Brand Owner: Oliva Cigar Company – Miami, FL
Factory: Tabacalera Oliva S. A. (Tabolisa) – Esteli, Nicaragua
Model/Vitola: Oliva Serie V (Ligero Especial) Torpedo
Size: 6.0 x 56
Wrapper: Nicaragua (Habano Sun Grown)
Filler & Binder: Nicaragua (only specially fermented Jalapa Valley ligero)
Body: Medium to Full
MSRP: $6.75 USD
Cigar Insider Rating: 94 (September 2007)
Cigar Aficionado Rating: 94 (December 2007)
Cigar Aficionado Rating: 93 (2007 Top 25 List – January 2008)
Six other vitola sizes available
- Double Robusto 5.0 x 54 (robusto grande)
- Belicoso 5.0 x 54
- Double Toro 6.0 x 60 (toro grande)
- Special V Figurado 6.0 x 60
- Lancero 7.0 x 38
- Churchill Extra 7.0 x 52
All sizes come in dark lacquered cedar boxes of 24, packaged naked with no cellophane sleeves. The Lancero is the exception packaged in boxes of 36. Although I have not seen one, Cigar Insider states the Serie V also comes in a culebra size available exclusively at special events.
The Oliva Family has been growing tobacco for a little over 120 years. Melanio Oliva first grew tobacco in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba beginning in 1886. His growing operations were suspended while he fought in Cuba’s War of Independence. On his return, Melanio resumed his operations and in the early 1920’s his son Hipolito took over. Hipolito cultivated the Oliva family fields for several decades but as Cuba became over-run by communists, the tobacco landscape changed. Hipolito’s son, Gilberto Sr., was born literally across the street from Cuba’s Hoyo de Monterrey factory and following in his fathers footsteps, that is where he first worked in Cuba’s tobacco industry. When Gilberto, Sr. took over the family’s business he shifted from growing to brokering tobacco. In the early 1960’s the pressure in Cuba became unbearable and Gilberto, Sr. left in search of growing conditions that would produce that distinct Cuban taste. His travels took him to Honduras, Panama, Mexico and even the Philippines before he finally found his desired fertile ground in Nicaragua and today the Oliva Family is Nicaragua’s second largest grower of Cuban-seed tobacco.
In 1984 Gilberto, Sr. decided it was time to expand into cigar making for other brands and in 1994 began to produce the first Oliva Family cigar line. After success with their frontmarks in the USA, last year the Oliva’s began selling their cigars in Europe and today Oliva lines are enjoyed around the world. Business is booming!
The Oliva Family.
(From left to right, Jeannie, Carlos, Gilberto, Sr., Jose and Gilberto, Jr.)
Management of Oliva Cigar Company activities is still very much a family affair with Gilberto Sr. overseeing growing, curing, and fermenting operations and Gilberto, Jr. deeply entrenched in blending. Cigar rolling falls under the direction of Carlos. Jeannie and Jose manage marketing, customer relations and distribution operations from the Miami office.
The Oliva Serie V
The Oliva’s have been listening to their customers asking, “Where’s the beef? Love the quality of your cigars but we need more power!” Finally their answer is ready. With a soft-release in June 2007 and official release at the 2007 RTDA the buzz on the Serie V has been high volume. Vice President of Operations, Jose Oliva describes development of the Serie V blend as the most challenging undertaking the company has ever embarked upon. In his opinion, a cigar smoker should feel the strength of a cigar in the stomach and head, not in the throat. Striking the right balance of potency with ultimate smoothness was the goal.
With all of the tobacco for the Serie V grown on Oliva Family Farms in Nicaragua it is the strongest cigar they have released to-date. With maximum production anticipated at 750K per year due to limited availability of tobaccos, they will be quickly be at that level and following a Cigar Aficionado rating of 94, it will be a challenge to stay up with demand. I can see the price on these puppies going through the roof.
Cigar.com claims, in order to be an authorized Serie V dealer, tobacconists must undergo special training from Oliva representatives aimed at providing insight to the sheer power of the blend. This cigar only contains ligero leaf (the strongest variety of tobacco), but is blended so the initial taste doesn’t overwhelm the enthusiast with in your face power. In other words, the Serie V is very strong but can still be enjoyed by individuals who prefer medium bodied cigars. Upon lighting, many may believe the Serie V is medium in body, but as Jose Oliva himself has explained, if you exhale through the nose you will realize the true strength of the Serie V.
Cigar Insider released a vertical tasting of the entire line in September 2007 with the average rating weighing in at a whopping 89.7 points. The Torpedo led the pack with an individual rating of 94 points. CI claims, “The Torpedo was an outstanding cigar, with aesthetics, strength, complexity and many flavors that kept the cigar interesting and balanced.”
From the website …..
