Oliva Master Blends 3 Cigar Review

First released in 2006, the Oliva Master Blends 3 is the continuation of the series since it was first launched in 2003 as a limited-edition run of just 15,000 boxes.

In this article, you will discover the Oliva Master Blends 3 as we review it under the following points:

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Overview

  • Brand: Oliva Cigars
  • Range: Master Blends
  • Reviewed Vitolas: 7 x 50 Churchill & 5 x 50 Robusto
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero Blend
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua, S.A.
  • Handmade: Yes
  • Body: Medium – Full
  • Estimated Smoking Time: 95  Minutes [Churchill]
  • Pricing: $8.90 / Robusto Single [Buy Now]

Although the Master Blends 1 was released in 2003 and then replaced by the Master Blends 2 in 2005, its third instalment has been in production for 14 years since 2006. As far as we know, it’s not a yearly limited run but part of the brand’s regular production.

Oliva Master Blends 3 Cigar Look & Feel

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Oliva Master Blends 3 Look & Feel

  • Wrapper Hue: Cacao Nib
  • Rolling Consistency: Mostly Straight
  • Spring: Firm
  • Aromas: Barnyard, Labdanum, Terracotta

The Oliva Master Blends 3 can be recognised by its unique oval-pressed shape. It appears than rather pressing the cigars together in a box, they have been spaced apart. We’ll talk about how this unique shape affects the smoking experience later.

Its wrapper consists of American broadleaf while the filler is a blend of Nicaraguan ligero tobaccos. However, the exact varieties of terroirs have not been divulged.

Despite its artisanal shape, the roll is remarkably quite straight as well as has a nice firm spring. Its wrapper reveals a distinctive mottled cacao nib colour, which gives off a nice oily sheen in the light.

Meanwhile, the veins are relatively refined. There’s a little bit of coarseness, especially with the toothy wrapper. Furthermore, the aromas of the foot deliver an animalistic experience. It offers notes of fresh barnyard manure, musky labdanum and some terracotta earth. Basically, a day out on the farm.

Oliva Master Blends 3 Review

Oliva Master Blends 3 Cigar First Third

As per usual, the cigars 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: Ideal Resistance
  • Aromas: Liquorice, Tonka Bean, Dark Chocolate

The dry draw offers just the right level of resistance. In terms of its flavours, it’s very different to the scent on the foot. Instead, it delivers a strongly gourmand experience with notes of tonka bean, liquorice, and dark chocolate.

1st Third Smoking Experience

  • Notes: Charred Bay Leaf, Marzipan, Black Pepper

It first opens up with the distinctive signature Oliva black pepper flavour, which is surprisingly overpowering until you’ve smoked around half an inch. Once the flavours settle, it then delivers subtle and complex accords and notes. The most distinctive note of the first third was charred bay leaf.

The black pepper continues to linger through the retrohale. However, what was particularly interesting was a developing essence of ground almond that I would have likened to marzipan. This note was unexpected, especially from a cigar with a Nicaraguan ligero leaf filler.

2nd Third Smoking Experience

Oliva Master Blends 3 Cigar Second Third

  • Notes: Rosewood, Iron Oxide, Dark Chocolate

By the second third, the marzipan subsided but a hint of ground almond continued to linger. Nevertheless, it was quickly concealed by fragrance rosewood and iron oxide.

While the rosewood offered a distinctively fresh and floral woodiness, the iron oxide’s metallic characteristics paired well with hints of dark chocolate.

Final Third Smoking Experience

  • Notes: Liquorice, Agarwood, Coffee Bean

Liquorice became the dominant note of the final third. Meanwhile, a strong resinous agarwood oud offered a balsamic property halfway until the nub. Its rich gourmand profile was then extended by the presence of coffee bean.

In terms of complexity, the cigar is overall very nuanced. Indeed, much so than expected, especially given the initial pepper powerbomb. The mouthfeel is very creamy and oily. It leaves a wonderful coating on the tongue and the astringency and palate stimulation are balanced and consistent throughout the whole cigar.

Its palate stimulation spread evenly across the tongue without overly focusing in any specific area. In terms of lifecycle, the cigar does have distinctive transitional areas that extend beyond three thirds. For instance, each third will deliver its own nuances and changing flavours.

