Gilberto Oliva Reserva Cigar Review

Released as an affordable option from the prestigious Nicaraguan brand, Gilberto Oliva was named after one of the family’s many patriarchs.

In this article, you will discover the Gilberto Oliva Reserva as we review it according to the following considerations:

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  • Brand: Gilberto Oliva
  • Range: Reserva
  • Reviewed Vitolas: 6 x 50 Toro
  • Wrapper: Indonesian Sumatra
  • Binder: Ecuadorian
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A.
  • Handmade: Yes
  • Body: Medium
  • Estimated Smoking Time: 80  Minutes
  • Pricing: $5 / Single [Shop On CigarPage]

Initially named after Facundo Oliva, Gilberto’s father, the brand encountered a copyright dispute with the rum producer, Bacardí. Therefore, it was renamed after Gilberto Sr, the family’s living patriarch at the time.

Gilberto Oliva Reserva Cigar Look & Feel

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Gilberto Oliva Reserva Look & Feel

  • Wrapper Hue: Cocoa Powder
  • Rolling Consistency: Somewhat Straight
  • Spring: Firm
  • Aromas: Tonka Bean, Cocoa, Olibanum

Interestingly, Oliva has opted for an Indonesian Sumatra wrapper, which yields a very different flavour profile to its usual offerings. Meanwhile, it has an Ecuadorian binder and Nicaraguan filler but we don’t have much more information as to what varieties or terroirs that were used.

Indeed, the Gilberto Oliva Reserva does have a bit of a rustic appearance. While the overall shape is quite straight, you may encounter a couple of soft spots in the construction. Nevertheless, the spring is very firm or perhaps too firm as we’ll see in the prelight below.

Its wrapper has a somewhat cocoa powder colour, which is bit mottled and matte with a sandpaper texture. Despite this, it does reveal a nice oily sheen. As for its veins, it does have a rustic presentation as mentioned earlier. Consequently, there are a couple of veins that may be present down the body.

As for the aromas from the body and foot, you may detect gourmand tonka bean, cocoa powder, and olibanum, which has a slight vanilla essence.

Gilberto Oliva Reserva Review

Gilberto Oliva Reserva Cigar First Third

As we do with ever cigars that we review, the three Gilberto Oliva Reserva sticks were stored for an acclimation period of at least three weeks in a Boveda acrylic humidor with the use of 69% Boveda packs. Its moisture levels were monitored regularly through a Boveda Butler.

Pre-Lighting Experience

  • Draw: Slightly Tight
  • Aromas: Cinnamon, Butterscotch, Salted Caramel

When it comes to the prelight, I found that the draw of the cigars that we sampled was somewhat tight. While it wasn’t always the case, there were a number with this issue. That said, it does loosen up if you massage the body and you could always use a lance to loosen the draw, too.

The flavors of the dry draw are quite intriguing. You have some cinnamon, a little bit of butterscotch, which is an intriguing change, as well as some sweet salted caramel.

1st Third Smoking Experience

  • Notes: Fried Salicornia, Malted Barley, Dried Earth

The cigar’s initial flavour was somewhat unexpected and probably due to the Indonesian Sumatra wrapper. Indeed, it’s not the consistent flavour profile that is often produced by the Oliva family.

Indeed, it opens with an intriguing grassy herbaceous note, which is reminiscent of algae or fried salicornia. Although it dominates the first third, there are also hints of cereal such as malty barley, which are quite creamy. Similarly, you may experience dried earth on the retro-hale.

2nd Third Smoking Experience

Gilberto Oliva Reserva Cigar Second Third

  • Notes: Sarsaparilla Root, Buttercream, White Pepper

By the second third, the fried salicornia had subsided to instead reveal another aromatic herbaceousness. On this occasion, it was sarsaparilla root.

This intriguing note was accompanied by a buttercream, which was much creamier than the malted barley. Similarly, white pepper had replaced dried earth on the retro-hale.

As a result, the second third is more palatable, balanced, and conventional in comparison to the first third.

Final Third Smoking Experience

Gilberto Oliva Reserva Cigar Final Third

  • Notes: Black Pepper, Charred Oak, Iron Oxide

The final third reveals black pepper, charred oak, and a distinctively metallic iron oxide note. By this stage, the cigar has significantly developed in body but its transition is relatively proportional without being too sudden.

