Gilberto Oliva Reserva
So, you guys should all be familiar with Jeff by now. He’s our honorary Casas Fumando writer, and he kicked out tons of great reviews. If he keeps this up we are going to force him to join us full time. Until then, enjoy his newest “Guest” review.
What in the world is going on with the weather these days? It seems that I’ve swapped weather patterns with Tony – while he’s been dealing deluges in El Paso, we’ve been seeing nothing but dry days for the past couple of months here in Seattle. Crazy! Anyway, on to the review…
When Oliva Cigar Co. was sold to J. Cortès last year, no doubt more than a few people wondered how that would affect Oliva’s production and presence going forward. The answer seems to be, “not much”. Originally slated to be released last year as the Facundo, a trademark conflict put the launch on hold. Now the cigar has been released as Gilberto Oliva Reserva, an Indonesian Sumatra wrapped stick, and Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc, in Ecuadorian Connecticut. Both versions come in five sizes: Corona 5¾ x 43, Robusto 5 x 50, Toro 6 x 50, Torpedo 6 x 52, and Churchill 7 x50. Packed in boxes of 20, pricing is very affordable, starting at $5.25 for the Reserva Corona and topping out at $6.90 for the Reserva Blanc Churchill.
This is the first new line of cigars to be released by Oliva since the Melanio came out in 2012.
The cigar up for review here is the Connecticut wrapped Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Size: Toro 6 x 50
Smoking time: One hour, twenty minutes
Pairing: Full Sail Session Wheat (ABV 5.4%)
The Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc is draped in a medium tan and smooth wrapper, with fine veins, a nice oil sheen, and nearly invisible seams. The pack is firm throughout with a few little bumps, leading to a neatly applied double cap. The white, brown, and gold band coordinates well with the color of the wrapper leaf. The wrapper gives off a grassy earth scent, while the foot shows natural tobacco with a bit of a mossy undertone. The clip reveals a fairly snug draw that shows faint sweet cedar and natural tobacco.
The Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc starts off mild with sweet cedary tobacco, toasty bread, and a touch of earth. The earthiness is amplified on the retrohale, which also shows some light pepper. The sweetness soon dissipates on the palate, but is some remnant of it in the aftertaste, as the natural tobacco has moved to the forefront. The burn is a little thick, but dead-even as the light to medium gray ash falls at ¾”. A light sweetness bobs forward and back, as some nut and bread notes emerge. The pungency of pepper is notable on the retrohale, but so much the bite. By the end of the first third the Reserva Blanc has pushed up to the higher side of mild with no discernible strength.
As the Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc moves into its middle third, the flavors bump back and forth with earth, tobacco, and wood continuing to lead the way. While the mouthfeel has been smooth, it has never gotten to the point of creaminess that one might expect of a Connecticut wrapped cigar. That is not a detriment to me, just an observation. The pungent pepper flavor has dropped back, while the bite has moved up a notch.
The final portion of the Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc finally brings in some creaminess and ramps up the sweetness, as the earth falls back, revealing the cigar’s “sweet spot”. A very light but noticeable floral note wafts in to provide a nice accent to the smoke. As the Reserva Blanc gets down to the nub, the pepper climbs back up and the sweetness and cream once again wave farewell. The cigar has smoked cool and with just a bit of softness down to the final inch, exhibiting no harshness and finishing at a low-medium body with a slight nicotine kick. I never once had any thought of picking up my lighter, as the cigar burned absolutely straight and without any suggestion of going out all the way down.
When I first saw that Oliva was coming out with a new Connecticut cigar, I wondered how it would compare to the old Connecticut Reserve. Since it’s been several years since I’ve had that one, it’s a little hard for me to say, but as my cloudy memory serves, it seems to be pretty close to what I can recall of the older line. With a reasonably complex makeup of flavors and transitions and excellent construction and burn properties combined with an easy to take price, I can easily recommend that those looking for an enjoyable Connecticut cigar that won’t be boring pick up a few to try out.
You can get them from our friends at Cuenca Cigars.
One of the problems of matching a Connecticut wrapped cigar with a compatible beer is making sure that the beverage of choice won’t overpower the often delicate flavors of the cigar. While the Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc is not a super mild and one-dimensional stick, it does have enough nuances that can get overshadowed by too much of a good thing beer-wise, so I decided to go with a lighter hefeweizen-styled brew. The Session brand is made by Oregon brewer Full Sail, less expensive than their regular lines, and quite frankly, not as full flavored, but that was pretty much what I was looking for when I selected the Session Wheat to accompany the Reserva Blanc. With a light mouthfeel, notes of banana and grain, and a light lemony finish, it worked out quite well, but just about any hefeweizen, witbier, or lager will do nicely as well. Of course, a good cup of coffee would also be a perfect accompaniment.