with the lingering spice and rich earthiness. Throughout, the Oliva Cain Habano maintains balance in the face of an onslaught of nicotine and its full-bodied flavor profile. – Paul

Cain Daytona

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 5”x 50
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Construction: Sleek, smooth wrapper, cigar was firm yet pliable to the touch.
Draw: Smooth and easy.
Pre-light flavor: Grassy and nutty notes.
Toasting & Light: Quick and even.
Base flavors: Spice, earth, nuts.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Earthy and woody.
Burn & Ash Quality: Consistent and even burn with a solid, grey ash.

Summary: My initial pulls on the Cain Daytona reveal a deep coffee flavor that immediately snaps me to attention. There’s some baking spice hopping along for the ride with layers of rich tobacco and earth.

As the cigar burns to its midpoint, the core tobacco flavors become more pronounced. The richness is accented by a Chuck Norris kick of black pepper, and while noticeable it enhances rather than overpowers the blend.

In the final third, the Cain Daytona eases off the gas towards a sweet and smooth finish. The subtle ripened fruit sweetness contrasts beautifully with the earlier rich and spicy notes and highlights the Daytona’s smooth character and borderline complexity. Take one out for a spin if you’re looking for a thoroughly enjoyable smoke. – Paul

Oliva Cain F

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6”x 60
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Construction: Sturdy, with a dense oily wrapper.
Draw: Notably smooth without being loose.
Pre-light flavor: Cocoa, earth, spice.
Toasting & Light: Efficient and smooth.
Base flavors: Spice, leather, earth.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Intense and rich.
Burn & Ash Quality: Consistent burn with a solid, dense ash.

Summary: As the Oliva Cain F springs to life amid a fiery birth, my first draws bring a maelstrom of spice– predominantly cayenne pepper. There’s a notable presence of earth and leather which tames the fire and calms the palate. And as the first section draws to a close, a cord of woodiness—both cedar and oak—enters the room to set the table for the remainder.

At about the halfway mark, the spicy intensity mellows a bit, and the earthiness assumes the position of lead dog. There’s also some sweet chocolate and hints of citrus to further balance the blend.

In the final stages, the Cain F really seems to stretch its legs. A new note—vegetal, dare I say bell pepper—comes into play while the spicy notes still linger. The earth, leather, citrus, and woodiness are all present and accounted for, albeit in differing intensities, and take their final bows as the Cain F ends its journey. – Paul

Gilberto Oliva Reserva Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5″ x 50)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Indonesian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Ecuador

Construction and Overall Appearance: Simply flawless on appearance and build. My only gripes were that the draw was a tad tight and about 1 ¼” left the wrapper cracked.
Draw: A little tight.
Pre-light flavor: Sweet cedar and earth on the wrapper, foot is earthy with woods and leather. The cold draw is savory and sweet, loads of cedar wood and a slight tang.
Toasting & Light: Toasty, creamy and sweet with a woody aftertaste.
Base flavors: Cream, cedar, toast, leather, sweetness, and citrus.
Retrohale: Leather, charred wood, and white pepper.
Aroma: Cedar.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burn line holds sharp and the ash is thick, strong, and white.
Balance of flavors: Maintains a mostly sweet and creamy profile contrasted by citrus.
Consistency: All baseline cigars were nearly identical.

General Observations:
About an inch in and this cigar is very sweet and creamy, bit more body with notes of toast, cedar, and a slight herbal flavor.

Not overly complex through the first third.

The zest turns into a slight citrus note that counters the creaminess and adds a pleasant contrast.

Transitioning into the last third a distinct leather note makes its way forward but mostly hangs as an aftertaste.

That creamy buttery taste is the main note, the sweetness has dissipated a bit but the toast, cedar, and zest are intensified and leather is prominent in the aftertaste.

Gilberto Red cigar review oliva cigars

Summary: While I’ve sampled a handful (or two) of this cigar, I have to say that they’ve all been consistent in flavors and construction.

The cold draw brought a savory sweet combination of cedar and cream with a zesty tang to the palate. The initial flavors- super creamy and toasty with a woody aftertaste. By the end of the first inch I found myself reeling from the amount of cream in this cigar- while very sweet like the Blanc, there’s a tad more body to this cigar with a nice toast, cedar, and herbal base of flavors going on.

