Back in the first week of halfwheel’s existence in January of 2012, I reviewed one of the rarest Oliva cigars made, the Oliva V Culebra. Only 200 were officially produced over a span of about five years, and odds are, 99% of the cigar smoking public didn’t even know they existed prior to the review.

In June of 2007, there was a multitude of events intended to introduce the newly launched Serie V line, at which a total of 100 Culebras were raffled off between twenty or so events. Another batch was given out during the Nicaraguan Cigar Festival in 2011. The size is very similar to the Oliva Serie V Lancero, but it is rolled looser to allow for the individual cigars to be braided together.

Here is what I said in my original review:

I am not sure what the blend is on these sticks (and considering the production numbers, we may never know), but I do know that whatever it is, I wish they would make more. Complex as hell; balanced as hell; refined as hell; and tasty as hell. Easily the best Oliva V I have ever smoked, and is in the top three Olivas I have ever smoked. If you ever get a chance to talk to someone high up at Oliva and they say you can have one thing in this world as a favor — tell them to make more of these.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Oliva Serie V Culebra
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A. (TABOLISA)
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Sun Grown
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 7 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 38
  • Vitola: Culebra
  • MSRP: n/a
  • Date Released: 2007 (Event Raffles) & March 2011 (Nicaraguan Cigar Festival)
  • Number of Cigars Released: 200 Coffins of 1 Culebra
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Redux: 1

Like any Culebra, the Oliva Serie V Culebra is an odd looking cigar, seemingly twisted to the point of madness with a light brown wrapper that has a reddish tint, but no oil present. The wrapper is extremely fragile,and damaged in a few places, but looks fine other than that, and is actually quite hard when squeezed. The aroma coming off the wrapper is slight, with notes of sweet wood, fruit and a bit white pepper.

The Oliva Serie V Culebra starts off with notes of nuts, sweet vanilla, creamy cedar, baking spices and earth. Flavors run in and out throughout the entire smoke, sometimes stronger, sometimes lighter, but the white pepper on the retrohale stays at a constant level until the very end. The vanilla note is huge in the first third—but starts to get replaced by a sweet nutmeg note at around the halfway point—and never comes back to previous levels.

Oliva Serie V Culebra

Construction is astounding with the first ash not falling until well past the first inch point. Despite the bend in the cigar, the draw is perfect and the totally seamless ash is stark white. Smoke production is awesome and constant, while the strength never goes above the medium mark. The one thing that does surprise me is the fact that I nub the cigar at about the 55 minute mark, a very quick burning cigar.

96 Overall Score

It was great when I first reviewed it, and it is great still. One of the most complex flavor bombs I have smoked, and easily one of the best cigars Oliva has ever made. The sweet vanilla and nutmeg profile, combined with the perfect amount of white pepper on the retrohale is a joy to taste. Oliva, please, for the love of all that is holy, make more of these.

Original Score (January 2012)
Redux Score (January 2013)
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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.