By Russ Ouellette
I was first introduced to the Oliva Serie V the day before our rollout event over 4 years ago. The initial order arrived, and I broke one out and smoked it. The next day we had our event, which was made even more special because José Oliva was at our shop, and we had a great talk about the cigar, so as I review this one, I’ll be weaving some of the background I picked up from José into the tale.
The very first thing to note about the Serie V is its appearance. This is one of the most visually striking cigars on the market. The understated, but beautifully designed band exudes class and the finely veined, oily, milk chocolate colored wrapper has a satiny sheen that catches the eye.
The cigars are nicely rolled, and are firm and even to the touch. The pre-light draw brings elements of cocoa, wood and a cinnamon-like spice. There’s also a faint sweetness that’s hard to identify. The draw is just firm enough, but not restrictive. The unlit aroma has that familiar barnyard smell, but with a spiciness that’s unique.
I normally don’t note the aroma of the cigar until I’ve had a chance to smoke it partway and then to walk away from it, but the aroma on initial light is so impressive that I noticed it immediately. There’s a cedary element that mixes beautifully with a cinnamon/nutmeg counterpoint, and the remarkable aroma hangs nicely in the air, but dissipates readily.
Before getting to the flavor, let me mention some background about the Serie V. According to José Oliva, what makes this cigar so different is that it is primarily ligero from Habano plants. The gorgeous wrapper is upper priming ligero, which kicks in a good dose of spice, and has excellent burning qualities. The Nicaraguan binder mates up with 100% Jalapa Valley ligero filler to round out an outstandingly aromatic stick.
What’s neat is that most of the filler is from the lower part of the ligero (3rd through 5th rows), which gives the cigar lots of body without being overly spicy.
The initial flavor is tangy, with a spice more along the line of allspice and sweet herbs, but that almost immediately turns into a significant cedar core with an undercurrent of mild coffee, cocoa and nuts. As the chunky robusto (5 x 54) warms up, the cedar backs off a bit and the coffee/cocoa move forward, with the spice becoming a bit more noticeable. All through the first half, there’s a faint sweetness, which I identified originally as herbal, but there’s something about it that was familiar, yet I couldn’t identify it. Then, as I continued to smoke, the memory kicked in- white paste. You know the stuff in the jar that you used in kindergarten with the sweet smell (and taste, if you were so inclined). And I don’t see that as a bad thing. I knew kids who used to eat the stuff, and I found the smell somehow comforting. I actually wonder if the sweetness doesn’t come from whatever they use to glue down the cap.
The flavors build gradually, but never become too intense, and the balance and consistency are remarkable. Although these are not bargain-basement in price, they represent an excellent value as I put them in a class with cigars that sell for twice or three times their price.
If you haven’t tried the Oliva Serie V yet, don’t wait any longer, unless medium-full bodied cigars with a bit of spice aren’t your bag. I give the appearance 14 out of 15, the nice even burn and draw gets 32 out of 35, and the flavor and aroma get 48 out of 50, for a total of 94. Look long and hard, because you won’t see a lot of 90+ ratings from me.
Overall rating: 94
5 x 54
Wrapper: Habano Sun Grown
Filler: Jalapa Valley Ligero
Made in: Nicaragua
|Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of pipe tobaccos for Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe and www.pipesandcigars.com in Albany, NY. He has been a cigar smoker and pipe tobacco blender for over 30 years. Russ will be contributing articles in several areas starting with reviewing cigars that are the best bang for the buck – something we anticipate many readers will be interested in during these challenging economic times.|