Oliva Monticello Cigar Review & Flor de Cana Rum

After reviewing the entire Oliva Serie V range, we chose to continue taking a look at other productions from the brand. Therefore, we’ll be taking a close look at the little-known Monticello as we review it according to the following considerations:

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Overview

  • Brand: Oliva
  • Range: Monticello
  • Reviewed Vitolas: 5 x 50 Robusto
  • Wrapper: Nicaraguan Maduro
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua
  • Factory: Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua S.A. (Tabilosa)
  • Handmade: Yes
  • Body: Medium – Full
  • Estimated Smoking Time: 85  Minutes
  • Pricing: $17 / Single

They Oliva Monticello is a Holt’s exclusive so it can be found on its website or in the Ashton Lounge in Philadelphia. For that reason, it’s not a very well-known blend. It’s a puro blend from all-Nicaraguan leaf and its assembly takes place at the Tabacalera Oliva de Nicaragua or “Tabolisa”.

Oliva Monticello Look & Feel

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Oliva Serie V Monticello Look & Feel

  • Wrapper Hue: Earth
  • Rolling Consistency: Somewhat Straight
  • Spring: Firm
  • Aromas: Cacao, Labdanum, Star Anise

The roll was somewhat bumpy but overall straight on the samples that I tested. There were also a couple of soft spots on the odd cigar. That being said, I had a couple that was soft while others were very consistent. It has a very toothy wrapper with a bumpy texture.

Additionally, the Monticello is a box-pressed style reminiscent of the Oliva Master Blends 3. However, when comparing the two robustos, the Master Blends 3 is slightly larger. That’s because the Monticello is a 5 x 50 robusto and the Master Blends 3 is a 5 x 54 double robusto like the Serie V.

The spring is overall quite firm, though. Its hue has a nice earthy darkness to it and the sheen does project, a couple of oils. The veins present on the wrapper varied between each cigar. Some were overly rustic whereas others had a cleaner finish.

Finally, the Monticello delivers a very pungent aroma, which consists of cacao, musky labdanum, and star anise spice.

Oliva Serie V Monticello Review

Oliva Monticello First Third

The Monticello cigars used for the review were stored in a Boveda acrylic humidor for a period of three weeks. Their humidity was maintained with Boveda 69% packs and they were closely monitored with a Boveda Butler.

Pre-Lighting Experience

  • Draw: Mild Resistance
  • Aromas: Maple Syrup, Cinnamon, Benzoin

Each cigar tested gave a pleasant and consistent draw with a relaxed airflow. The flavours are quite rich and on the pre-light it delivers sweet cinnamon, resinous and vanilla benzoin, and luscious maple syrup.

1st Third Smoking Experience

  • Notes: Brazil Nut, Toasted Bay Leaf, Mahogany

The Monticello opens up with a great deal of flavour; it’s quite complex and verbose. Although it persists throughout the cigar, the first third is particularly impressive.

We’re greeted by some slight saltiness, a little bit of sweetness as well. It’s dominated by what I would describe as a Brazil nut aroma. There’s also an aromatic property that I would liken to toasted bay leaf. And finally, there is a hint of mahogany, which adds a fragrant woodiness to the first third.

2nd Third Smoking Experience

Oliva Monticello Second Third

  • Notes: Oak, Molasses, Black Pepper

There’s a slight transition somewhere around the halfway point. The woodiness becomes much more predominant and is more evocative of oak than rosewood. You also have something resembling the dry draw, which I described as maple syrup earlier.

On this occasion, it’s lacking the same aromatic sweetness, and I would instead liken it to molasses. And as is typical among a number of Oliva cigars, there’s a little bit of black pepper, which is particularly perceptible in the retrohale.

Final Third Smoking Experience

  • Notes: Oak, Cacao Nibs, Coffee Bean

The oak persists through the final third and even dominates the nub. However, the remaining experience is somewhat different. Rather than being overly punchy, it settles to a particularly gourmand profile. Instead, it offers dry and fragrant cocoa nibs as well as a hint of espresso coffee bean.

The overall complexity of the cigar is quite impressive. Indeed, you do have a rich variety of nuances and different notes that are perceptible to each part of the cigar. There’s many that I haven’t noted here, which I had difficulty, in fact, identifying myself.

The mouthfeel is overall very velvety and buttery smooth with a slight creaminess in the texture. The astringency doesn’t cause dryness or salivation. In fact, it was perfectly balanced in this sense.

As for the palate stimulation, it tended to hang around the front of the tongue throughout most of the cigar. Eventually, it crept back towards the rear of the palate. However, this was very much near the final third, and indeed quite close to the nub as well.

In terms of the overall lifecycle of this cigar, indeed it does have a certain degree of evolution. However, I would have liked a little bit more, especially between the second and final third.

