Recently disappointed by the Oliva Master Blends III, I was prepared to sink my teeth into another highly-rated Oliva cigar in an effort to rediscover my love for the brand. My next selection in the Oliva Five Card Stud Sampler from Pipes & Cigars was the Oliva Serie G Toro.
The Oliva website tells me that:
Serie G is a medium body blend made with an African-Cameroon wrapper. The unique flavor notes of this wrapper are complemented by the natural richness of Nicaraguan Habano fillers.
And it adds that it is a medium body blend “with notes of cedar and coffee ,” and that because a Cameroon is “a thin wrapper with little oils” that “its flavor will change little from aging.”
Hmm, sounds great! I love a good Cameroon wrapper! Many other cigar aficionados would agree with me when I say that it has rapidly become my favourite. A Cameroon wrapper seems to deliver a consistent, fine-quality smoke. I guess now I know why.
Cigars International informs me that these are “flavorful, well-made Nicaraguans,” and that:
Oliva Serie ’G’ is a good-looking Nicaraguan premium cigar made with an authentic African Cameroon wrapper. This leaf imparts a pleasant, nutty flavor, adding to the rich bouquet presented by the Nicaraguan Habano long-fillers inside. Overall, a rich, medium-bodied cigar with hints of coffee, nuts and wood on the aftertaste. Serie ’G’ cigars received a stellar ’91’ rating.
That “91 rating” was enough to land the Serie G a place in Cigar Aficionado’s Best Cigars of 2006, where the CA writers also praised its “bang for the buck.” It also received a 92 rating from Cigar Snob.
I was impressed by the earthy wrapper note and the cigar’s pleasing mud coloured wrapper. It was elegantly presented with its classy gold and maroon label and smooth seams; and it was not veiny. The pack was on the harder side of firm but not enough to concern me in regards to draw, so I opted to punch the solid double cap with my bullet punch.
And it immediately cracked. Now, I happen to know for a fact that this stick was stored properly in my humidor, which has been kept at a steady 62 humidity since I got it. Every now and then you get a dud of course, even with award-winning cigars. After all, each one is hand-crafted and hand-rolled, and there must be some allowance for individual variation. But, this was the second one in the set of five that had unraveled on me. I assume that something must have happened to dry the sticks out in transport.
Enthusiasm waning, I struck a light to it with my cedar cigar spills. The Serie G lit easily and properly. I found the first draws to be earthy and buttery; oily in a way that the Oliva Master Blend III had promised and not delivered. The first third offered a similar clay note to the Master Blend III, but rather than being bothersome (even with the accompanying dry mouth) in this case it was quite enjoyable, and pleasantly bitter like a good cup of coffee. And yes, my coffee complimented it well. Alas, it went out only twenty minutes later.
I clipped the stick and finished the work I was doing on the computer so as to give the stick my undivided attention, and so I didn’t re-light for several hours. When I did get back to the smoke it went out again almost immediately. I estimate about ten minutes.
Scowling, I once again clipped and re-lit a now much-reduced toro that was more like a robusto for a third attempt. Now I noticed the nut undertone. It was sort of bitter, like a walnut. I’m not terribly fond of walnuts, but this was pretty good. Unfortunately the serious reduction in the size of the stick resulted in quick end to the smoke. It went out once again with most of the final third unsmoked.
I clipped once more but didn’t relight until about twenty minutes ago; several days later. This time the cigar proved well. There was no more clay dry-mouth, and it fired up easily enough. Perhaps it was too wet in the humidor? Perhaps I didn’t give it enough time to rehydrate in the humidor after its journey? I was left with a bit of a spinning head near the end, probably because I smoked it too fast in order to assure that it wouldn’t go out on me. My total smoke time, all together, turned out to be about an hour.
So: good cigar, bad execution. What gives? The first two Olivas in the set were amazing! I have decided to hold off on the last of my Olivas for a couple of months to see if re-humidifying helps. Maybe I just prefer the lighter Olivas to the darker ones; I did smoke the lighter ones first.
With the frustration of construction, even with the admittedly-excellent price-point, I can give the Serie G no more than:
You can find this award-winning cigar at Cigars International and at Famous Smoke for about $116 USD for a box of 25 or about $25 USD for a five pack; that’s only $5 each. And you can also find a bunch of different shapes and sizes at those two sites or at Thompson Cigar.
And that’s a lady’s perspective!