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Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro Torpedo (Prerelease)

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Building upon the success of the Oliva Serie V Melanio, last December Oliva announced that they were working on an Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro that was slated for a Father’s Day 2013 release. While there was a fair bit of excitement about the announcement, it was tempered in May when it was announced that the release date had been pushed back to the IPCPR Convention and Trade Show in July, with shipping slated to begin shortly thereafter.

As you’ll recall, the original Oliva Serie V Melanio debuted at the 2012 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show in Orlando. The Oliva Serie V Melanio is named for Melanio Oliva, Gilberto Oliva’s grandfather and who many would consider to be the patriarch of the Oliva family. The Oliva website sums it up nicely:

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Melanio Oliva first grew tobacco in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba in 1886. His growing operations were suspended while he fought in Cuba’s War of Independence. After returning from war Melanio resumed his operations. In the early 1920’s Melanio’s son Hipolito Oliva took over the growing operations. Hipolito cultivated the Oliva family fields for several decades. As Cuba became over-run by communist the tobacco landscape changed. Hipolito’s son Gilberto Oliva shifted from growing to brokering tobacco. In the early 60’s the pressure became too great and Gilberto traveled from country to country in search of the distinct Cuban taste. His travels took him to Honduras, Panama, Mexico and even the Philippines. Gilberto finally found fertile ground in Nicaragua. Today Gilberto along with his family are Nicaragua’s second largest grower of Cuban-seed tobacco.

Unlike the five sizes that comprised the original Melanio release, the Melanio Maduro is being offered in just one vitola, a 6 1/2 x 52 Torpedo. This latest release replaces the original Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper with a Mexican San Andrés Maduro leaf. The filler and binder stay the same: both are Nicaraguan from the Jalapa region of the country, which is said to offer a lot in the way in flavor but not so much in body. They are also some of the most aged fillers that Oliva has in their warehouse.

Here are all the Melanio vitolas released so far:

Oliva Serie V Melanio + Maduro Torpedo

  • Oliva Serie V Melanio Petit Corona (4 1/2 x 46) — $8.00 (Boxes of 10, $80.00)
  • Oliva Serie V Melanio Robusto (5 x 52) — $9.50 (Boxes of 10, $95.00)
  • Oliva Serie V Melanio Torpedo (6 1/2 x 52) — $13.00 (Boxes of 10, $130.00)
  • Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado (6 x 52) — $14.00 (Boxes of 10, $140.00)
  • Oliva Serie V Melanio Churchill (7 x 50) — $13.00 (Boxes of 10, $130.00)
  • Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro Torpedo — $13.00 (Boxes of 10, $130.00)

To help spur demand, the 10,000 boxes are only being sold at the show and it seemed sales were brisk on the first day.

Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro Torpedo 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro Torpedo
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: TABOLISA
  • Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Torpedo
  • MSRP: $13.00 (Boxes of 10, $130.00)
  • Release Date: July 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: 10,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (100,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2

On its own, the Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro doesn’t look that much darker than the original Melanio, but when you hold the two side by side, the difference is readily apparent, as the Maduro is much darker than its original brethren. The wrapper is smooth but with some distinctive texture at the head, minimal veins that look like they’ve been pressed flat and a bit of tooth. There’s a sneaky amount of spice tucked away in the pre-light aroma, as a sweet jam note is the first thing to greet you before a mob of pepper comes out from the shadows. There’s a bit of wheat toast in the equation as well that lends a dry crispness to the aroma and provides a bridge between sweetness and spice. The cold draw is surprisingly firm, compounded a bit by the narrow head of the torpedo shape. Flavors are a bit lacking here, as a subtle note of tobacco sets a baseline that sits largely on its own. While the foot of the cigar looks to be a bit underfilled, the head of the Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro looks almost overfilled, and the cigar is uniformly firm from top to bottom.

While it’s not overpowering, the Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro has a healthy bit of spice in the first few puffs and offers a decent bit of concentrated earth notes to create a robust first impression. With the burn line about half an inch along, the flavor picks up but the intensity almost backs off a bit, as what gets added is flavor on the periphery: it’s almost just pure, light-bodied smoke, and it doesn’t really add much to the overall profile. Clay, earth and a touch of mineral notes combine to form a taste of soil that shows the terroir of the Mexican San Andrés  wrapper very well.

Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro Torpedo 2

In the second third, a woody undertone starts to guide the flavor profile with the pepper reentering the equation with a sneaky vengeance, going right after the nostrils and the top of the throat. The flavor at the midpoint isn’t overpowering but is very engaging and begs you to pick apart the notes it offers. Just past the midpoint, my palate registers a flavor that is much richer in soil and clay than what was present earlier. A solid black pepper note carries the cigar into its final third and sets up a flavor that will give my taste buds something to reckon with. While the thought of a Maduro wrapper often conjures up thoughts of sweetness, there is none to be found here, as the Maduro process brings out the notes of earth notes much more than any kind of sweetness.

Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro Torpedo 3

The final third of the Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro ratchets up the complex earth note, with a dry note of clay and brick dominating the palate and a peppery note providing the underlying kick. It’s medium-plus in both body and strength at this point, and really seems to be honing itself in flavor wise for the final puffs. The earth and pepper keep the body at a medium-plus to just shy of full level, almost red lining the medium-plus note as it didn’t seem able to shift into a higher gear of richness, fullness and complexity. The cigar doesn’t seem to want to burn much more with about an inch and a half left, as the combustion really slows and frequent relights deliver only minimal return.

Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro Torpedo 4

Final Notes:

  • In the first third, the ash starts to flower quite significantly and peel away from the core. Quite an interesting shot:
    Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro Torpedo Shark AshApparently in the Dominican, the shark ash is considered good luck.
  • Interestingly though, the ash hangs on fairly tightly despite its flowering. Ever the nervous asher, I literally had to bang on the ashtray to get it to detach.
  • Oliva has released the Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial as an annual release since 2008. This is better than some of those releases (2010 and 2011) but nowhere as good as the 2008, 2009 and 2012 versions.
  • The vitola for the Serie V Maduro Especial has changed year to year, with a Torpedo vitola in the first three releases and a Toro vitola for 2011 and 2012.
  • The Oliva Serie V Maduro Especial switched to a Mexican San Andrés Maduro wrapper in 2010 and has used it ever since. Prior to that, a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro and Nicaraguan Habano Maduro had been used.
  • Oliva said this should be an annual release.
  • The original Oliva Serie V Melanio was offered in five sizes: Robusto, Churchill, Torpedo, Petit Corona and Figurado. Had it been up to me, I would have love to have tried this in the Petit Corona and Figurado sizes. The Torpedo is a perfectly fine vitola and has become somewhat of a signature for the Oliva Serie V, but I generally find it lacking a bit for my preferences.
  • Given that it says Maduro on the secondary band, there should be no chance of you confusing the two after some rest in your humidor.
  • The secondary band’s color scheme is also different from the original Melanio, with an all gold background in place of its predecessor’s brown background.
  • This was Oliva’s only release at IPCPR 2013.
  • Additionally, the Maduro wordmark stands out a bit better than “Gran Reserva Limitado,” which appeared on the original Melanio. That line has moved up to the main Serie V band.
  • The initial release of the Oliva Serie V Melanio sold out in a matter of minutes, and I have a feeling this version will be another very quick seller.
  • There were some rumors that the Oliva Serie V Melanio was supposed to be Master Blends 4, though those rumors were denied by several sources. There is still no Oliva Master Blends 4, and there is little if any speculation about when it might be released.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by Oliva Cigar Company.
  • Final smoking time is about one hour and 40 minutes.
89 Overall Score

For me, the Oliva Serie V Melanio Maduro is a bit closer to the original Serie V than the Serie V Melanio was, and that is both good and bad. The Oliva Serie V ranks as one of my all-time favorites and is a standard go-to cigar for me, and I think I'd still take it over both versions of the Melanio. The Melanio Maduro lacked just a bit in the richness department, and the tight draw left me a bit fatigued, though I did enjoy it. It's a limited edition that is sure to be in demand, so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about buying a box, but I have a feeling that while it's good, make that very good, it's not going to cross over to earning the distinction of being downright great.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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