While transitioning into the second third I noticed some of the familiar citrus-like zest that was so prominent in the Blanc as well. Cream was on full tilt through the second third with a dominating sweetness that reminds me of cocoa and cedar wood while a tang of white pepper hangs in the background. The last third brought a distinct note of leather into the picture, mostly as an aftertaste, while the dominating flavor was a creamy and buttery flavor. The sweetness dies down for a bit but the toast, cedar, and zest are more pronounced. A retrohale brings leather, charred wood and a white pepper spice to the palate. The construction allows for maximum nub-age; as the final puffs find their way home the smoke is savory- very creamy still with cedar, leather and a zesty citrus-like tangy white pepper. Compare this Oliva to the other Gilberto (the Reserva Blanc) and you’ll find a similar smoke, just with a bit more bite. Pair it with coffee or Earl Grey tea. ~ Fred

Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5″ x 50)
Strength: Mild-Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut
Filler: Ecuador
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Flawless
Draw: perfect
Pre-light flavor: Cedar, leather, a slight fruitiness and citrus from the cold draw; the wrapper smells of leather, earth and cedar, the foot of rich tobacco and leather.
Toasting & Light: Very creamy and toasty with a nice white pepper nip and leathery aftertaste.
Base flavors: Honey sweetness, nuts, cedar, white pepper, lemon zest.
Retrohale: Nutty with hints of sweet cedar, toast, and white pepper.
Aroma: A sweet aroma of cedar.
Burn / Ash Quality: Perfect- razor sharp burn and I nearly got away with only ashing once.
Balance of flavors: Nicely balanced – favors flavor over body.
Consistency: This is my 5th or 6th one? They’ve all been very much identical to each other and fantastic construction.

General Observations:
Loaded with cream, toast, nuts, white pepper, leather, and a nice tang.

After a few puffs a honey-like sweet chimes in with the creaminess still rocking and a nice nutty and toasty aftertaste.

Retrohale is very woody, sweet, and herbal with white pepper.

oliva cigars gilberto white cigar review

Summary: Boy it seems like just the other day we reviewed this cigar on the review panel. Chalk up another Gilberto on the board for me- this may be my 8th cigar in the past month and they’re still damn good.

Construction? Flawless. Draw? Nice. Flavor? Creamy and sweet. Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc, while a tad milder than the Sumatra wrapper, holds a creamy flavor profile that’s too good to miss. The start was full of heavy cream with toast, white pepper, and leather. It opened up more by the first third- a honey-like sweetness with cedar, cashews, white pepper, leather, and a tang.

By the second third that zesty tang turned citrus- a plethora of creaminess with that honey, an herbal note, and cedar roam free. By the last third this bad boy was chugging along nice with a perfect burn and snow-white ash. Notes of cream, caramel, lemon zest, and white pepper are going full tilt and the cigar touches on medium, just barely. Those who love Oliva cigars will go bonkers for this cigar- it’s accessible to new smokers, an any time of day smoke that’s loaded with flavor at a sub $6 price. Pair with coffee, scotch, tea or whatever your bag is. ~ Fred

Oliva Connecticut Reserve Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (6″ x 50)
Strength: Mild-Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Excellent. The wrapper is silky in feel, buttery in appearance, and even in color throughout with a well-applied cap. No soft spots were found along the length of the cigar, either.
Draw: Excellent.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Slightly woody.
First few puffs: Smooth and nutty.
Base flavors: Sweet cedar, earthy spice, toasted nuts, coffee bean.
Aroma: Sharp.
Burn / Ash Quality: Very good. The burn was very even with a thin carbon line. Ashes were dark grey with black stripes, reasonably firm, and broke-off in equal half-inch nuggets.
Balance of flavors: Very good.

Observations: Notes of sweet wood, spice, nuts and the hint of dark coffee that I’ve observed in many prior Oliva Connecticut Reserves were all in there, which speaks to this cigar’s consistency over the years. The cigar also transitioned well from a mild start to a solid medium-bodied smoke by the last third.

Summary: An affordably-priced “go-to” when you want the rich, earthy-spice of prime Nicaraguan tobaccos in a milder cigar. Additionally, the Oliva Connecticut Reserve Toro is ideal for newer cigar smokers looking to move into the Nicaraguan cigar realm at low risk with a nice payoff. An excellent choice for relaxing with at the start or end of your day, regardless of experience, and one of the better Oliva cigars for pairing with coffee. ~ Gary

Oliva Baptiste Connecticut

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 5”x 50
Strength: Mellow
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

Construction: Features a smooth and silky wrapper, evenly rolled and firm to the touch.
Draw: Smooth with just the right amount of resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Hay, cream, and cedar.
Toasting & Light: Easy and effortless.
Base flavors: Baking spices, cedar, toast.
Retrohale: N/A.
Aroma: Soft and inviting.
Burn & Ash Quality: Consistent and even burn with a light grey, solid ash.

The first few rips of the Oliva Baptiste Connecticut are dominated by notes of cedar. And it’s not just a drive-by glimpse of cedar—but a consistent presence. Earthiness, subtle baking spice, and a whiff of leather also pop in to say hello during the introduction.

As the cigar burns into the early to mid-stages, creaminess becomes the norm. Also noticeable is a toasty quality that dances with the cedar and cream creating a hard-to-resist flavor profile.

