Cigar Review: Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc by Oliva Cigar Company

  • GilbertoBlanc_straightVitola: Robusto
  • 5” x 50 ring gauge 
  • ~$5.50
  • Purchased at Burns Tobacconist

Background

There are a few companies that can get along just fine without introducing new products every year…the two you usually think of in that context are probably Padron and Fuente. Both are slow to introduce all-new blends, instead just adding vitolas to existing product lines many years. Oliva is not a brand I would have normally thought the same of, but in recent years they seem to move at an almost glacial pace.

It’s now been 5 years since the Serie V Melanio was released…and about 5 years before that was when the original Serie V debuted, with the Connecticut Reserve somewhere in between. Their more “experimental” Studio Tobac brands (Nub and Cain) came in between, too, but those are rarely seen (or marketed) as Oliva products.

At this year’s trade show, though, they debuted two new blends, both of which share the name of one of the family fathers: Gilberto Oliva (grandson of Melanio). Both of the Gilberto Olivas are intended to be “value-priced” lines and they are the first new cigars to be released from the company since they were purchased by European tobacco company, J. Cortés.

First up is the Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc, which is available in 5 vitolas, and blended using Nicaraguan fillers, an Ecuadorian (non-specified varietal) binder, and an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper leaf. I have purchased several of the Reserva Blanc blend at Burns Tobacconist; this review stick is my 4th (I believe) time I’ve smoked it. (Some background above was taken from Cigar-Coop.)

Prelight

The band and box of the Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc is completely different from what we’ve come to expect from Oliva in the past decade or more. Rather than wood, the Gilberto boxes are paper-covered. The band doesn’t obviously scream “Oliva product,” either…in fact, I think a lot of people wouldn’t even make the connection if not told, or if they didn’t notice the cigars next to other Olivas in the shop. It is a good look, though, and serves to separate these “budget” sticks from Oliva’s normal offerings…which aren’t all that expensive, either.

The Connecticut Shade wrapper leaf on this cigar seemed darker than is typical for other sticks like the Oliva Connecticut Reserve, Fuente Chateau Natural, Davidoff Signature, or even New World Connecticut. It definitely has a “golden” hue, but just a few shade darker than normal. The wrap job seemed fine for the price point…nothing special, but not sloppy, either. Giving the wrapper a sniff, I picked up notes of earth and grass. The foot of the stick had a little more earthiness and a slight cedar note, but was strangely almost devoid of aroma.

After clipping the head, I got a good draw that had flavors of hay and earth, along with a touch of cedar.

GilbertoBlanc_angleFlavor

The Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc lit up with grassy note prominent on the palate, riding on a creamy smoke. After a few moments I picked up on some lesser notes of cedar and earth, but the grassier notes definitely held sway. The retrohale held more wood and a tiny pepper spice burn that faded quickly.

The first third burned quickly and as the second was on deck, I have to say that the flavor profile hadn’t changed much. I was still getting grassy notes up front, maybe with a little citrus zest in the mix, but still backed up by cedar and earth.

The last third stayed pretty much the same with tons of grassier notes and a little cedar. The citrus dissipated and a little pepper came back.

Construction

All samples of these I’ve smoked have been spot on for construction.

Value

A well-made cigar with a decent flavor profile at an excellent price…good value if you like the flavor profile, “ok” value otherwise.

Conclusions

I found the Gilberto Oliva Reserva Blanc to be an overall decent cigar, but fairly one-note with a flavor profile that I wasn’t crazy about. It fulfills its mission to be a good bargain-priced cigar, but if I’m being honest—and I always try to be—I know of other sticks in the mild bodied range close to this price range that I prefer. And if it came right down to it, I’d spend the extra couple dollars and buy the Oliva Connecticut Reserva, which has a flavor profile that I much prefer.

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 3/5
Value: .5/1
Total: 7.5/10

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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