Released in 2006, the Oliva Special S is, to date, the most expensive cigar offered by Oliva. The blend was only sold for about two years, and the general consensus on the major cause of them being discontinued was simple: the Oliva Serie V. You see, the Serie V had quite a few things going for it over the Special S when it was released—by all accounts it was a better blend, it was newer, and most importantly, it was quite a bit cheaper.

Says Oliva:

Special S is complex, medium to full body blend of aged tobaccos. The wrapper leaves used in this blend are aged in cedar crates where they develop a smooth yet rich character. You will find notes of dark tobacco with spice and rich cedar.

The Oliva Special S was released in eight different vitolas at launch and three tubos. They were:

  • Oliva Special S Churchill (7 x 50)
  • Oliva Special S Churchill Tubos (7 x 48)
  • Oliva Special S Diadema (7 x 48)
  • Oliva Special S Diadema (9 x 52)
  • Oliva Special S No. 4 (5 x 42)
  • Oliva Special S Robusto (5 x 52)
  • Oliva Special S Robusto Tubos (5 x 52)
  • Oliva Special S Toro (6 x 50)
  • Oliva Special S Toro Tubos (6 x 50)
  • Oliva Special S Torpedo (6 x 52)

Oliva Special S Torpedo 1.jpg

  • Cigar Reviewed: Oliva Special S Torpedo
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Sun Grown)
  • Binder: Nicaragu
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Habano)
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Torpedo
  • MSRP: $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190)
  • Release Date: 2006
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2

The cigar itself looks old. I like the look of the cedar wrap and the “Special S” in a brown ribbon around the bottom gives it a unique look. The wrapper is a medium brown color and while fairly smooth to the touch, it is also quite rustic-looking. It is rock hard when squeezed and the wrapper has very little smell, although I pick up some pepper, cedar and perhaps some leather.

The first third starts off with a nice creamy, nutty profile, with a bit of leather along for the ride. There is a slight sweetness on the palate as well, but it is really more of a background note at this point. Very little spice, just a tad bit on the retrohale.

Oliva Special S Torpedo 2.jpg

The second third continues the same trend with a creamy, nutty profile. However, there is a very noticeable, albeit not very strong, floral note that ebbs and flows throughout the third. The sweetness from the first third is also still present, but still in the background. At this point in the smoke, the spice I was getting on the retrohale totally disappears.

Oliva Special S Torpedo 3.jpg

The final third did not change much from the second third. It is still very floral with some added woody undertones, nutty and sweetish. The cigar wrapper literally came apart at the very end, but by that point, I was done anyway.

Oliva Special S Torpedo 4.jpg

Final Notes

  • This is the perfect example of how a cigar can change just about everything about its profile when aged correctly. While I have not formally reviewed this cigar until now, I do remember smoking a few back when they were released, and I remember them being stronger, with more pepper, and more bite. Age has been good to this cigar, for sure.
  • Interestingly, when the cigar was released, there was an aging recommendation on the Oliva website for their cigars. According to Oliva, the Special S apparently should be aged for five years, which would mean they are at their peak at almost exactly this point in time.
  • I smoked two different vitolas of the Special S for this review (a Toro and a Torpedo), and honestly, I liked the Torpedo better, as it seemed to be a bit more complex, profile-wise.
  • This is a very dry smoke overall, with a dry-feeling wrapper and a very dry finish.
  • The burn and drew were excellent. I did not have to touch up either of my samples even once. Having said that, the wrapper is very delicate on these cigars and it fell apart at the very end of the smoke, albeit past where I probably should have been smoking anyway. It was not a problem before the end though.
  • The final smoking time for the Special S Torpedo was one hour and 15 minutes.
86 Overall Score

I was not sure what I would taste when I lit it up. Would it be a wonderfully aged cigar or a smoke past its prime? I am happy to say that the former is the case. While I am not going to rush out and try and buy a box of these, not that I could find a box anyway, it was a very good smoke, especially in the morning with a cup of coffee. And while it was not the most complex cigar in the world, the profile was relatively smooth and the flavors it did have were very nice and combined well together. Having said that, for the money I would buy a Serie V over this cigar any day of the week.

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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.