Oliva Cigars have seen some changes in the last few months — the “O” Classic has become the Serie O, the Grand Cameroon has become Serie G, and a couple of new blends are out as well: the Serie S (with a sungrown Ecuadorian wrapper) and this one, the third release in the Master Blends series. I’ve seen it dubbed “Master Blends 3 Liga Maestra” in a few places. It sounds nice, but since liga maestra means “master blend” in Spanish it’s also a little redundant.
I wonder sometimes if there could be a statistical correlation between the length of the name of a cigar and the price…
The Master Blends are small batch cigars using leaf that is grown in limited quantities. Often a tobacco grower will want to experiment with a new seed or a new soil and grow a small crop under untested circumstances to see what results. The crop isn’t large enough to create a full blown production line of cigars, but if the result is good it might wind up in a small batch cigar like this one.
So each release of Oliva’s Master Blends is an entirely different blend. I was lucky enough to sample the MB 2 last year and rendered my somewhat lukewarm opinion in a KOTF post at that time. The MB 3 is a totally different cigar.
Made by Tabacalera Oliva in Nicaragua with a binder and filler from Nicaragua and a sungrown Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, the robusto is pressed and presented in the classic 5 x 50 size. There is also a slightly fatter double robusto with a 54 ring gauge. In appearance the MB3 looks quite similar to its previous incarnation, except it is missing the laser etching below the band. (That was a classy touch, but maybe a little too much.)
The wrapper used here is a very even shade of brown with no prominent veins. It has a smooth velvety texture as opposed to the oily character I often find with high end cigars. The cap cuts cleanly and the draw proves just about perfect. It lights up easily and burns perfectly straight all the way: excellent construction in all respects.
The MB3 robusto starts out with a nice volume of smooth chocolatey smoke with a spicy but short finish. I was expecting a little more sweetness from the broadleaf wrapper, but it’s surprisingly vegetal. There is just a touch of sugar here, but not what I expect from broadleaf. (Admittedly, most broadleaf is fermented to a maduro state, which brings out more sugar. This is plainly a much less processed wrapper.)
It strikes me as medium bodied, but it’s played at full volume. With the assistance of superb construction this stick produces huge clouds of smooth smoke. The second third of the cigar slides into woody territory and becomes a bit rough on the tongue and the back of the throat. At the same time, the finish becomes unaccountably less spicy.
By the beginning of the third and last act I’m detecting coffee flavors and a slight return to the chocolate and cocoa that started this story. As the denouement unfolds, a few shreds of paper are littered about and the curtain falls with a slightly sourish wave goodbye.
Overall, I think this third “Liga Maestra” is superior to the second version. Its chocolate and coffee flavor profile reminds me a little of the Carlos Torano Signature line, but the Master Blends 3 has an edge in the complexity department. At a suggested retail price of 9.00 USD, however, I’m going to pass judgement in favor of the Signature. At this price, the MB3 is just a little out of my Liga.