The last time a new Oliva line was introduced it was 2007 at the Houston RTDA, now five years later the Oliva Serie V Reserva Melanio is set to debut at IPCPR 2012. It’s a cigar that has been in the work for years, something we fully chronicled a few weeks ago after the cigar was announced:

At the 2010 IPCPR, Stogie Guys posted this brief bit of info: Also rumored is that a limited but regular production cigar named “Melanio” (after Gilberto Oliva’s grandfather) is in the works with an estimated MSRP of $12-15 per cigar.

Throughout last year, Oliva continued working on the cigar, although all indications heading into 2012 were that the Oliva Master Blends 4 was taking priority. Things changed this past weekend when Erik Calviño of Cigar Snob posted the following picture of the Serie V Melanio: Oliva Serie V Melanio Tweet Word from Oliva at the time was that the cigar was planned for IPCPR with five sizes, although the sizes weren’t confirmed. That changed Tuesday when Savona posted the following details: The final blend came from combining Ecuadoran Sumatra seed wrapper with a Nicaraguan blend that emphasized tobacco from the Jalapa region, the area of Nicaragua known for more nuanced leaf than Estelí and Condega. As with the original Serie V line, these are well-aged tobaccos. “The fillers that we use for [Serie V] are our most-aged fillers,” said Oliva. “This used a little more Jalapa. Jalapa adds flavor, but it doesn’t have a lot of body.”The new cigar brand will come in five sizes: Robusto, Churchill, Torpedo, Petit Corona and Figurado, a smoke Oliva described as a “double-ended torpedo, straight in the center.”The cigars will retail for $8 to $14 per cigar, making them the most expensive in the Oliva portfolio.

One interesting bit confirmed to halfwheel is that the cigar will be made at Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A. (TABOLISA) in Estelí, Nicaragua. In December, Cigar Aficionado reported Oliva was moving production of Serie V to Miami — a move that still hasn’t happened and won’t happen in time for the scheduled September release.

The cigar is a tribute to the man who the Oliva family traces their tobacco roots. The Oliva website explains the history briefly:

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.

The Oliva Serie V Melanio will debut in five box-pressed sizes, all in boxes of ten:

  • Oliva Serie V Melanio Petit Corona (4 1/2 x 46) — $8 (Boxes of 10, $80)
  • Oliva Serie V Melanio Robusto (5 x 52) — $9.50 (Boxes of 10, $95)
  • Oliva Serie V Melanio Torpedo (6 1/2 x 52) — $13 (Boxes of 10, $130)
  • Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado (6 x 52) — $14 (Boxes of 10, $140)
  • Oliva Serie V Melanio Churchill (7 x 50) — $13 (Boxes of 10, $130)

Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado Box 1

Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado Box 2

Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado Box 3

Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Figurado
  • MSRP: $14 (Boxes of 10, $140)
  • Release Date: August 15, 2012
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Release
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1

The shape itself is reminiscent of a Viaje Double Edge Sword, although uniquely box-pressed. It’s more of a rectangular press, much more pronounced and easier to notice in the parejo sizes, which look like candy bars. A large reason for the appearance comes to the dark Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, which is akin to the wrapper on the normal Serie V. It’s got a few visibly noticeable veins, but most of the wrapper is spotless and incredibly smooth to the touch. Aroma coming from the Figurado is a heavy sweetness with some leather. The foot is a bit more complex with produces less aroma in terms of intensity, but more flavors—sweet cocoa, leather, touches of pepper and hints of root beer. Cold draw is sweet cocoa with a compliment red pepper and a touch of herbs. Great detail and a flavor that is right up Brooks’ alley—sweet and spicy.

It starts the first third incredibly delicate, but medium, with a sweet and salty nuttiness and a touch of pepper in the back. It’s an amazing contrast and greatly detailed. A few puffs in and the pepper is now fully formed in the back of the throat. Eventually, the Melanio settles to a sweet and short cocoa with an easy saltiness and a great pepper in the back. The cold draw produces some bread notes, almost totally absorbed by the darker up front notes, and a toasty finish. While the smoke production is great, I wish the draw was a bit tighter.

Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado 2

Into the second third and a distinct peanut note is developing in the Oliva. It’s largely due to the incredible saltiness, which is in my opinion, easily the signature note of the cigar, although not the heaviest by any means. There’s some creaminess that makes it in as well as some earthiness, but the core is largely the same with an amped up pepper. While you can tell there is some strength in the first third, it’s mainly medium-full in the beginning. As of the second third, it’s into the fully category, although it’s got the same sort of blind strength the Serie V often shows.

Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado 3

The final third presents a few moments where the burn line needs some touching-up, something that begins towards the latter half of the second third. Flavor-wise, a more generic nuttiness and earth takeover with the grassiness from the cold draw and a bit of barnyard. Overall, it’s still got the smooth, but dark, signature the Serie V posses. Smoke production is also declining as the draw opens up, but the cigar makes it to the inch mark before presenting any formal burn problems.

Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado 4

Final Notes

  • The bands say “Gran Reserva Limitada” on both the top and bottom of the upper band and at the bottom of the secondary band. Oliva says its not part of the formal name of the cigar. In addition, the boxes say “Gran Reserva Limitada” below Melanio on the boxes.
  • This is not the most expensive Oliva to date, that award goes to the massive 9 x 52 Special S Diadema, which was sold north of $15
  • Like the Serie V, you tend to notice the strength 30 second after a puff, and never really when the smoke hits you.
  • Flavor is full, body is full.
  • The burn was great through the first third, but by the second third it became uneven and required touch-ups.
  • This was a cigar Oliva was working on for a while and one they waited to release for a while.
  • Each vitola felt a tad spongy and the filler looked a bit loose. I’d recommend dryboxing these, particularly if you like your draw a bit tighter—like me.
  • Strength finishes in the full category, slightly milder than the Serie V.
  • Despite previous reports, this cigar will ship August 15 according to Oliva.
  • While it’s not a limited edition, this will be fairly limited for the first few months with the retailers who do get shipments only receiving a few boxes.
  • Smoke production isn’t on a Liga Privada level, but it’s pretty plentiful. It’s not overly thick, but the smoke is quite heavy.
  • The pricing is high, really high. Each size seems to be about $2 more than you would normally expect to pay for a premium cigar.
  • This cigar was provided by Oliva Family of Cigars.
  • While I was initially concerned about the burn rate, it actually took one hour and 50 minutes, which was a bit shorter than I expected.
93 Overall Score

Your first question is, really, $14 for an Oliva? That's largely something brought on by Oliva's prices, which are rather low, as evidenced by the sub-$6.00 Cain F Lancero, in tubos, last year. The question you mainly care about is, is this better than the regular Serie V? Yes. They are truly two different cigars with some shared traits, but this is slightly less sweet and significantly more nuanced with a lot of flavors you don't find in a cigar, particularly in this quantity. For the Oliva faithful, this is your celebration cigar and easily the best regular production cigar their band is on—it's that simple.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.