I know a guy who smokes Flor de Oliva Gold and only Flor de Oliva Gold. No matter how I try, the guy will not give up his FOGs. He’ll gladly accept a cigar from me, say an Ashton Cabinet (he’s a good man, he deserves it) and when he’s done he’ll say, “Yeah, that was a good cigar.” And then he’ll pull a Flor de Oliva Gold from his pocket and grin at me as he lights it up.
The Oliva Cigar Company has been in the forefront of the industry for the past couple of years, introducing its smash hit, the Serie V, and experiencing more growth than would be expected during a global recession. Part of their success lies in providing quality cigars at a reasonable price; but part of it also lies in innovation and reaching out to new smokers.
So in 2008 the company took a walk on the mild side and began development of a new cigar that would appeal to newer smokers and fans of milder-bodied smokes. Up to this point, Oliva had no Connecticut-shade blends in its premium portfolio — broadleaf, yes, but not shade.
One other difficulty had to be surmounted: Oliva works with primarily Nicaraguan leaf. Nicaragua is known for full-bodied, full-flavored, powerhouse tobacco — pick up an Oliva Serie V and you’ll see what I’m talking about. For a milder bodied cigar, the Olivas would have to leave the ligero out of the mix and still come up with a tasty blend using viso and seco leaves only.
In early 2009 the Oliva Connecticut Reserve, Oliva’s only boxed cigar with a Connecticut shade wrapper, was finally ready for release. The wrapper is Connecticut shade grown in Ecuador, and the binder and filler are Nicaraguan. Five sizes are currently in production:
- Robusto – 5 x 50
- Toro – 6 x 50
- Double Corona – 7 x 50
- Torpedo – 6 1/2 x 52
- Lonsdale – 6 1/2 x 44
The Oliva Connecticut Reserve is a debonair cigar with a creamy golden-brown wrapper that has a yellowish cast to it. There is a rare shade wrapper called amarillo, (Spanish for yellow) and while this Ecuadorian Connecticut is not quite that yellow, it is reminiscent of that variety.
This robusto is light in the hand, but it has a firm roll which results in a slow burn. The cap is not an aesthetic marvel, but it is functional and clips easily. One of the great things about Connecticut Shade is how well it burns, and the Oliva Connecticut is no exception, burning level-straight and building a solid dirty-gray ash.
Overall excellent construction.
Oliva’s Connecticut Reserve is a little bolder than many other mild Connecticut Shade cigars in the same class — it’s still smooth and aromatic, as you would expect, but the Nicaraguan filler gives it a zing that other (usually Dominican) shade smokes don’t have. It doesn’t seem quite as nutty either, though that familiar roasty flavor is still in evidence.
The latter half of this stick is woody and has a much longer finish that I would expect from a mild-to-medium shade blend. The smoke texture is still creamy though, with a salty note that blends well with the other seasonings. The aroma is sweet and nutty. The concluding inch, just into the band area, is woody with more cracked pepper and a touch of char.
This is an unusual cigar — it’s not quite mild enough to recommend to a confirmed Macanudo smoker, and yet it has enough flavor to interest some medium-to-full body cigar fans (especially as a morning smoke.) It might serve well as a transition cigar for newer smokers who are ready to move on from the lightweights to bigger flavors. The only caveat here is that it does have a lengthy finish and aftertaste — it’s nothing to compare to most medium-full cigars, but it’s more than some mild cigar smokers might like.
The going rate for the Oliva Connecticut is 5 USD retail. This cigar is worthy of that based on its excellent construction alone, but I still don’t think I’ll be able to convince my friend to switch out his Flor de Olivas for the Connecticut Reserve. Maybe I can interest him in doing a comparison review. I’m sure it will be short and go something like this: “Yeah, that cigar is pretty good, but I can buy two of these for the same price.” And then he’ll pull a Flor de Oliva Gold from his shirt pocket. And I won’t argue with him.
Other Reviews of Note
Walt digs the Robusto for the Stogie Review
Barry gives the Toro a 90 for A Cigar Smoker’s Journal
Richard Bui approves of the Toro for Cigar Inspector
The Stogie Guys take on the Lonsdale
The Toasted Foot recommends the Robusto for all smokers, regardless of strength preference