Last year, Oliva announced it would be releasing a new line—its first since 2012—using the same moniker as one of the family’s ancestors, Facundo Oliva. Appropriately named Facundo, the brand was to be named after the son of Melanio Oliva and father of the family’s current patriarch, Gilberto Oliva Sr.

Unfortunately, Oliva had to change the cigar’s name to Gilberto—the family’s patriarch—in June due to a trademark conflict with rum maker Bacardi.

When they were finally released this year, there were actually two different lines released under the Gilberto name—the Gilberto Reserva and the Gilberto Reserva Blanc.

The two line have a number of similarities: both are available in the same five violas, both lines incorporate the same Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan filler tobaccos, and both lines are packaged in 20-count boxes. However, that is where the similarities end, as the Gilberto Reserva is covered in a Sumatra wrapper while the Gilberto Reserva Blanc uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut cover leaf.

The Gilberto Reserva began shipping to retailers in June, while the Gilberto Reserva Blanc began shipping last month.

There are five different vitolas of the Oliva Gilberto Reserva Blanc.

  • Oliva Gilberto Reserva Blanc Robusto (5 x 50) — $6.30 (Boxes of 20, $126)
  • Oliva Gilberto Reserva Blanc Toro (6 x 50) — $6.60 (Boxes of 20, $132)
  • Oliva Gilberto Reserva Blanc Torpedo (6 x 52) — $6.90 (Boxes of 20, $138)
  • Oliva Gilberto Reserva Blanc Churchill (7 x 50) — $6.90 (Boxes of 20, $138)
  • Oliva Gilberto Reserva Blanc Corona (5 3/4 x 43) — $5.75 (Boxes of 20, $115)

  • Cigar Reviewed: Oliva Gilberto Reserva Blanc Corona
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
  • Binder: Ecuador
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Length: 5 3/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 43
  • Vitola: Corona
  • MSRP: $5.75 (Boxes of 20, $115)
  • Release Date: August 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Covered in a light brown wrapper that is quite smooth to the touch, the Gilberto Reserva Blanc Corona is thin and light when held in your hand and features a trace amount of oil. Taking off the cedar wrap reveals a few major veins up and down its length and the cigar is fairly dense when squeezed, allowing just a little give. Aroma from the wrapper brings notes of manure, dark cocoa nibs, espresso beans, barnyard, and strong cedar along with a touch of white pepper, while the cold draw feature extensive creamy oak, nuts, leather, pencil lead and the same white pepper.

Although the Gilberto Reserva Blanc Corona takes a while to get lit, once it does there are strong notes of salted peanuts, barnyard, hay, dark cocoa and slightly bitter espresso beans. While there is some noticeable spice on the tongue, it is not that overt as of yet, and there is a fair amount of white pepper on the retrohale that seems to actually be getting stronger as the first third continues. In addition, there is a nice—albeit not overly strong—nougat sweetness on the finish that combines almost perfectly with the peanut note in the profile. Construction-wise, the draw is a bit open for my tastes, but the burn is excellent so far. Smoke production is surprisingly massive as well as dense in body, while the overall strength hits a point halfway between the mild and medium mark by the end of the first third, although I can tell it is going increase.

The nougat sweetness gets a bit stronger during the second third of the Gilberto Reserva Blanc Corona, while both the white pepper on the retrohale and the spice on the tongue have dissipated for the most part. The dominant flavor is a creamy oak mixed with bitter espresso, while other notes include leather, earth, hay and salted nuts, with the citrus note that is quite strong at times. Thankfully, the draw has tightened up a bit, while the burn continues to impress me with its consistency. The strength has increased a bit, and manages to make it to a point close to medium by the end of the second third, but seems to stall out there.

Unfortunately, the nougat sweetness decreases noticeably in the final third of the Gilberto Reserva Blanc Corona but remains a major part of the profile. In addition, the white pepper on the retrohale has made a bit of a comeback, although it is still below the levels of the first third. Other flavors in the profile include oak, hay, creamy nuts, leather, peanuts and dark cocoa nibs leading the way, along with the ever present citrus. The draw has tightened up a bit more, but the burn has to be touched up a couple of times before the end, and the smoke production is still quite high. As expected, the overall strength does not increase noticeably from the second third and I put down the cool to the touch nub with a little more than an inch left.

Final Notes

  • I find it fascinating that the cigar can smell so strongly of cedar on the outside—I imagine due mostly to the cedar wrap—while the cold draw and profile is chock full of oak.
  • In 2016, the Oliva family sold its cigar manufacturing and sales operations to J. Cortès, although the family’s tobacco farms were not part of the deal.
  • Whenever I see a cedar-wrapped cigar with a black ribbon foot, the first thing I think of is Fuente maduro.
  • Of the five different vitolas in both the Gilberto Reserva Blanc and Gilberto Reserva, only the corona size is covered in a cedar wrap.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • I was a bit surprised at how quickly these cigars burned, and the average smoke time was one hour and 5 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Gilberto Reserva Blanc Coronas, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136) and JR Cigar have them in stock.
89 Overall Score

I am always on the lookout for a great Connecticut-wrapped blend, and although the Gilberto Reserva Blanc Corona is not in the top tier by any means, it does easily hold its own. While not overly complex, the profile has more than enough flavors to satisfy, the construction is fantastic overall and as a bonus, it is also extremely well-balanced. Yes, there are better Connecticut-wrapped blends on the market, but the Gilberto Reserva Blanc Corona is a very nice choice for just about any time of the day, especially considering the price point.

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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.