While there were a couple of distinctive changes, they weren’t as marked as I would have probably hoped, especially the oak theme becoming quite dominant at the halfway point and all the way to the end. I would have liked there to be a little bit more complexity in that sense.

The finish is quite lingering. Indeed, it does remain on the palate for quite a while. As does the residual scent in the room, which is a shame as it’s not as pleasant as some blends of the Serie V range.

Overall Burn

Oliva Monticello Final Third

  • Ash Backbone: Strong
  • Burn Angle: Mostly Straight
  • Temperature: Cool
  • Draw: Consistent
  • Final Smoking Time: 85 Minutes

As for the overall burn, the draw remained consistent through the entire smoke. Each one I tried didn’t offer too much in the way of resistance in the draw. Indeed, this is probably helped by the slight box-press finish. It’s not overly round, but it’s not square like most box-pressed cigars. Instead, it’s just been pressed on the top without having been too squashed on the sides.

The temperature throughout the whole cigar was cool. There were no heat issues whatsoever. The ash backbone was quite strong, although that is something that I’ve noticed to be somewhat inconsistent with these cigars.

I’ve had some that were quite flaky and others that held on very, very nicely. Indeed, I had a really nice stack on in the photos, but it probably could have lasted well until the final third without any issues. In terms of burn, there can be some waviness to it, but there’s nothing that’s overly disconcerting.

You might not have to touch it up yourself unless you prefer to have a perfectly straight burn line on your cigar.

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Overall Experience

Oliva Monticello Box

As for the overall experience of this cigar, the bands are quite reminiscent of the Oliva Serie V line, especially the Melanio with the secondary band. Otherwise, it does distinguish itself by having a more rounded shape.

Instead of a V you have the letter M, which I presume stands for “Monticello”, and you have a secondary band with “Monticello” written on it as well.

The box is quite ornate and has a white painted finish. Overall, it’s well-designed with a cedar lining on the interior. They come in boxes of 20, which leads me onto the value of the cigar.

I actually found this to be quite expensive. The RRP for a single robusto is $16 or $17, which is quite a bit considering this as nearly $5 more than a Serie V Melanio Maduro. When you buy them in a box, the price will come down to $12 per stick for the robusto, which is still a lot.

With regards to the occasion, it offers the same versatility as the Oliva Serie V. It has a very well-displayed and elegant band that isn’t ostentatious. The flavours of the cigar are complex, yet they could be quite beginner-friendly.

Being a Maduro cigar, it’s not overwhelming nor too rich in body. You could certainly enjoy it with guests or at a premium cigar lounge without feeling out of place. Similarly, it would be great for special occasions.

However, if you’re going to be dishing out a lot of cigars, this probably might not be the best choice given that it’s quite pricey. I would instead opt for one of the original Serie V cigars instead, given that these are going to be a little bit more affordable and equally as versatile in that respect.

Pairing Recommendations With An Oliva Serie V Monticello

Oliva Monticello Cigar & Barcelo Imperial Rum

Firstly, I would primarily suggest a ribeye steak with the Monticello. You could consider most chargrilled red meat, especially if grilled over a wood fire. The crispy texture on the outside with soft red meat on the inside would be particularly pleasant.

Otherwise, you could consider a dark chocolate, something above the 65% in terms of concentration. For instance, Argencove is a Nicaraguan artisanal brand that we really like at Bespoke Unit. They produce some great chocolates that will go well with this.

Alternatively, another one which I did actually suggest for the Serie V as well was pepperoni pizza. The spiciness of the pizza and the yeastiness of the crust would blend quite nicely with the flavors to the cigar and extend the experience.

As for beverages, you could obviously go for a bourbon, a scotch, even an Irish whiskey. Generally, try to aim for something with some consistence and a verbose body. Something with character works best to pair with the cigar’s personality.

However, I would personally opt for good quality cognac that delivers lightly spiced and woody flavours.

Alternatively, looking at non-alcoholic beverages for a change, hickory would be an interesting option rather than coffee. It’ll be slightly more aromatic and deliver a pleasant pairing.

Finally, I found that rooibos tea produced an excellent accord. The rooibos produces a mild yet aromatic and spicy flavour that also helps cleanse the palate for every draw.

Closing Thoughts

Although expensive compared to the Serie V range, the Monticello is still a great little cigar. It’s flavoursome and is quite original overall. It pairs well with a variety of drinks while also offering a unique level of complexity.

Being a Holt’s exclusive, there’s only one place to find it do your options are limited. However, if you’re fond of Oliva and want to test something a little different, it’s worth sampling.

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"Pricey but an intriguing and worthwhile cigar to sample if you get the opportunity."
Bespoke Unit Rating: ★★★★★

Further Reading

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

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