The final third offers little in the way of novelty. The flavor profile is consistent and balanced with cedar, cream, and earthiness as the main characters with the subtle spice and leather playing a supporting role. All in all, Baptiste Connecticut is a prime example of a mellow yet full-bodied cigar. – Paul

Oliva Baptiste Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (5½” x 54)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Habano
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Extremely uniform looking Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with thin, uniform veins; the oval press has a nice mouth feel.
Draw: Nice and smooth.
Pre-light flavor: Wrapper has earth and hay; foot is earth, leather, hay and pepper. The cold draw brings more hay and barnyard to mind with a rich leather, cedar, and a spice I can’t quite put my finger on.
Toasting & Light: A rush of pepper, toast, dark bread/grains, and herbs start things off.
Base flavors: Black pepper, sweet, bread, chocolate, coffee, earth.
Retrohale: It’s a sinus cleanser alright, a rich sweetness with cedar and loads of pepper.
Aroma: Woody and sharp.
Burn / Ash Quality: Some flagging issues that I fought with, but nothing major. The ash is solid and chalky-white.
Balance of flavors: Smooth, but leans on the peppery side.
Consistency: This one seemed much stronger than Baptiste cigars I’ve smoked in the past.

General Observations:
The pepper dials down from the initial puff and gradually gets sweeter.

The first third features black pepper filled smoke with a honey-like sweetness plus bread and herb linger.

The smoke is nice and intense- full bodied and peppery but a good balance.

Last third is giving me a bit of a nicotine rush- whoo!

baptiste by oliva cigars cigar review

Summary: I’m pretty biased towards this cigar; I’ve been loving the Baptiste since it came out, so it is what it is folks. For starters, this cigar looks great – the oily and veiny Ecuadorian Habano wrapper looks very distinct on this cigar. The oval press has a nice feel, though I did have some flagging issues – those quite rarely happen on these cigars.

Baptiste starts with a rush of pepper, toast, and dark breads and grains – full-bodied from the get-go. The draw is nice and smooth as a black pepper and honey-like sweetness take the front stage and is backed up by notes of bread and herbs. While intense, there’s still a good balance of flavor so as not to feel overwhelmed. The second third takes on more pepper and while the sweetness is more subtle, nuanced flavors start to show themselves: leather, earth, malted grains, unsweetened chocolate, and black coffee as well as a general wood. Last third is giving me a bit of a nicotine rush- whoo! I’ve smoked my Baptistes before but never with such a rush.

To bring it home, the last third shifted toward a malted sweetness with toast, cedar, and leather hanging on and the black pepper lingers in the background. As I’m closing this one for the books, I’m definitely feeling the nicotine. There’s a nice spicy-sweet harmony with leather, cedar, and coffee to keep things interesting. It started strong and finished even stronger. Enjoy it. ~ Fred

Oliva Baptiste Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Torpedo (6 1/2” x 52)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: A dark chocolate look with an invisible seam and three turns to its cap.
Draw: Easy.
Pre-light flavor: Airy and light with a hair of grassiness.
Toasting & Light: Savory with a hint of spices.
Base flavors: Leather, cocoa, sweet grass, and spice.
Retrohale: Powerful, peppery and loaded with spice.
Aroma: Peanut butter and sweet wood.
Burn & Ash Quality: Slow burning and steady. Solid ash that needs to be forced off.
Balance of flavors: Superb.

Summary: Named for the infamous French serial killer Jean-Baptiste, the Oliva Baptiste Maduro is a Famous Smoke Shop exclusive brand that’s hand-crafted to bring the Oliva flavors you know and love at a friendly Famous price.

Before it’s lit, Baptiste Maduro imbues a faint, airy grassiness which isn’t at all telling of what’s to come once fire gets thrown into the mix. Toasting gives way to savory flavors and spices as well as the instantly recognizable aroma of peanut butter. After properly lighting the foot, you’ll be granted notes of sweet grass, leather, cocoa, spice, and pepper… Lots and lots of pepper. It’s the kind of cigar that you feel tingling on the roof of your mouth long after you’ve set it down.

With a front-loaded character, Baptiste Maduro starts off quite heavy. It’s certainly not among the strongest of cigars around, but if you aren’t prepared, it’ll sneak up on you when you least expect it – much like Jean-Baptiste would have. Go figure!

Retrohaling is very powerful at this point. The pepper-laden and thick smoke hits you in the belly, but it never seems to make it to your head – which is a good thing in my opinion.

On the way to the second third, things begin to dial back significantly. The pepper is still there, especially in the retro, but it’s not as pronounced. While this persona continues, it only does so for about two inches before it goes back to eleven. From this point forward, the cigar is unrelenting, flavorful, and completely satisfying.

Your experience here may be similar to an Oliva Serie G Maduro, if it was completely unbridled; so if you loved the G’s flavors, but hoped for more brawniness, Baptiste by Oliva Maduro just might be exactly what you’re looking for. – Jared

Oliva Inferno Scorch Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (6” x 50)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: African Cameroon
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction: Cameroon wrapper has a not-quite-consistent tawny brown color; you could call the texture rough, but it is more leathery, and dotted with tooth.
Draw/Burn/Ash: Fair draw produces a consistently light grey ash that stacks neatly.
Pre-light flavor: Earth, coffee beans and a mellow honey sweetness.
Core flavors: Earth, coffee beans, cedar, spice.
Aroma: Sweet cedar.

