To smoke, or not to smoke? That is the question of Hamlet Liberation, the third major release from Hamlet Paredes who said: “I wanted to create something different, something liberating.” Made with an Ecuador Habano wrapper over a Nicaraguan-Honduran core blend, did our Review Panel sing its praises? Click now for the answer…
Oliva Baptiste Cigar Review – Video
Oliva Baptiste Cigar Review – Video
Oliva Baptiste cigars are an affordably-priced selection blended and handcrafted by Oliva Cigars in Estelí, Nicaragua. The cigar is named after Jean-Baptiste, the notorious French serial killer from the 1800’s who used a knife on his victims. “Why such a grim reference?” you ask. We have no idea. The real question is: “How good is the Oliva Baptiste Toro?” To see our commentary and get the tasting notes, click on our Oliva Baptiste cigar review video – and be sure to leave a comment.
The Stats: Oliva Baptiste Toro
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 5½” x 54 Oval Pressed
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler & Binder: Nicaraguan
Gary Korb’s Tasting Notes…
Construction and Overall Appearance: Excellent. Beautiful brick-hued wrapper. Oval pressing is perfect. Wrapper shows no obtrusive veins.
Draw (airflow): Good.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Woody, leathery.
Toasting & Light: Excellent. No issues.
First few puffs: Notes of sweet wood and spice.
Aroma: Sweet and fragrant.
Burn / Ash Quality: Good. Ash is mostly grey and quite firm. No major burn issues, though it did slide off-track a bit in the final third before correcting itself.
Base Flavors: Earth, cedar, spice, espresso, and some citrusy notes.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.
The cigar started out with appealing notes of sweet wood and spice. The smoke was thick, smooth, creamy, and well-balanced. Mostly flavors of wood and earthy spice presented themselves in the first act. Later on, a dark coffee flavor edged its way in. As I mentioned in the video, I was also impressed by the cigar’s aroma.
Moving along, the flavors had pretty much all settled-in by the second act. I got mostly flavors of dark wood, earth, espresso and a hint of orange peel. No burn issues to speak of to this point, either. The draw could have been a little better on this cigar. That said, in my previous sessions with the Toro, the draw was perfect, and fortunately, this one opened-up nicely near the end of the segment.
Everything was still riding along smoothly in the final third, and by now the body was running at full-bore, yet the smoke never became harsh or overwhelming. Rather, the flavors remained well-balanced and the sweet wood and spice elements returned for an enjoyable ending.
I had smoked a number of Oliva Baptiste Toros prior to shooting the video, so I kind of knew what to expect. As for this Toro, the smoke was thick, creamy, exceedingly flavorful, and because I did smoke several up to now, I’d have to add that this cigar was impressively consistent. Not a complex smoke, but there are plenty of appealing flavors to make this a very enjoyable late morning, afternoon, or after dinner treat. I smoked it with coffee (cream & sugar) during the video, but it also pairs well with a Tawny Port, an aged single malt scotch, or a long-aged dark rum.
All-in-all, the Oliva Baptiste Toro is a reasonably-priced treat for experienced smokers and those who already have an appreciation for Oliva Cigars. I would also recommend it to smokers who are less-experienced but ready to move-up to full-flavored Nicaraguan blend.
John Pullo’s Tasting Notes…
Construction and Overall Appearance: Both samples I smoked for the Oliva Baptiste cigar review were very firm in hand; well-constructed, with the larger veins of the Habano leaf rolled smooth. One did have a small hole in the wrapper; but even with this minor flaw, it was near the seam – so the Baptistes both smoked just fine. The wrapper is very dark, with a nice oily finish.
Draw: Draw was a little on the tight side, probably a function of the oval press applied to the cigar – so expect some resistance when you smoke it.
Pre-light flavor: Pre-light was heavy on tea, leather and natural tobacco flavors.
Toasting & Light: Took a minute to get this one going – but the burn took off nicely.
Base flavors: With a hearty body up front, the Oliva Baptiste smoked rich and somewhat malty – pepper and spice both set in quickly, along with dark coffee notes, cocoa and a tangy sensation part of the way through.
Aroma: Surprisingly, pretty mellow – usually after a cigar like this, my wife will notice and ask “bet you smoked something strong today, huh?” She didn’t this time.
Burn / Ash Quality: To start, a nice, even burn with a tight, grey-white ash. The burn line strayed from time to time, but nothing that required a touch up.
Consistency: If you want to say consistent in that all the flavors I mention appeared while making my Oliva Baptiste cigar review notes, then yes – but to a widely varying degree, making this pretty complex.
Well, so much for getting my 2¢ in during the panel’s Oliva Baptiste cigar review video…but for what it’s worth, there are a few important things I thought you might be able to take away from my own experience.
