Cigar Advisor Panel: Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc Cigar Review (Video)
By the Cigar Advisor Staff
Today we’re taking a closer look at the first new brand added to the Oliva lineup since 2012’s Melanio – Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc – and we’re putting it to the test in this edition of the Cigar Advisor Review Panel. Get our notes and our reactions, and watch the video below to see if a 5 year wait for new this new Oliva has been worth it.
The Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc Cigars Back Story
Named for the Oliva family patriarch, Gilberto Oliva. Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc cigars are one of two new Gilberto Oliva Reserva cigars. What’s interesting is this selection was originally announced as the “Facundo Reserva”; Facundo being Gilberto Oliva Sr.’s father and the son of Melanio Oliva, for whom one of the Serie V lines is named. The Facundo name was abandoned as the result of a trademark conflict with Bacardi Rum, handing over the spotlight to Gilberto. The Reserva Blanc line is offered in five popular shapes each presented in boxes of 20 cigars; we’re reviewing the Reserva Blanc Robusto.
The Stats: Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc Robusto
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 5″ x 50
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Presentation: Box of 20 cigars.
Gary Korb’s Tasting Notes…
Construction and Overall Appearance: Excellent. The wrapper is beautifully oily, a bit darker in color than other Ecuadorian “shade” wrappers, and virtually flawless with a triple seam cap. The tobaccos are also well packed, giving this cigar a nice feel in the hand.
Draw (airflow): Excellent.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Leather and citrus.
First few puffs: Earthy and sweet with some nutty notes and a smack of citrus.
Base flavors: Earth, cedar, sweet spice, citrus (like orange peel), and nuts.
Retrohale: Smooth and lightly peppery.
Burn / Ash Quality: Excellent. Almost perfectly even with a thin carbon line and no issues. Ash is light grey and firm enough to stand-up for a couple of inches, depending.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.
General Observations & Summary
As a regular smoker of Oliva Cigars through the years, the Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc Robusto presents another fine example of how a well-made Nicaraguan cigar is supposed to taste. From the very first puffs, this cigar offered a pleasing sweetness with notes of earth, cedar and orange peel. The smoke is smooth, creamy, and builds to a solid medium-bodied smoke rather quickly, then settles-in with some savory surprises along the way, including some roasted nut flavors, honey, and a smack of light pepper on the retrohale.
Both my baseline cigar and the cigar I smoked in the video were virtually identical in flavor and complexity, which says something for consistency. Compared to other Oliva cigars that have a Nicaraguan core and Ecuador Connecticut wrappers, like the Oliva Reserve Connecticut, the Gilberto is more refined and complex, making it ideal for smoking just about any time of day. You’ll probably get the most benefit from this cigar with your morning coffee – at least I did, but try it with a good Port or dark Rum in the evening, too. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Fred Lunt’s Tasting Notes…
Construction and Overall Appearance: Handsome looking veiny wrapper, very oily and smooth. Triple seam cap looks great.
Draw: nice and easy.
Pre-light flavor: Foot: earth, leather and hay. Pre-light: a savory barnyard with leather and earth.
Toasting & Light: very toasty, bready and nutty with cedar and a white pepper bite.
Base flavors: Honey sweetness, nuts, cedar, white pepper, lemon zest.
Retrohale: A cashew-like nuttiness followed by sweet cedar, toast, and white pepper.
Aroma: woody and sweet aroma with a hint of cedar.
Burn / Ash Quality: The burn is razor sharp so far and ash is a mid-gray white and very solid. Construction on this was fantastic, no burn issues. I only ashed twice- yes it was long, the burn line stayed straight the entire smoke.
Balance of flavors: An equilibrium of both body and flavor, medium body is leveled out by loads of sweet and creamy flavors.
After the initial toasty puffs Gilberto turns toward the sweet side. The retrohale really brought the general flavors into clarity. There’s a nice creaminess that’s complemented by a lemon zest flavor and a subtle herbal note. As the sweetness shifted toward a caramel note, the white pepper kicked up and the last third became a pleasant sweet and spiced smoke while herbal cinnamon, lemon, toast, and white pepper were very prominent.
Construction and burn were flawless- I nubbed this bad boy.
Going down the line, the construction on the Gilberto Oliva Robusto is fantastic. I smoked four cigars for a baseline (I do my homework) and not only did each burn perfectly but there was not one issue in any of them. The Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper had a nice oily sheen to it with very fine veins. The retrohale took a very savory note of barnyard with leather and earth- very counter to what I tasted upon toasting. As the cigar opened, a general sweetness dominated alongside toasty and nutty notes at the heel and a sweet cedar and general tanginess on the tongue.
