Cigar Buying Guides

2021 CA Report: Top 12 Best Rated Oliva Cigars

Famous Customer Picks: 12 Best Oliva Cigars

Passion plays a role in the making of any premium cigar. But few lean in on the rich taste of their signature Nicaraguan tobaccos like Oliva, making it common to hear “flavor” and “quality” in the same breath as their brand. Oliva’s reputation has earned them space in millions of humidors worldwide for dozens of their cigars: some top shelf, many highly rated, all very well regarded.

oliva cigar tobacco field
Oliva Cigar tobacco (via Oliva Cigar Instagram)

Today, we’re looking at the top 12 must-smokes from Oliva, as chosen by Famous Smoke customers – along with a few of the reasons why they’ve earned such hearty praise.

A (Really) Brief History of Oliva Cigars…

Oliva Cigars are made in Nicaragua; they followed a long and winding (and occasionally bumpy) road to success since Melanio Oliva first put seed in the ground 120+ years ago.

Three times throughout the family’s history, Oliva’s tobacco operation would be disrupted by war and unrest: first in the mid–1890s, when Melanio (the first Oliva to grow tobacco in Pinar del Rio, starting in 1886) halted cultivation to fight in the Cuban War of Independence. His son, Facundo Oliva, would take over in the 1920s, until business was again hampered by the invading Communists. Once Castro seized power, Facundo turned to his son Gilberto, who moved the family out of Cuba, and transitioned their business into buying and selling tobacco.

gilberto oliva family cigars
Gilberto Oliva (via

After stops in Honduras, Panama, Mexico and the Philippines, Gilberto Oliva would finally land in Nicaragua – where he would be forced to weather the Sandinista Revolution that started in 1978.

It actually wasn’t until 1995 – in the middle of the Cigar Boom – that Gilberto would make an Oliva cigar, rolled for him at Plasencia’s factory in Honduras; he would open his own factory in Nicaragua one year later. After many years of success, the Oliva Cigar Co. was purchased by J. Cortès Cigars N.V., in 2016; Gilberto passed away in December 2017 at the age of 86.

About Our Top-Rated Oliva Picks

Given that they’re a heritage company with so many highly scored brands, there’s no shortage of positive words for Oliva’s cigars – so I upped the threshold to a minimum of 10 customer ratings for a cigar to be included in this list.

Oliva cigar and drink on Instagram
via Oliva Cigars Instagram (@olivacigar)

As with all of our guides based on cigar ratings, I remind you that we are particular about how ratings and reviews should be considered in your decision to buy a cigar: We all taste things differently, so even if an “expert” tells you a cigar is good, you still may not like it. That’s why I personally follow a “crowdsourcing” theory about whether a cigar is any good: if three, four, five people tell you the same thing, that should be evidence enough to tell you that a cigar is living up to its reputation. And I have found that of all the voices out there, the most honest assessments of all come from our customers.

On a side note, I’m saving the Oliva Nub ratings for a future Guide – until that happens, you can check out our Cigar Advisor Guide for those here.

Is your favorite Oliva cigar missing from this list? Comment what it is and why you like it below – and be sure you’ve rated it at! The more people talk about why they like/don’t like certain cigars, the more it helps other cigar smokers – including me – find the sticks that suit our palate.

Serie V Melanio Double Toro – 5 Stars by 29 Customers

You’ll note that some of Oliva’s top tier cigars are named for the most prominent family members; this 6×60 on the luxury end of their lineup honors the Oliva who started it all. Most voices agree: not only is this our highest rated cigar from Oliva, but some form of Serie V or Serie V Melanio has placed in more Top 25 lists than it hasn’t. It’s also factored into many of our best-of lists, like Best Top Shelf Cigars, Top After Dinner Cigars, Top Sumatra Wrapper Cigars, Top Rated Big Ring Cigars…the list goes on. All the love is for a blend that leans primarily on aged Jalapa Cuban seed and well-fermented Ligero. Yes, it’s robust – but with strength comes rich flavors, primarily warm spice, roasted nuts, and dark chocolate.

Serie O Torpedo – 5 Stars by 14 Customers

A Habano (Cuban seed) puro, Oliva went classic Cuban here and planted the same tobacco seeds in different regions of Nicaragua: Condega, Esteli and Jalapa. The wrapper is Habano, too, though it’s grown in Ecuador. As body and strength move from medium to full, the notes appearing throughout the smoke include, but are not limited to: cedar, leather, ground coffee, hearty Nicaraguan spice and “a suggestion of sea salt.” While this 5-star stick may have flown under your radar, those high ratings should twist your arm.

Serie G Torpedo – 5 Stars by 12 Customers

Other Cameroon cigars you may have smoked usually include mellower tobaccos…while that makes for a more reserved smoke, it’s also relying on the wrapper to do all the hard work. Oliva takes their blend in the opposite direction, layering that genuine Africa-grown Cameroon over Habano long fillers for a deeper, more complex cigar. On various occasions we’ve sensed cedar, sweet spice, earth, coffee, and tangy citrus inside that creamy smoke.

What makes this Torpedo extra special is that it’s box pressed – a bit of a surprise, given how delicate Cameroon wrapper can be. Looks and tastes pricey, but is actually quite affordable. And medium–bodied means it’s a great pick if you’re just dabbling in premiums.