Summary: There are a couple of cigars you associate with Cameroon: Fuente, H. Upmann, CAO, Cohiba, Partagas…the wrapper has defined some of the most classic premium cigar profiles. The thing with Cameroon wrapper, however, is that it walks a fine line between earthy and bitter; you really do have to try it to see how it hits you. But since Oliva has their own classic entries with Serie G and nub, we wanted to see how Inferno Scorch would stack up.

First few rips of smoke are full up on earth and leather; the Inferno Scorch carries the earthiness over into the first third as a dry-sweet sensation. “Musty” has been a term kicked around by other reviewers smoking Oliva’s Cameroon wrapper leaf, so I’ll go with it here, too. The coffee bean and (now toasty) cedar are still present, as well as a subtle honey sweetness.

At the midsection: sweetness is there, the earthiness is there. But it’s the cedar notes that are driving everything, and where the spice steps forward. That spice carries hangs through to the last third, with the coffee bean sensation making a comeback before the end. Oliva Inferno Scorch has been medium body throughout.

I’ve always preferred a cup of coffee to match with Cameroon wrapped cigar, but the extra Nicaraguan-ness that Oliva has included in the Cuban-seed Habano blend here makes it just as amenable to a full-bodied red wine or a sturdy after dinner drink. This Inferno leans more earthy than bitter – so Scorch can be a very affordable experiment to see if you, too, have a taste for Cameroon leaf without dropping Cohiba or Don Carlos money. – John

Oliva Inferno Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (6” x 50)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua Ligero

Construction: Beautifully constructed dark brown wrapper with neatly-pressed veins and a sturdy cap.
Draw: Slightly tight but still adequate.
Pre-light flavor: Aroma of cocoa and a slightly sweet flavor.
Toasting & Light: Savory and sweet with thick notes of dark wood.
Base flavors: Black pepper, spice, and a sparse sweetness.
Retrohale: Lots of pepper and sweetness that straddles citrus and floral.
Aroma: Nutty with lots of saltiness.
Burn & Ash Quality: Well-seated ash that doesn’t often flake and a nice cone when it does finally come loose.
Balance of flavors: Inferno leans more toward savory, but it does hit on every part of the palate eventually. There’s some great complexity to be enjoyed if you smoke it all the way through.

Summary: This original Inferno by Oliva was initially forged in 2012 from a partnership between Famous Smoke Shop and Oliva Cigars. It quickly grew in popularity and gave way to Inferno 3rd Degree, Flashpoint, and later, Singe and Melt. That all looks great on the LCD screen, but how does it stack up to our review?

After removing the cellophane, I was treated to a cigar that sported a far superior visual presentation than you’d expect from a sub six-dollar smoke. Inferno’s wrapper was milk chocolate brown and the veins were carefully pressed. There were no soft spots or imperfections to note, and the cap was placed far down the head and well-constructed. Admittedly, I straight cut (you’re welcome, Jim) the cigar a little too far down the head, and that would usually end with unraveling, but the craftsmanship didn’t flinch. Before I even lit it up, I’d already found a solid takeaway – Inferno will hold up even if you’ve got a weak cutter game.

Pre-light flavors were sweet, almost like cocoa, and there was a smattering of barnyard with its aroma. After toasting, waves of savory and sweet smoke had a dash of dark wood thrown into the mix, setting Inferno up nicely for its first act.

The first half of the cigar was more savory than the second. There were little nuances here and there of pepper (which revved up along with some sweetness on the retrohale), some spice, and a complementary nutty note on the finish. The base sweetness didn’t make its comeback until much later, well into the second half, but at this point, the savory notes were drier, maybe with a tinge of bread or grains.

As I made my way to the foot, there was none of the bitterness that normally peeks out toward the end of many cigars, and I found this to be a nub-able stick. Not too long before this review, John Pullo, our managing editor, noted that there’s a difference between a cheap smoke and a value smoke. He was right then, and Inferno is value all the way down. – Jared

Oliva Inferno Flashpoint Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Torpedo (6 1/2” x 52)
Strength: Medium (listed Full)
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua Ligero and Nicaragua Jalapa

Construction: Dark brown with prominent veins and a sturdy cap.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Sweet and slightly grassy with a barnyard aroma.
Toasting & Light: Savory and woody with a grainy finish.
Base flavors: Roasted nuts, oak, earth, and sweet grass.
Retrohale: Peppery and salty.
Aroma: Woody, warm, and slightly spicy.
Burn & Ash Quality: Very well constructed with a solid ash and a semi-even burn line.
Balance of flavors: Expertly balanced with sweet and savory notes.

Summary: Handcrafted by Oliva and exclusive to Famous Smoke Shop, Inferno Flashpoint is the sister cigar to the original Inferno by Oliva. The inclusion of an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper and Jalapa-grown fillers gives the expectation of a full-bodied cigar that smokes with a sweeter profile, so let’s see how it pans out.