As the first third progressed, a nice creaminess shined through the sweetness. After a retrohale the flavors became vastly more distinct- the sweetness became more honey-like and the nuttiness shifted to a cashew nuttiness and the aforementioned tang became a lemon zest flavor. That nip of white pepper hangs along in the background, giving this cigar the right amount of zip- but a far cry from a peppery cigar. The second third continues the sweet honey-like flavors while the lemon zest makes a great complementary note. The Gilberto was still heavily putting out heavy notes of toast and cashew as well as a subtle herbal note. By the last third the body was just touching on medium while the flavors intensified. The sweetness was more of a caramelized sweetness while the white pepper kicked things up a bit- making it a nicely balanced spicy-sweet smoke. A cinnamon-like herbal note became more prominent and the smoke was thick and creamy with that zesty kick to top it off.
Overall, this cigar is perfect for any time of the day- a nice mild-medium cigar that will complement most coffees or teas and maybe even a mellow glass of scotch.
The smoke is smooth, creamy, and builds to a solid medium-bodied smoke rather quickly, then settles-in with some savory surprises along the way. ~ Gary Korb
John Pullo’s Tasting Notes…
Construction and Overall Appearance: Such a nice looking honey brown Ecuador Connecticut wrapper, with a perfectly consistent color throughout. Has one or two large veins that have been tamped down, and a decent but not great cap.
Draw: A little tight.
Pre-light flavor: Dried leaves and cream. I’ve sensed tea in a lot of Connecticuts I’ve smoked lately – this one almost has it.
Toasting & Light: It took some serious toasting to get this Gilberto Oliva Blanc lit.
Base flavors: Opens papery – some pepper later on, but more leathery than buttery. Gets sweet halfway through.
Retrohale: Some dry spices are present but not overwhelming, mellows into something herbal later on.
Aroma: Warm aroma, somewhat sweet.
Burn / Ash Quality: Nearly white ash, with some flake – holds strong. Burn line was wonky until halfway.
Balance of flavors: The needle didn’t move a ton in the beginning – the Gilberto Reserva eventually developed some complexity, but not a wild ride of ups and downs in flavor.
I’ll call the Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc a slow starter – took some work to get it lit, and the flavor payoff was delayed in coming. That’s a big change from some of the more frontloaded cigars we’ve been reviewing lately. Decent smoke output, which is a general quality I keep coming back to in this cigar: decent. Into the second portion, that’s where one of the layers started to come in. First, some tanginess; then, some sweetness, but only little bits at a time and not overly intense. The cigar finishes out on cruise control from there.
Adding the Gilberto Blanc makes three Connecticuts in the Oliva lineup, after the Connecticut Reserve and Georges Reserve (and they’re all Reserves, too). I’d call this more refined than the Georges, and more on par with CT Reserve – same price point, too – but the Gilberto Oliva Blanc burns a little less woody, and with cooler flavors overall. To me, leather is a “cool” flavor, while butter is what I’d consider a “warm” flavor. This would be nice paired with a simple black cup of coffee.
To sum it up, I think this Gilberto has potential – and if I were to develop a taste for them, I might consider putting this in my list of a half dozen or so choices for when I’m looking for a decently flavored Connecticut.
Tommy Zman’s Tasting Notes…
Pre-Light: Sweet wood.
Burn-Ash Quality: Solid, perfect, light gray.
Balance of Flavors: Not overly complex but several standout flavors .
Now for a guy like me, this Gilberto is just the perfect morning cigar – mainly because later in the day I like fuller bodied sticks. But for those of you who regularly smoke mild to medium, you are going to enjoy the hell out of this any time of the day.
The reason I really like this new Oliva offering is because although it sports an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper leaf, the cigar packs several pronounced flavors that make it tastier than your run-of-the-mill mild Connecticut. It pairs wonderfully with a nice fresh cup of coffee in the morning and even with your eggs and toast.
So, about those flavors… right off the bat and throughout the smoke I get delicious hints of citrus, almost like orange and lemon peel. It’s not overpowering by any means, just incredibly pleasant. There’s also notes of cedar that lend to the natural sweetness of the taste as well as the aroma, which is very fragrant. There’s just a slight hint of white pepper that gives it a bit of spice and a hint of coffee bean as well. Construction wise, it’s impeccably rolled which accounts for the excellent draw and firm ash.
So, for me, as I said, this is a terrific early in the day smoke and there are several in my humidor just begging to give their all. And yes, I believe I will take them up on their offer.
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