Serie V Double Robusto – 4.5 Stars by 65 Customers

Ah, the famous Serie V...this is Oliva’s award-winning blend of Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos, presented here in a portly 5×54 format. But besides the size, the secret to this Double Robusto’s success seems to be the “specially fermented Jalapa Valley Ligero” in the recipe. Serie V is renowned for notes of citrus, sweet spice, earth, charred oak, and pepper; more developed palates may even pick up espresso and cinnamon. This is a cigar about which many highly spirited noises are made; but boy, it really does live up to the hype. And it would be even higher up on the list if you included the Double Robusto tubo format.

Oliva Connecticut Reserve Robusto – 4.5 Stars by 44 Customers

You’d expect that a Connecticut might underwhelm the palate, and there wouldn’t be a whole lot to talk about when the subject of flavor came up. That’s what makes the Connecticut Reserve a bit of an outlier here: it’s a Connecticut, but because Oliva has matched it with their Nicaraguan tobaccos, this well-respected smoke offers plenty of cedar, earth and nuts. There’s even a pinch of sweet spice in that velvety smoke. Probably Oliva’s most approachable blend.

Master Blends 3 Robusto – 4.5 Stars by 36 Customers

While Serie V and Melanio usually hog the spotlight, Master Blends 3 quietly takes an artisanal turn. Heavy and full in body, flavor and aroma, this recipe is designed as a very forward expression of Nicaraguan Ligero long fillers and Broadleaf wrapper. And expressive it is, with flavors of spice, aged cedar and earth, plus a dusting of brown sugar. Also leading to this Robusto’s high scores: it’s box pressed to squeeze the most flavor possible out of the blend.

Flor de Oliva 8×52 – 4.5 Stars by 32 Customers

So how does an everyday budget smoke earn high marks? If you’re Oliva, start by going back to your first-selection Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos. Wrap it in Indonesian Sumatra, then sweeten the tip just a little bit. Flor de Oliva boasts a sweet & savory profile (earth, cedar, dash of pepper) that’s long been touted as a cigar that Oliva could put in a box. Really shows Oliva’s commitments to quality, and to keeping it affordable. If your tastes run more to the Maduro side, try the Flor de Oliva Maduro 6×50; a close runner up, but shines in the slightly smaller size.

Serie G Maduro Robusto – 4.5 Stars by 30 Customers

It’s the counterpart to Oliva’s Cameroon-wrapped favorite, but there’s more to this Serie G Maduro than just swapping in a dark n’ oily Broadleaf. Instead of smoothing out the Nicaraguan tobacco’s rough edges like the other Serie G, the Maduro version adds a few shots of pepper to the mix. It also leans more on the spice and cedar levers, along with black coffee and earth (at least, that’s what we found). Judging by the positive feedback, it seems this blend is best enjoyed in the 4 1/2x 50 box pressed Robusto; but we’ll leave it up to you to decide.

Cain 550 Habano – 4.5 Stars by 30 Customers

It’s takes a special set of taste buds to appreciate the Cain Habano…and those that do are quite vocal about this Robusto. Billed as “Straight Ligero,” two things make it smokable: one is the little bit of lower priming (seco and viso) tobaccos to the blend; without them, the cigar wouldn’t burn. The other is the triple fermentation, with the tobacco going through three cycles to cut out any harsh flavors.

If you’re asking out loud, “Why would Oliva make such a strong cigar like this?” It’s because some guys love the muscle-y stuff, and this Cain Habano is “the lid to fit the pot.”

Serie O Maduro Churchill – 4.5 Stars by 13 Customers

The stars come out for this cigar’s thick rips of smoke, full of earth, coffee bean, cedar, and spice. On paper, the Serie O Maduro would seem to speak to the experienced smoker. But from experience, I think this Oliva is more like the perfect set of training wheels to get you ramped up to smoking fuller-bodied cigars. Meaty and full-flavored, the chewy smoke from this O finishes with the dark chocolate sweetness you’ve come to expect from a carefully fermented Broadleaf. A very affordable after-dinner cigar, and a very nice alternative to Serie V (above) if you’re just looking for something a little different.

Cain F 660 – 4.5 Stars by 12 Customers

The idea behind Cain F is simple: pack it with Ligero. Lots. Like, over 80% of the blend. The leaves are so thick and oily they barely combust. Then just keep bunching more and more until you get up to this 6×60 Gordo size. What’s interesting about Cain F (and the Cain Habano, above) is this general impression people have of Ligero, that it’s just about strength. Yeah, it’s got power – but it’s also packed with very dense flavor. And once you figure in the part where bigger sizes like this 660 burn a little slower, it all makes this extra-full–bodied smoke easier to manage, without giving you the sweats.

Baptiste Double Toro – 4.5 Stars by 10 Customers

Lots to tell about Baptiste, but a small space – so I’ll let one of our reviewers convince you: “I can’t believe this kind of quality cigar can be offered at these great prices but as a cigar enthusiast on a budget I am grateful.” Even if they consider the mouthfeel of a box press a turnoff, people enjoy this blimpy 6×60 shape in particular because the large RG is rounded down by a soft box pressing (technically, an oval press). The smoke is rich, maybe a little malty…then there’s pepper, spice, and dark coffee notes. You might even notice a tangy sensation from time to time. It’s not a beginner’s blend, but it’s a nice step up from the more so-so strength cigars you’ve been smoking lately.