The cold draw offers sweet and grassy notes that are underscored by a distinct barnyard aroma. With the addition of fire, savory and woody notes are thrown into the mix, to balance the sweetness now residing on the finish. Within the first inch, two revelations become clear. First, the cigar is not full-bodied. At least from my perspective it’s medium, with one exception; the retrohale is very powerful and peppery. Second, the construction of the cigar is first-rate, as evidenced by my photo of the cigar standing on its ash. It might seem like a cheap parlor trick, but it’s actually one of the hallmarks of a perfectly rolled cigar.

If you don’t believe me, try doing this at home without losing your ash:

After about an inch or two inward, the savory knobs get a bit cranked with hints of roasted nuts and oak, and the sweetness becomes more of an afterthought. From this point forward, there aren’t many more changes aside from the occasional sprinkling of sweetness.

Inferno Flashpoint is assuredly a sweeter smoke than its original Inferno sibling, and it will comfortably suit anyone who’s looking to step up their flavor game. If the profiles within Oliva’s portfolio have been pleasing your palate, pick up one of these for pennies on the peso! – Jared

Oliva Inferno Flashpoint Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Torpedo (6 1/2” x 52)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Maduro
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Well-rolled and consistent in its Colorado Maduro coloring, with three turns to its pointed cap.
Draw: Great.
Pre-light flavor: Salt and raisins.
Toasting & Light: Savory and woody.
Base flavors: Wheat, dry nuts, pepper, and spices
Retrohale: Peppery and salty with a grassy sweetness.
Aroma: Pleasant and nutty.
Burn & Ash Quality: Marbled white and grey ash that is firm with an even burn line. The ash got flaky at times after the second inch.
Balance of flavors: Large palette of flavors with great balance.

Summary: With the ever-growing popularity of Maduro-wrapped cigars and the popularity of the Inferno lineup, it’s no surprise that Flashpoint would eventually get the dark side treatment. This is my last Inferno sample for this guide, and up to this point, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the smokes I’ve sampled. My expectations are high, so will Inferno Flashpoint Maduro live up to them?

My pre-light was exceptional. I should start off by saying that I used a unique cut on this cigar. Since it’s a Torpedo, I first straight cut the head, and then V-cut that cut, and the smoking experience it provided was unique. As there was much less surface area from which to draw, the cigar smoked much cooler and the flavors I identified were more pronounced. The cold draw offered an essence of salt and raisins, and maybe even a flash of wheat.

After bringing Flashpoint Maduro’s foot to a glowing, red orb, more tastiness, as well as strength, began to pour in. There were notes of dry nuts, pepper, and spices all of which were amplified by a stout retrohale that housed some echoes of sweet grass that were sometimes veggie-like. So often, Maduro-wrapped cigars are coined as chocolate bars, but those characteristics tend accompany Broadleaf varietals, at least to my taste buds. This cigar is evidence that there are stark differences in Maduro flavors among wrapper leaves.

At the second inch mark, the ash started to get intermittently flaky, but the flavor was unaffected, and in fact, as the cigar burned, it continued to get better. The power had throttled down as the cigar settled in for its second act. At that point, the cigar was leaning spicy sweet and it continued this way until it reached the band. Usually, Torpedo cigars offer a shorter third act as the nature of their tapered head brings more heat and burns the cigar out faster.

So… To whom is Inferno Flashpoint Maduro best suited? It is on the stronger side of the equation, but I’d still recommend this cigar to anyone who wants to go full-bodied for the first time. Even with it being slightly front-loaded, the flavor to power ratio is overwhelmingly weighted toward flavor, so I don’t see this hitting an intermediate palate too hard. Furthermore, if you’re a full-bodied fan who is tired of pepper bombs that exist for the sake of being pepper bombs, this will suit you well with a sweet Knob Creek bourbon. – Jared

Oliva Inferno 3rd Degree Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (6” x 50)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: Well-constructed and toasty brown with a solid cap.
Draw: Slightly tight.
Pre-light flavor: Citrus, grains and sweetness.
Toasting & Light: More sweetness.
Base flavors: Dry nuts, leather, bread and grains.
Retrohale: Pepper and syrup-like sweetness, almost like molasses.
Aroma: Spicy and warm.
Burn & Ash Quality: Firm, grey ash with a very thin burn line.
Balance of flavors: There is balance, but only if you retrohale.

Summary: When it comes to low-cost cigars, Oliva is on their game here…The Inferno series has brought us stick after stick of delicious flavors for the shallow-pocketed cigar fan, as well as for those of us who don’t let price tags determine what tastes great. Inferno 3rd Degree is the third installment of a long-standing partnership between Oliva and Famous Smoke Shop, so let’s see if its reputation precedes it!

