A few years ago I went to my one and only cigar event, a Cigar Aficionado Big Smoke evening at the Venetian Resort on the Las Vegas strip. I waited in the lines, met a few cigar stars, and went home with my swag. It was a good time, but not anything I’d go out of my way to do again. Crowds and noise are just not my thing.
But I do have one outstanding memory from that nicotine-powered, liquor-soaked evening: in the stygian gloom created by hundreds of cigar smokers a stout gentleman walked by me as I was waiting in line (a mob, really) at the La Aurora booth. He was smoking something so distinct and powerful that the aroma found a way through the thick cloud in the room to my nose, which was tickled and might have even twitched. I followed him around the corner and when he stopped to chat with someone I discreetly peered at the cigar in his left hand: an Oliva Serie V.
And I thought, Wow. That’s one I’m going to have to try.
In the four years or five years since then, the Oliva Serie V has become a staple in my humidor. I’m wary of its potency, which is a little outside my comfort zone, but I’m willing to smoke them slowly and carefully in exchange for the intensity of their flavor.
One way to mellow a powerful cigar is to stash it away. And though I have come to the conclusion that most cigars do not benefit greatly from aging, there are a few exceptions, and those exceptional sticks are all fairly strong blends. So when I opened the humidor and spotted an Oliva V Lancero with yellow cello and a 2008 sticker on it, I had to give it a go.
We found some problems with cracking wrappers in our original review of the Serie V, but I have never experienced that with the lancero. In fact, I have experienced no construction issues with the lancero at any time, not even the occasional tight draw to which cigars with narrow ring gauges are prone. And this one was no different.
Overall excellent construction.
Four years in hibernation have mellowed this cigar to an appreciable degree, but the blend is robust enough by design that it is “mellow” only by comparison with the original article. It begins with a cool and creamy demeanor, gradually heating up as the familiar flavors start rolling in: sweet smoky hardwood and leather in balanced proportions.
The mid-section adds a dose of cocoa which slowly turns darker and more roasted in flavor, eventually coming to resemble espresso or dark roasted coffee.
The last stage is peppery, but it’s not quite as explosive as it once was. There is also an unusual aftertaste to this cigar that I always enjoy — it’s earthy, but slightly herbal, almost like basil.
This slight-looking parejo still makes me a little weak in the knees when the cinder meets the band. The years have slowed the Oliva Serie V lancero down a bit, but not all that much. It’s still a brilliant cigar, and a great candidate for aging.
By an odd coincidence, Oliva just announced a new extension of the Oliva Serie V — the Oliva Serie V Melanio, which will feature a Sumatra seed wrapper grown by the Olivas in Ecuador. The only thing I’m not looking forward to is the price — $8 to 14, their most expensive offering to date. Time to raid the piggy bank again.
Final Score: 90