However, it’s not an overly complex cigar. Although easy to smoke and accessible, the notes are quite unusual. While I wouldn’t argue that the mouthfeel was coarse by any means, I did find it to be somewhat flat at times.

Meanwhile, the palate stimulation focused towards the front of the palate and I experienced some dryness in its astringency. Indeed, I often reached for a bottle of mineral water to keep my palate from drying.

That being said, despite its lacking in nuance, it does deliver a clear and intriguing life-cycle with diverse and evolving notes throughout each third. Sadly, the finish isn’t overly long and it often leaves a relatively bland tobacco flavour in the mouth. I’d recommend espresso to clean the palate after finishing it.

Overall Burn

  • Ash Backbone: Strong
  • Burn Angle: Overall Straight
  • Temperature: Cool
  • Draw: Slightly Tight
  • Final Smoking Time: 80 Minutes

Aside from its tight draw that remains throughout the cigar, the burn is exceptional. Its burn line is razor sharp with minimal waviness. No touch-ups are required and the temperature of the smoke always remains exceedingly cool.

Similarly, its ash backbone is excellent and it can produce some impressive stacks of steel-grey ash.

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Overall Experience

Gilberto Oliva Reserva Cigar Box

From a distance, the band appears to be pleasantly ornate with a distinctive Cuban vibe. It has an attractive gold crest with a traditional typeface. However, it’s a shame that the bottom is straight rather than reflecting the oval shape at the top.

Indeed, extra band real estate was kept at the bottom just for the word “reserva”. It would have looked better had this been on a second band or even within the crest to preserve the oval shape.

The box is quite a similar design and further reflects the Cuban inspiration by being made from cardboard that is covered in paper stickers and decorations. It’s functional and relatively attractive, but I feel that it doesn’t offer the best presentation given that it’s mostly red with very understated ornamentation.

However, it’s worth remembering that this is an incredibly affordable cigar, so it’s not for nothing that the presentation isn’t exceptional. The RRP for a Robusto is about $6.

Furthermore, you can get these at excellent and very advantageous prices online. You could probably pick up a box of 20 for about $60, which makes each cigar just $3. As a result, it’s an excellent daily smoke option!

I wouldn’t regard it as a cigar to use for formal or special occasions. Indeed, it’s a great everyday cigar to enjoy while doing other things. Nevertheless, you could consider using it for weddings. Being quite cheap and easy to smoke, you could distribute an entire box without experiencing any financial regret afterward.

Since it’s a great cigar for multitasking, you could probably use it for playing golf. I’m not much of a golfer, though. I think Paul Anthony, the founder of Bespoke Unit, would be better to comment on that.

Pairing Recommendations With Gilberto Oliva Reserva Cigar

Gilberto Oliva Reserva Cigar & Santa Teresa 1796 Rum

Although I didn’t mention it above, the Reserva would also be great for enjoying at a barbecue with a few friends. Consider pairing it with grilled pork ribs that have been marinated in an aromatic sauce.

If you prefer something sweet, I would recommend milk chocolate, which is going to be creamier and help improve the cigar’s dryness. Alternatively, an apple walnut salad may be a worthwhile choice, which is something that Reinhard has suggested in another cigar review.

As for beverages, I would be more inclined to choose beer given that the cigar needs some sort of lubricant. A real ale would be a great choice given the malted barley notes and I’d lean towards options like London Pride, Bishop’s Finger, or even Castle Rock Harvest Pale from my hometown.

Similarly, a German Pilsner would be absolutely fine as well. Otherwise, if coffee is your preferred poison, a cappuccino will compensate for the cigar’s somewhat coarse creaminess.

Closing Thoughts

The Reserva isn’t one of the finest cigars we’ve smoked, but it’s a great everyday and affordable option to fill up space in your humidor. Whether you have a small budget or like to smoke while working or driving yet prefer not to waste a premium cigar, it’s a solid option.

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"Although not an overly nuanced or complex cigar, the Reserva is easy enough to smoke while doing other things or as a budget-friendly everyday option."
Bespoke Unit Rating: ★★★★★

Further Reading

If you enjoyed reading this cigar review, feel fry to check out more related content:

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