In between the world famous clothbands and the current line-up of Serie G, O and V was the days of the Oliva Grand Series. Offered in both Cameroon and a Maduro wrapper the line was discontinued in 2006 in favor of the Serie G and O, although neither retained the same blend.
The cigars were by no means rare, much like the modern day Serie G, and much has been Oliva’s practice, the cigars were priced rather reasonably, retailing for under $4.00 per cigar. There were actually two different wrappers used.
Interestingly enough, there seems to be two different box designs for the Grand Maduro. The original looked like this:
(Image via Charlotte Cigar Club)
At the RTDA 2005, Oliva replaced the box with the following, which acknowledged the blend change:
(Image via Charlotte Cigar Club)
And the particulars.
Cigar Reviewed: Oliva Grand Maduro Belicoso
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A.
- Wrapper: Costa Rica
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Size: 6 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Torpedo (Box-Pressed)
- MSRP: $4.03 (Boxes of 24, $96.62)
- Release Date: 2002
- Number of Cigars to be Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 4
Square press is really the right term to describe the application on the Oliva Grand Maduro. The Costa Rican wrapper is jet black, which isn’t shocking and there’s very little in the weigh of veins. Aroma off the wrapper of the old Oliva is aged leather with a decent bit of pepper. It’s a much different story from the foot with a very complex aroma containing some woods, fruits, a strong array of peppers and some meatiness. Cold draw continues this trend with some additional cherry woods, an overly sweet cocoa in the background, earth and a bit of herbs on the finish.
The first third begins with the Oliva providing some heavy Nicaraguan woods with plenty of pepper and sweetness. Smoke production is good, although the burn raises a touch of concerns. Consistently, the first third is about chocolate, layers of chocolate. Strength is a timid medium, although the body of the Oliva is a bit on the medium-full side.
By the time the second third arrives, notes of cocoa and a returning cedar come back to life in the Grand Maduro. Smoke production is declining, it’s slow, albeit noticeable. Construction is okay, decent draw, average burn and the aforementioned smoke production, although one rendition of the Belicoso I smoked was sublime in terms of construction.
The final third is predictable, coffee and cedar. There is a return of the cocoa, particularly on the finish, as well as an increased and misplaced pepper, but the Grand Maduro is relatively easy to figure out. Smoke production does seem to pick up quite a bit in the final third, although the pace of the cigar remains incredibly slow.
- This is a solid cigar. Definitely more enjoyable than the current Serie G Maduro, although a lot different.
- Complexity is not shining when it comes to the Grand Maduro. The flavors are developed, but straight forward. There seems to be little attempt to mold them together and little progression, but it’s also old.
- Of all of Oliva’s noted packaging in the early years of the company, this is towards the ultra conservative side, no toilet seat, no laser etchings and no cloth bands.
- Pepper, placed right, would be a very welcome addition, sadly, I think it’s probably gone for good.
- The Grand Cameroon, the sibling of the Grand Maduro, actually looks like a rendition of the Flor de Oliva line using strikingly similar bands.
- Unlike the Master Blends 1, I can’t say I’ve noticed much of a change in the Grand Maduros in the last two years.
- Oliva still makes the Serie G, arguably the closest current production cigar to the Grand Maduro, in a box-pressed version.
- The Maduro was offered alongside the Cameroon version in a sampler. Three Torpedoes of each wrapper was included.
- Final smoking time is a slow two hours and five minutes.
The Bottom Line: The cloth bands and the old Master Blends get all the love, but the Grand series is where the surprises lie at this point in history. The Oliva Master Blends 1 remains strong and complex, the Orion and Bolds are good, but noticeably without something despite the immense complexity still remaining. The Grand Maduro is simple, straight forward and clean. It’s lost its edge, but it’s fared a lot better than its Nicaraguan counterparts. Even if you aren’t a fan of the current Serie G Maduro, the Grand Maduro is one of those cigars that’s made for a long evening by the pool or on the beach where consistency is key and complexity is second, and if you find one at MSRP, this might be the king of the hill.
Final Score: 87