The construction is premium all the way: clad in a dark, dark wrapper that glimmers with natural oils, the Baptiste is firmly packed into a nice oval press. Interesting shape – it’s easy to hold in the teeth, not so much in the ashtray. Just something you should be aware of. But overall, I’d call it “snazzy,” as I feel that word is not used often enough anymore. The pre-light is as rich as expected, fat with tastes of earth, tea, and leather tripling up on the natural tobacco taste. If you decide to smoke it, give the Baptiste’s foot a whiff before you light it: there is the faint scent of cedar along with a chocolate aroma, coupled with a hint of what I can only describe as “zoo.” Ready to smoke? Strike the match and light the fuse, boys – this one opens with a bang. Rich and hearty to start, the pepper and spice tastes immediately jump in for the better part of the first inch. Then things get interesting…dark coffee and cocoa appear, lots of pepper, and a tangy quality hangs out in the background. A third of the way through, the pepper lays back; creamy and earthy tastes flow, as the cigar cools off and goes sweet. Then the pepper comes back, followed by the spice – I noticed some pretty hefty transitions from time to time throughout the smoke.
The burn behaved for most of the time, only veering off track a bit from time to time. If that’s a big deal to you, give the Oliva Baptiste a little rest in the humidor before you smoke it – otherwise, power through and go with the flow, as it’s more of a minor inconvenience than anything else. Just give it time, turn it in the ashtray and rest it occasionally and the Baptiste should straighten out nicely.
You like ‘em beefy? Then Baptiste says, “Come to poppa.” A nice array of flavors, good smoke output, somewhat creamy – all with a heavy, lingering smoke that finishes way long. You might even feel some nicotine zing as the smoke wears on – so sit back and enjoy this, as the Baptiste will last you an hour plus if you take your time.
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Jonathan Detore’s Tasting Notes…
Construction: This is a pretty unique cigar. The oval press makes this cigar’s shape flat on the front and back while the sides are still rounded for a little bit of a more compact smoke without sacrificing the draw, as well as a more comfortable mouthfeel as you smoke. The technique was utilized perfectly, with a gorgeous oily wrapper, rolled exquisitely.
Draw: I believe 2 of the many Baptiste cigars I’ve smoked had a tight draw. Other than that, I’ve never had a problem on the draw with this brand.
First few puffs: Sweet cedar, a small blast of spice, and some sweet creaminess hits you in the first inch or two.
Base flavors: I would say cedar and spice are the only two base flavors that last throughout this entire cigar. Everything else comes and goes, which is a true testament to the complexity of this cigar.
Aroma: The aroma certainly fills the room, but in a good way. The sweet, rich tobacco aroma rounds out the smoke entirely. It’s like the cherry on top.
Burn/Ash: The ash really hangs on to the smoke, with a dark grey coloration. The burn can get a bit wavy at times, and I’ve had one really bad canoeing issue before, but other than that, it’s almost always spot on.
Balance of Flavor: No one flavor overpowers another, making this very well balanced.
Since I first tried it on its release day, this cigar is a winner for its flavor, construction, and price point. This is a full flavored smoke, to be sure, that ramps up in both flavor and intensity as you progress down to the head of the cigar, starting as a spicy sweet treat before transitioning into a rich and full bodied smoke towards the end with notes of espresso, earth, and dark chocolate. If you’re a newbie, take your time with this one and watch how the strength affects you. Everyone else, have at it.
Positives: Almost everything.
Negatives: The burn can get wonky because of its unique shape, but again, it’s fairly rare.
Tommy Zman’s Tasting Notes…
Construction and Overall Appearance: Smooth Oval Pressed
Draw (airflow): Excellent.
Base flavors: Cedar, Cinnamon, Spice, Cocoa
Burn / Ash Quality: Solid.
I think the best thing you can say about cigars made by the good peeps at Oliva is their unwavering commitment to consistency. They start with top-of-the-line tobacco, then blend and roll their cigars like masterpieces. Well, those good people in Nicaragua have done it again with the introduction of the Baptiste, a beautifully oval-pressed stick with a dark, golden brown wrapper.
It’s full-bodied and full flavored with an amazing natural sweetness that comes from delicious notes of cedar and cinnamon that lingers on the palate throughout the entire smoke. There’s also a really nice component of spice and a little bit of cocoa that comes through. It reminds me of a slightly mellower version of the Serie V; in fact, it may be its first cousin.
The overall appearance is smooth and silky and that oval pressed shape feels great in both your hands and mouth. The construction is of course flawless as in all Oliva-made cigars, which makes for a wonderfully smooth draw that billows with thick white smoke.
The Baptiste is a great choice for both experienced smokers who appreciate full flavored cigars, as well as a nice choice for less experienced smokers who want to try slightly fuller smokes and expand their palate. Go for it… it’s really good.
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