The pre-light flavors of Inferno 3rd Degree were filled with some grain-like nuances along with a citrus sweetness that dissipated once fully lit. As the cigar settled in, a touch of dry nuts, leather, and bread began to take center stage.

There was a thick, syrupy sweetness through the nose that was loaded with ample shots of pepper, and I have to say that it was incredibly delicious. There are some who say that you can’t enjoy a cigar without retrohaling, but I’ve always disagreed. I think it’s more accurate to say that you can’t enjoy all of a cigar’s flavors without it. That being said, Inferno 3rd Degree, to my palate, is much better with the occasional nasal hit. If you were looking for a cigar to try through the nose for the first time, this might make you a convert. If you want to learn how to do that, we’ve made it pretty easy!

If for any number of reasons, retrohaling isn’t a possibility, you may find that your experience is leaning toward one-dimensional. And while some of you reading may think that this fact is a negative, there are plenty of enthusiasts who prefer a single-act cigar. In either case, pull up a comfy chair and pop open your favorite bottle of sweeter spirits because Inferno 3rd Degree has something for everyone! It’s certainly worth puffing at its price. – Jared

Oliva Inferno Melt Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Box-Pressed Robusto (5” x 50)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Habano
Filler: Nicaragua

Construction: A chocolate-brown thick and leathery wrapper with nicely pressed veins and two turns to its cap.
Draw: Smooth.
Pre-light flavor: Floral and sweet.
Toasting & Light: Sweet, meaty, and woody.
Base flavors: Meaty, chocolaty, and an alkaline earthiness.
Retrohale: Thick, earthy, peppery, and spicy.
Aroma: Peanuts.
Burn & Ash Quality: Burns straight and true with a good ash quality.
Balance of flavors: It starts out sweet and ends on a sweet and salty note.

Summary: Inferno Melt is a cost-friendly premium handmade that comes from the same deft hands that roll your favorite Oliva cigars. Is this bargain-bin beauty a gem or a dud? Let’s light one up for review and find out!

Right out of the gate, Inferno Melt throws a whole lot of flavor your way. Within the first few puffs, I’m greeted by a refined meatiness, notes of chocolate, and an alkaline earthiness that’s zesty and sweet. Everything about the cigar is rich and robust except for the strength. It’s listed as a full-bodied smoke, but to my palate, it’s more of a medium affair. And that’s an enormous plus. Unless you’re smoking solely to get gut-punched, more flavor with fewer repercussions is almost always welcomed.

After passing the first half, the cigar’s earthiness is decidedly more present. Before this point, I was typically detecting it on the finish, and now floral notes are beginning to crop up here and there as well. Retrohaling, which started out as thick and peppery is now smoother and sweeter. My experience with this is reminiscent of some of Oliva’s higher-end, limited release blends. If you love their top-tiered flavors, but not the top-tiered price tags that follow suit, Inferno Melt may just end up finding a home in your humidor. – Jared

Oliva Inferno Singe Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5” x 50)
Strength: Medium-to-Medium Plus (listed Full)
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano Sun Grown
Binder: Nicaragua
Filler: Nicaragua Habano

Construction: A slightly reddish brown and oily wrapper that’s near seamless in its craftsmanship.
Draw: Effortless.
Pre-light flavor: Spicy and sweet with a coffee/cocoa finish.
Toasting & Light: Graham cracker sweetness with coffee grounds.
Base flavors: Dry nuts, spice, saltiness, and a cookie-like sweetness.
Retrohale: Peppery and floral with a salty finish.
Aroma: Spicy, nutty, and sweet.
Burn & Ash Quality: Faint grey ash that holds fast.
Balance of flavors: Very well balanced and complex.

Summary: Inferno Singe, like the rest of its fiery-themed brethren, is a full-bodied value stick designed to conjure imagery in your brain that serves as a warning (or a beacon depending on your palate) that these devilish cigars mean business. All we know is, they’re made by Oliva, exclusive to Famous, and pretty dang tasty. Does Singe live up to its reputation? We shall see!

Toasted, Singe imparts the essence of graham crackers and coffee grounds, an uber-enticing welcome to its flavor profile. The cigar is decidedly complex, and its roller coaster ride starts off sweet with hints of coffee and cocoa for the first two inches before transitioning into a saltier evolution.

At that point, most of what was in the mix was dry nuts and maybe a dollop of leather. I could taste the salt on my lips, and my experience continued this trajectory until the final third. For its prestige, Singe combined the initial sweetness I loved so much with the balancing of the savoriness that had followed, and the melding of these two characteristics was euphoric. While the graham cracker nuance never quite re-emerged, a cookie-ish sweetness took its place and the salt remained on the finish.

As my cigar wound to a close, each flavor intensified and instead of fizzling out, as do so many cigars at this point, this one had me reaching for tweezers.

