Well, it looks like the slacker half of Casas Fumando made his way back north. Now that Daniel is back I can relax a bit. My poison for relaxing this weekend? Oliva’s newest offering, the Serie V Melanio Gran Reserva Limitada.
The Good Stuff: Debuting at this year’s IPCPR show just a few days back, Oliva showcased it’s newest addition to their already vast portfolio. The Serie V Melanio. The Melanio was created to pay tribute to Melanio Oliva, who has been growing tobacco for Oliva since 1886. Here is a bit of background on Melanio taken from the Oliva site:
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 Melanio is composed of all Nicaraguan fillers and binder. Like all of the cigars in the Serie V, the cigar contains some of the most aged tobaccos. Along with the aged tobaccos Oliva concentrated on tobacco grown in the Jalapa region of Nicaragua. The Melanio actually uses more Jalapa tobacco which adds much more flavor, but less strength. The cigar is then wrapped with Sumatra seed wrapper grown in Ecuador by Oliva. This is the first cigar made using this wrapper and the first Ecuadorian Sumatran wrapper on any cigar since the Master Blends 2. The Melanio will come in 5 sizes, all box-pressed: Robusto (5 x 52), Torpedo (6.5 x 52), Churchill (7 x 50), Pettit Corona (4.5 x 56), and a crazy figurado (6 x 52). All will come in boxes of ten and will range between $8 and $14 a stick.
Size: 5 x 52 Box Pressed
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Pairing: Schneider & Sohn Aventinus Dopplebock
The Oliva Serie V Melanio reminds me of the Master Blends so much as far as shape, and appearance are concerned. The cigar starts off with a nice, rounded box-pressed format. I’ve said it too many times to count, but this elongated box-press has to be my favorite format. It fits perfectly in your hand, perfectly in your mouth, and always pumps out a perfect draw. The wrapper is a very dark brown with lots of medium brown, light brown, and orange inconsistencies. Again, I love when a cigar’s wrapper looks as natural as this. I’m not one for dye. The wrapper is very hard and very thick and displays only one, tiny vein all the way up to the stubby round double cap. There Melanio feels tough, and very well packed with no soft-spots. The Melanio sports the exact same brown, gold, and red “Oliva Serie V” band as the rest of the Serie V cigars only with two exceptions. The words “Gran Reserva Limitada” written around the large band, and the addition of a smaller secondary band with the words “Melanio – Gran Reserva Limitada” embossed on it.
The wrapper smells of very sweet tobacco, deep spice, and cedar while the foot gives off a very powerful, pungent tobacco and sharp pepper. The cap cut clean from the Melanio and the cold draw produces a lot of the same flavors I would expect from the Master blends. Lots of sweet tobacco and a ton of cedar. The main difference is with the sweetness I also got a whole ton of spice and black pepper. Needless to say this is going to be an interesting experience.
First Smoke: The first couple of draws on this Oliva Serie V Melanio shaped up exactly how I was expecting. The cigar opened up with lots of sharp, back pepper, strong tobacco, coffee, and chocolate flavors back by lots of sweet cedar and spice. What I wasn’t expecting is for the pepper to fade so quickly and all the remaining flavors to blend in so perfectly. Seriously, this is starting out as one seriously creamy, balanced, flavorful cigar. The draw on the Melanio is just perfect. Every little puff kicks out a massive amount of thick, white smoke. The cigar doesn’t give off much more than a tiny amount of tobacco scented stationary smoke. The burnline has only a few small waves as it exposes the cigar’s tightly compacted, white and light grey ash. The ash held on well over an inch before falling into my ashtray.
Halfway There: The Oliva Serie V Melanio continues to be this creamy flavor bomb. The sharp spice from the aged tobacco has really started to take the forefront into the second third. Backing the spice is some soft cedar, a bit of a grape flavor, coffee, bitter chocolate, and sweet tobacco with just an undertone of leather. The amount of flavor in this cigar are ridiculous. The retrohale was not even close to as sharp as peppery as I thought it was going to be coating my nasal passage with a soft cedar and spice. I am feeling some slight nicotine from the Melanio already, but nothing close to the standard Serie V.
Finish: I am happy to report that both the secondary and the large band came off with ease. I really hate when bands are glued to the wrapper of the cigar, but I have never had a problem with Oliva. The strength of the Melanio really ramped up into the final third of this cigar. Along with the strength so did the body. The main flavors are now a strong coffee and tobacco with lots of cedar, sweetness, chocolate and fruit undertones. I’m really impressed with all the flavors in this cigar while the experience has stayed overall smooth and creamy. I didn’t experience and harshness at all into the final inch. All in all it took me and hour and a half to smoke this cigar and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Overview: Needless to say, this was one hell of a cigar. The Master Blends series have always been my favorite Oliva blends, and some of my favorite cigars of all time followed by the Serie V and Serie V Maduro series. You can guess how excited I was when I heard about the Melanio. I had hoped that it would be a Serie V/Master Blends love child, and that’s exactly what it was. The Melanio brings the Serie V to a whole new level with it’s full bodied, flavorful, aged tobacco wrapped up in a sweet, cedar package. This is by far one of the best cigars to come out of the Oliva factory. The blend and format are perfect, not to mention the appeal this cigar will have to cigar enthusiast based on it’s complexity and balanced flavor while it comforts the novice smoker with a full-bodied, but not too strong experience for those who want to venture into the premium market. This is box worthy for sure, and I urge any of you to pick up quite a few once they start landing in your local shops. Really, I know the price tag may be high for the normally value-priced Oliva, but it’s well worth it.
Pairing: Want to see a perfect pairing? Look no further than the Oliva V Melanio and Schneider & Sohn Aventinus. This German Wheat-based Dopplebock is produced at the Weisses Bräuhaus G. Schneider & Sohn and rings in at a whopping 8.2% ABV. As soon as I decided that this week’s review was going to be the Melanio, the only beer that I could think of for pairing was Aventinus. This isn’t your normal Dopple. Aventinus is a dark, wheat based dopple with more character than most. Instead of the thick, malty build up most dopples produce, Aventinus lets looks a ton of natural flavors such as clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cherry all wrapped around in chocolate malt and barely. Mouth watering yet? It should be. This is by far the best pairing that I have had lately.