The finish is quite long and can linger for three-quarters of an hour. I would certainly recommend that you enjoy an espresso after finishing a cigar not just as a palate cleanser, but to continue marrying those flavours.

As for the residual scent in the room, it’s not offensive by any means. I found it to be a lot more subtle than for example, and the Oliva Serie V or the Oliva Monticello which has the same press shape, but I don’t find it quite as pleasant as the Oliva Serie V Melanio.

Overall Burn

Oliva Master Blends 3 Cigar Final Third

  • Ash Backbone: Somewhat Flaky
  • Burn Angle: Wavy
  • Temperature: Mostly Cool
  • Draw: Ideal Resistance
  • Final Smoking Time: 95 Minutes [Churchill]

When it comes to the burn, this cigar does encounter a few pitfalls. Although the draw stayed consistent throughout each cigar tested, the burn angle has a tendency to get a little bit wavy. Similarly, the backbone of the ash can be quite flaky and it easily drops off without warning on occasion.

As for its temperature, the smoke is overall quite cool, but it does have a tendency to heat up. I believe this is because of the oval shape, which produces a perfect seal between the lips. If you draw too hard and too quickly, the burn temperature can easily rise.

Meanwhile, a round parejo or especially a square box-pressed shape will create gaps between the lips and the cigar. Consequently, you’ll suck in air while taking a draw, which takes pressure off the cigar and keeps the temperature cool.

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Overall Experience

Oliva Master Blends 3 Cigar Boxes Closed

I’m very fond of the Master Blends cigar bands that depict a peaceful landscape in the centre. There is also a portrait of who I would presume to be Melanio Oliva or another patriarch on one side as well as an Oliva stamp on the other.

As for the box, it is a classic cherry wood box with hinges. On the outside, it features a large version of the band that spans across the whole box. Meanwhile, the interior appears to be made of solid wood with an inscription on the lid. Similarly, the cigars are gracefully wrapped with a ribbon.

Oliva Master Blends 3 Cigar Boxes Opened

For a very prestigious and a rare cigar, the Master Blends 3 is quite reasonably priced. A robusto single should cost you around $10 whereas the Churchill will cost you a bit more at no more than $13.

Nevertheless, they can easily be found online at very competitive prices. Normally a box of 20 should cost you something like $240, but I’ve seen a box of 20 robusto cigars for just $85.

While the price might change by the time this video comes out, it’s definitely worth noting that you can pick these up at a steal every now and then.

As for the occasion, the Master Blends series is very versatile, much like the Oliva Serie V. While the aforementioned Serie V has a more understated band, the Master Blends 3 can easily be taken to special and formal occasions as well as premium clubs.

Similarly, you could certainly enjoy at a wedding or even with a couple of friends around a barbecue.

Pairing Recommendations With A Oliva Master Blends 3 Cigar

Oliva Master Blends 3 Cigar & Espresso Coffee

I would suggest a carpaccio di manzo pairing, which is just a fancy way of saying a “beef carpaccio”. The raw meat’s minerality would go particularly well with the iron oxide note in the cigar’s second third.

Otherwise, you could consider dark chocolate. Avoid anything too strong or overpowering. Instead, consider chocolate that’s subtle in flavour. Meanwhile, almonds would be a possibility but I would prepare fresh walnuts, especially given that they have more character so to contrast the cigar’s profile.

In terms of beverages, I’d opt for an aged Spanish-style añejo rum. Nevertheless, the cigar is quite versatile and it can be paired with plenty of different styles. You could go with either a bold Diplomático or maybe even a floral Flor de Caña.

Otherwise, you can consider Bas-Armagnac since it’ll usually have a livelier and more playful personality than cognac. As I mentioned earlier, espresso is a great palate cleanser but black coffee would be great for the cigar. If you want something taller, I’d have a long black to extend the gourmandise.

Closing Thoughts

Richly flavoured and versatile, the Master Blends 3 is bristling with a spectrum of rich aromas. It’s an elegant option for different occasions and can be easily paired with a variety of snacks and beverages.

If you’re fond of Oliva’s diverse Serie V range, consider the Master Blends 3 as it combines many of the qualities found in those cigars.

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"Easy to enjoy for all levels of experience, the Master Blends 3 is a pleasant and versatile cigar."
Bespoke Unit Rating: ★★★★★

Further Reading

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