The more I smoke of the Inferno lineup, the more of an impression they make in my mind. It’s easy to forget that these smokes are dollars to donuts, but I’m not complaining. If you want a solid entry point into the world of Oliva without busting your bankroll, Inferno Singe will bring flavor to the table and then some. – Jared

Georges Reserve by Oliva Cigars Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Churchill (7″ x 48)
Strength: Mild-Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Cameroon

Construction and Overall Appearance: Smooth and satiny wrapper; the packing is average, the shape at the foot is a little off.
Draw: Some resistance – we’ll see if this becomes an issue.
Pre-light flavor: A strong hay note, with a fresh or “green” flavor to it – some oak and earth, too.
Toasting & Light: Quick to light, but it’s easy to scorch the wrapper, so be careful.
Base flavors: toast, wood and subtle sweetness, like a dried fruit – spice and pepper, too.
Retrohale: Adds a nip of pepper to a charred wood sensation.
Aroma: Gary said it smells like pot. I disagree.
Burn / Ash Quality: A just-ok burn line, and the ash is straight gray.

Summary: Another “starter smoke” candidate from Oliva Cigars. I get a flinty, pencil lead type of taste off the start – then the Georges Reserve heads into the base flavors I describe above. There’s a darker, drier taste to this Connecticut; it’s not overly complex, but certainly is more consistent throughout.

The smoke output is on the thinner side, but thickens up by the halfway mark. As it does, along comes a wave of mild black pepper plus some dark coffee. The woody retrohale flavors remind me of the inside of a charred barrel. From there, this Oliva is on cruise control to the finish.

If you just like the mild taste of a Connecticut cigar that maybe has a little something extra to it, Georges Reserve is worth exploring. No wild flavor swings, and smokes straight as an arrow, taste-wise – give it a try to see if it makes it into your rotation. ~ John

Flor de Oliva Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (6″ x 50)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Sumatra
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Well-built for a value-priced cigar. Wrapper has a matte finish, no excessive veins, almost invisible seams, and a sweetened cap that’s also well-applied.
Draw: Very good.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Mostly sweet due to the sweetened cap, and a little woody.
First few puffs: Sweet with hints of cedar and spice.
Base flavors: Nutmeg, cinnamon, cedar.
Aroma: Sweet.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burn was very good. Ash was fairly firm and very light grey, almost white in color.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.

Observations: First, there are several things about this selection that should be noted based on my prior experience with this cigar: Flor De Oliva cigars are rolled as firsts, not seconds or overruns. Only this selection among all of the Flor de Oliva lines has a sweetened cap. The sweetener is so lightly applied, depending on how deep you cut, you may hardly taste it at all. That said, it doesn’t have an artificial sugar taste; it’s more like simple syrup and tends to fade by end of the first third.

Summary: The smoke issues a delectably sweet and earthy spiciness with dominant notes of nutmeg and cinnamon that cling to a cedary base note. Interestingly enough, the well-balanced flavors are helped along by the sweet cap rather than being interfered with – at least in the first third. The rest of the cigar is on its own and remains quite consistent down to the nub.

Truth be told, I’ve smoked hundreds of them over the years, and they’ve never failed me, which is why I’m still recommending them to new cigar smokers as well as more experienced smokers who want a great everyday value – like right here and now. ~ Gary

Flor de Oliva Gold Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (6″ x 50)
Strength: Mild
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: A rustic, ragged Connecticut that won’t win any beauty contests – but a nicely applied cap.
Draw: Great – the fill seems somewhat loose; seems these beginner Oliva cigars are fast burners.
Pre-light flavor: Combo of hay and dry leaves, plus bread.
Toasting & Light: Very fast, with a couple of runners appearing right away.
Base flavors: Underlying sweetness, a little buttery.
Retrohale: Tried a few times; there’s not much to speak of.
Aroma: Pretty light and toasty.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burn is a little wonky, but corrected itself without touching up. The salt-n-pepper ash holds on surprisingly well.

Summary: Is it the finest Connecticut leaf money can buy? Of course not. This is a $3 cigar – but what it lacks in looks it makes up for in thick and lacey smoke. Nice aroma, too.

Opens with that typical dry Connecticut taste, but that goes away after an inch and is replaced with buttery and spicy sensations, along with a wood note. The spice is something that just pops in to take a bite every now and again, just so you don’t get too used to the idea that this is a straightforward, mild cigar. A touch of earthiness arrives. The Gold is a little out of balance between the dry and creamy flavors, going back and forth; the last 3rd is all cedar. With an inch or inch and a half to go, it begins to harsh up a bit, more or less telling me it’s time to put it down.

