Review: Oliva Serie V Melanio

Well, there’s a reason this cigar is on my list. Hello…it was Cigar Aficionado’s #1 cigar of 2014 (#8 in 2016). I know, as if yet more heaps of praise from my little corner of the cigar cosmos will do this little gem justice. Well, I hope so. And yes, it is difficult to say something decidedly unique about this little delicacy from a heralded tobacco family like Oliva.

The cigar’s namesake, Melanio Oliva, first started growing tobacco in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba in the 1880s. After he fought in and survived the War for Cuba’s independence, he continued his operation and passed the duties onto his son, Facundo, in the 1920s and in the 1960s, it was passed onto Facundo’s son, Gilberto.  Like many tobacco growers in post-Castro Cuba, the Oliva operation moved to the rich and fertile lands of Nicaragua and have become the 2nd largest grower of Cuban-seed tobacco.

Oliva family

© Oliva Cigar Family

Full disclosure, I’ve not been an Oliva fan in the past. After a disappointing Saison and a Serie O that left me shaking my head, I kind of backed away from other Oliva offerings. To be fair, the Saison was a Cigar of the Month Club selection and it wasn’t in great shape. I also think that my palate was still very naïve to appreciate some of the complexity and nuances, one of the challenges of learning to appreciate cigars. I plan on giving them another shot.

I got the Melanio online as part of premium sampler after reading some reviews. It sat in my humidor for several months before I finally liberated it. I’m pretty sure I ignored it for so long because of my previous record – I’m 0 for 2. But this is a winner, right? Ok it’s also box-pressed and it’s a robusto. That’s 3 strikes folks. Anyone who knows me know I eschew box-pressed cigars with few exceptions. I also prefer longer cigars (6.0”) and larger ring gauges as well. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and this little Serie V was going to join me. Just me and a legend.

OlivaMelstock

The Ecuadorian wrapper is a beautiful caramel color with nearly invisible seams. The build is exemplary with a nice uniform firmness and no soft spots. The aromas from the foot and shaft are nutty and woody with hints of coffee. This is billed as full-bodied babe but so far you could have fooled me. I decided my punch was a bit too big, even though this is a 52 RG. So, a deft shallow cut with my XO did the trick. The cold draw was easy and offered light spice, maybe some maltiness and sweet espresso.

Here’s the stats:

 

  • Profile: Full
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • Length / Ring Gauge: 5.0″/ 52
  • Purchased: Online retailer
  • Origin: Nicaragua
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Binder: Nicaraguan
  • Filler:  Nicaraguan
  • Cutter: Xikar XO Cutter
  • Lighter: Colibri Firebird 4-jet
  • Price Range: $9 -$11

The first third is a wonderful mix of bold, silky flavors with a woody/cedar profile punctuated by toasted almonds and espresso. There is some sizzle in this little gal and its wonderful. Some maltiness comes into play as well. The burn is nice and even and slow with a near white ash. Take your time with her and don’t rush her.  The second third she gets a little playful with a bit more nuttiness and a very light spice. Still, the flavor and silky smoke is rich but doesn’t feel like a bomb went off in your mouth.

Oliva99

Once into the final third she’s made me forget about her Saison and Serie O siblings. Sins of the past cannot inhibit the experience to which the Melanio is treating me. More espresso and cedar with subtle hints of tang, maybe citrus. My palate is certainly not on par with the experts at all the cigar rags but this thing is simply delicious. And over too quickly. The roll and press of this cigar is simply excellent, an icon worthy of their founder. This would have been damn near a perfect cigar, but she only comes in a box press.

This is a stick that needs to be on your to-smoke list and at the top of your humidor. Another aspect to get excited about is that they make the Melanio in the gordo (double toro) vitola, for those like who like some meat on their cigars. Unfortunately, for some vitolas, like the popular robusto, you’re going to have to wait a bit as online retailers have difficulty keeping them in stock and in some cases, they’re on backorder. The shortcomings of her siblings, real or imagined, cannot begin to diminish what Oliva has accomplished in the Melanio, a beautifully made cigar with an illustrious history and A-list accolades. – In Fumo Pax!

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