Serie V is a complex blend of Nicaraguan long filler tobaccos. Blended with specially fermented Jalapa Valley ligero, and finished with a high priming Habano Sun Grown Wrapper (high priming being closer to the top of the tobacco plant and therefore soaking up more sun). It is blended to deliver full body taste while maintaining an unparalleled smoothness. This flavorful blend exhibits complex tobacco with rich coffee and dark chocolate tones. A subtle and well balanced spice is present throughout.
Bottom line up front …..
Although not the powerhouse I was expecting, the Serie V is a beauty to behold and a premium quality full flavored smoke with balance and finesse sure to become a favorite for many cigar smokers. Definitely the richest and strongest Oliva Family cigar on the market today! My only concern is if the Oliva’s can keep up with demand and thereby maintain the reasonable price-point. As of this writing they are very hard to find in-stock.
The Serie V sports a silky smooth colorado maduro wrapper with no veins to speak of and a small tooth evident over its length. The chubby torpedo is a very solid, tightly packed 56 ring with the conical cap packed too tight IMO. Handsome to look at, the stick feels very nice in the hand. Scent from the wrap is very mild tobacco except toward the foot where there was a slight touch of barnyard. A good whiff of the foot tingled the olfactory and caused a tobacco sneeze. The bunching at the foot shows a healthy amount of dark ligero as advertised (about now the drooling has begun!).
One of the three cigars smoked for this review had a lengthwise crack in the wrap about one and one half inches long located about a half inch from the foot. It caused no burn problems but was unsightly and worrisome. Not sure the stick was properly cared for prior to coming into my possession. This always concerns me when a review is in the offing. I would rather smoke the best sticks and offer a review on the merits. That is part of the reason I smoked three Serie V cigars prior to writing the review. The other part is I just love smoking cigars and probably would have smoked five if they were around.
The clip took some hand strength as I had anticipated. On the first stick I removed about a half inch (half of the torpedo cone) and the draw was very tight. Flavor in the pre-light draw was interesting with a light sweet grass and nuts on the palate. After lighting, the first few pulls on the draw were still too much work so I clipped a bit more (toward the cap end just below the shoulder of the cone) and the draw opened up to perfect. Don’t be shy when clipping this one and you will be rewarded with a fine draw. Remove most of the torpedo cone.
The Smoking Experience
The aroma from the toasting foot is exquisite. Due to the amount of ligero in this cigar, the lighting takes a little more effort. Toast the foot really well before beginning to pull for the light. Initial pulls were very smooth and creamy. So much so I found myself thinking, where’s the bang associated with ligero. No worries. It was coming. I just had to exhibit a little patience. Like the pre-light draw, initial flavors were of sweet grass and nuts with a little pepper on the tongue. About a quarter inch in the ligero twang on the nose arrived in force. At the one inch mark the blend smoothes out to a base of creamy toasted hardwood and earthy leather with slightly sweet notes of vanilla/caramel with some spicy nuances. Over the first 2 thirds the flavor is consistent and then builds in intensity with the entrance of some cocoa and espresso flavors. The finish starts crisply short but builds over the length of the cigar to a long one with distinct flavors of dark, unsweetened chocolate and black coffee.
The ash is light gray and very smooth. Stack of quarters effect is barely visible. It held for me to about two and a half inches and took several solid taps before it fell. Interestingly, the ash is the same color for the wrap and the filler indicating well fermented tobaccos.
The burn is slow and cool with a few bumps developing in the burn line but no torch corrections necessary. This cigar is a dream for smoke rings as the volume of smoke is incredible.
In addition to the wrapper anomaly discussed above, I had other wrapper splits and unraveling in all three cigars for this review. Amazing to me, none of the problems caused the burn to waver but they did detract a bit from the smoking experience. I’m not sure this isn’t a phenomena typical to habano wrappers in general. I’ve had several treat me this way. Just a very sensitive and fragile wrapper leaf.
Smoketime ~85 minutes.
My take …..
I find Oliva Family cigars are generally mild to medium and a little less potent than I prefer. Although the Serie V is most definitely stronger, it was not the monster I was expecting with all the hype and the “Ligero Especial” moniker. I would call it medium to full bodied but for $5, a fine flavorful smoke. I enjoyed it very much. The $5 price tag must have carried allot of weight in CI 94 rating which was a little high IMHO. Most definitely a quality smoke for the price and I can see it becoming very popular in regular rotations if the Oliva’s production can match demand. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
MSRP is $6.75 per stick. Best online price at the moment is Cigar Place at $119.95/24 or $5.00 per stick but as of this writing they are out-of-stock as is the case most everywhere. This is a fine cigar and with the high CA/CI rating don’t hesitate to pull the trigger if you find them available.
I had an online vendor call me and say “We don’t know how your order for these snuck through since we are currently out-of-stock. You must have pressed the submit button just before we updated the website.” @*&#*^^^!%@$$#!!
Like it … Yes
Buy it again … As long as the price remains reasonable
Recommend it … Yes
What others are saying about the Oliva Serie V …..
“It has always been my rule never to smoke when asleep,
and never to refrain when awake.” (Mark Twain)