All in all, the Flor de Oliva Gold is a fantastic starter cigar candidate from Oliva cigars, showing off more simple flavors that even a beginner can pick out. And given the price, one I’d surely recommend to the new folk. ~ John

Flor de Oliva Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Toro (6″ x 50)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Construction and Overall Appearance: Very solid construction, good amount of weight to the cigar. Wrapper is a coffee brown with very fine veins.
Draw: Tight.
Pre-light flavor: Wrapper: earthy, moss, cedar. Foot: pepper, leather, earth, cocoa. Cold draw has chocolate, dark fruits and malt.
Toasting & Light: A mild sweetness with a bready/toast component and cedar wood…there’s even a subtle charred oak component.
Base flavors: Semi-sweetness, black pepper, charred oak, cocoa, leather, coffee.
Retrohale: Sharp flavors of black pepper, wood, cocoa right to the front, and a spike of nicotine.
Aroma: A mix of earth and wood.
Burn / Ash Quality: Burn line holds sharp; the ash is a grayish white – a tad flaky but mostly solid.
Balance of flavors: While the balance tended to shift a few times between sweet and savory, overall, I would say a balanced cigar that embraced flavor instead of nicotine.

Summary: One of the more budget-minded Oliva cigars, Flor de Oliva Maduro is a great example of a mild-medium Maduro.

Opens with flavors of black pepper, malted chocolate, black coffee, a semi-sweetness and oak. By the second third the sweetness takes more of a backseat to more savory notes of black pepper, wood, charred oak, and even a little meatiness.

In between the second and final third- the sweetness dominates the palate but notes of oak, leather, pepper, coffee, and cocoa are still there, but somewhat muted. The final third goes sweet and creamy- the smoke is getting beefy as well.

Bottom line: a simple, straightforward and wallet-friendly Maduro from our friends at Oliva Cigars. This is my first Flor de Oliva in the Connecticut Broadleaf, but I hope there’s more to come of this. ~ Fred

Flor de Oliva Corojo Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Robusto (5″ x 50)
Strength: Medium to Full
Wrapper: Corojo
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

Draw: Smooth.
Pre-Light: Wood and sweetness.
First Few Puffs: Cedary and earthy.
Aroma: Dark and woody.
Burn/Ash Quality: A darker gray but pretty solid.
Balance of Flavors: Solid notes throughout.


Let’s call this one what it is – an Oliva Cigars value stick – but trust me when I say that having a really low price sure as hell doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some seriously good flavor.

flor de oliva corojo oliva cigars review

The Flor de Oliva Corojo is not complex by any means, but I don’t always need to taste the full gamut of a Thanksgiving cornucopia to enjoy a smoke. That nice reddish wrapper has that patented Corojo sweetness and the Nicaraguan inside gives it that full-flavored earthiness it’s known for. Yeah, it’s in a bundle, but don’t get all snobby on me because there’s a place and time for this cigar and it’s definitely worth giving a try. ~ Tommy Zman

El Cobre Double Fuerte by Oliva Cigar Review (Discontinued)

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: Corona Gorda (6″ x 48)
Strength: FULL
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

cigar advisor essential review guide to oliva cigars - el cobre (discontinued) Construction and Overall Appearance: El Cobre has a little bit of a rumpled look – a toothy Maduro with nice seams, and very consistent in color.
Draw: Very nice.
Pre-light flavor: This thing even smells strong. Big earth flavor on the cold draw; it tastes of a heavy fermentation, almost like peat or charred wood. Lots of dark, smoky flavors here.
Toasting & Light: El Cobre actually lights up pretty quick.
Base flavors: There’s some complexity here…pepper, light herb and nut; these are eventually overtaken by a lighter coffee taste, leather and graham/cinnamon plus a sweeter light cocoa or caramel.
Retrohale: First retrohale is slightly floral; some spice later on, then…there it is – I tear up like after having a big dash of wasabi. Wow.
Aroma: Very sweet and enjoyable.
Burn / Ash Quality: Relatively tight ash with no flake, and a salt/pepper consistency. Carbon line is a little wobbly, but burns tight like a champ.

Summary: Ever get psyched out because you’ve heard how strong a cigar is supposed to be? That’s El Cobre – I’ve been told it’s the strongest cigar in the Oliva Cigars lineup, and supposedly the family’s private blend. The size is listed as a Toro, but at 6×48 it’s closer to a Corona Gorda. Think a too-short Churchill. This is smaller than my usual preferred size, but I’m all in since I heard this one had some serious gusto.

Surprise: El Cobre definitely favors flavor and variety over just sheer intensity.

Thick, cool smoke is laced with pepper – El Cobre has very long but clean finish, if that’s even possible. Interesting that the cold draw flavors aren’t present while smoking it; they’re replaced with a much more refined oakiness, nut and leather, which progress through a decent amount of complexity. Eventually I find it reverts to some of the original flavors.

I’ve retrohaled milder/lighter cigars than this, and they had more pepper in the nose than the El Cobre – in the beginning, anyway. Even as it got peppery, it was still very smooth for a Double Fuerte.

This Oliva has the kind of smoke that coats the mouth. With 2” left, the El Cobre gets super-full. Buzz time. Even more intense after I had to relight it. Smoke it slow and steady, or you’ll get the burps like I did.

As I said, this cigar was supposedly born out of the private blend for either Gilberto or Jose Oliva – if El Cobre were a movie, I’d call it Full and Fuller. If that’s how you like your cigars, put it on your to-do list without hesitation. ~John