Origin : Nicaragua
Format : Petit Corona
Size : 4.5 x 46
Wrapper : Ecuadorian
Filler : Nicaraguan
Binder : Nicaraguan
Price : $6.75 - $8.00 each
More info about purchasing Oliva Serie V Melanio cigars...
The company markets this cigar as hand-rolled using ‘expertly fermented’ ligero fillers which are known for their robust and rich flavors. The Serie V Melanio is considered one of the brand’s “Premium” Cigars. The long filler tobaccos are a blend of Oliva Nicaraguan Habano that emphasizes tobacco from the Jalapa region, an area known for a more nuanced leaf than the Esteli or Condega regions.
Appearance : (4.75)
This petit corona comes box pressed. The wrapper was veiny and slightly rustic in appearance. It had two beautiful brown/tanned wrappers. The seams were barely visible with the exception of a very apparent seam near the cap. The cap itself was nicely applied, although somewhat uneven. It was an even box press. The bands were a tad big for this petit corona as they had a tendency to cover most of the cigar so obtaining a full inspection was not possible without removing them. However, I do prefer to let the cigar warm up before removing the bands as this tends to soften the vegetable glue used to apply the bands and helps prevent damaging the wrapper. Unless the band is already loose and can be slid off without difficulty then my preference is to wait as noted. Minor deductions were for the fact that the double bands conceal too much of the cigar and the rustic appearance of the cigar.
Construction : (4.75)
Two highlights that came out of my smoking experience with this cigar were the exceptional burn and the tremendous smoke output. I used a straight guillotine cut and the cigar handled this cut very well. The burn remained consistent and even throughout. It should be noted that this Serie V Melanio arrived in my humidor in late fall of last year so it has rested nicely over the winter and stabilized perfectly. This had to have contributed to the noticeably even burn throughout.
This cigar was not firmly packed. In fact, a quick pre-smoke inspection revealed that the cigar was actually quite spongy in feel. This, despite being stored at between 65-68% RH which is my preferred smoking RH. The pre-light draw was a tad loose for my liking offering no resistance whatsoever. Deduction was for the very loose construction. Otherwise the cigar held up quite admirably and burned like a dream, only slightly wavering at the occasional point but it self-corrected wonderfully without ever needing any touch up whatsoever. Minor deductions were made for the seam/cap and for the tad open draw.
The pre-light aroma was very pleasant with hints of cedar, natural tobacco and pleasant coffee and toffee notes. The pre-light draw was very open with some pleasing sweetness and only a hint of salt and spice on the lips. The cigar was lightly packed and felt a tad spongy. I was concerned that this very loose draw would play havoc with my cigar. Let’s see what it did.
Oliva Serie V Melanio Petit Corona held up well to my guillotine straight cut. I toasted the foot with my single torch flame and was greeted with a very pleasing and sweet cigar aroma.
Be ready because the first couple of puffs greet you with a spicy kick and it can be a tad overwhelming if you aren’t ready for it. I best describe the spice as cayenne pepper spice, not black pepper spice. It had a pleasant finish with hints of caramel/toffee and sweet cocoa coming through. The spice hit the front and back of the palate and tended to linger longer than normal at the back of my throat. It certainly offered some spicy "tickle" if I may.
The draw was effortless but in all truthfulness, it was a little too loose and open for my liking. As a result, smoke this one slow because it does have a tendency to burn fast because of that loose draw. I like a bit more resistance in my cigars.
The first third of the cigar was quite complex and I give the cigar an A+ for the first third after getting over the kick of spice with the first couple of puffs. The cigar had tremendous smoke output however, the smoke was very dry, lacking any creamy or velvety richness that one might expect with such thick smoke output. I would recommend a nice cool beverage handy, something sweet like an iced tea would pair nicely with this because, as I will get into later, you will need some sweetness to balance what is to come later.
The flavor during the first third was a pleasing blend of cedar, black cherry, tea, and the occasional hint of caramel complimented with some mild salt on the lips. The first third came to an end with consistent thick smoke output and the burn was perfect. Again, if I had one complaint it was the openness of the draw. Despite this though, the cigar never got hot and remained complex during the first third. The first third was definitely full flavored, smooth (apart from the initial spicy hit) and complex.
By the end of the first third the spice had decreased significantly when compared to the initial burst. The burn remained beautiful and the white/grey ash held together nicely, never flaking and holding up well until it finally broke off near the end of the first third.
As I started the second third and until I approached the halfway point of the cigar I noted a significant drop-off in the spice but don't exhale through your nose unless you want a spicy kick. This little cigar packs quite the spicy punch if retro-haled.
At the halfway point the cigar continued to provide thick white clouds of smoke but again, the draw was just too open for my liking. The cigar, not as complex as the first third, did exhibit some notes of unsweetened coffee, caramel and wood. Leathery notes started to become more prominent. The woodsy flavors shifted from what started as cedar tones to more oaky notes. Some bitterness started to creep into the profile which at first reminded me of unsweetened espresso but became harsher near the halfway point.
Just past the halfway point and until I approached the final third is where the flavors started to fall apart for me. There was no more salty flavor on my lips and despite the smoke remaining nice and thick, it lacked any texture to it whatsoever. The burn remained flawless but the finish was extremely dry and left me ‘parched’ on many puffs. The finish was not as long and it was harder to really find some flavors that were worth making note of. Overall, a considerable amount of bitterness started to dominate the stick with more woodsy/grassy/hay overtones. There were some mild notes of black cherry and unsweetened coffee but overall, this portion of the cigar was dominated by ‘plain’ woodsy and grassy notes.
By the time I hit the final third and until I decided to finally lay the cigar to rest, the flavors had become muted and very one dimensional. Wood and damp hay dominated the rest of the cigar with an unpleasant bitterness on almost every puff. Only very mild hints of spice remained and the cigar quickly deteriorated into a rather bland and bitter smoke.
The cigar at this point was very dry and bitter on the palate. A little more pepper re-emerged but the cigar as a whole lacked any discernible sweetness to balance the bitterness that had taken over the flavor profile. This is why I recommended a sweet beverage to help with the dryness and to balance the bitterness that took over for the last 30% of the cigar. Any complexity that was present in the first third and that crept through on occasion in the second third was completely gone. The cigar rapidly became quite woodsy and grassy. I also made a point of smoking it slow because of the very loose draw. I did not want the Melanio to get hot and, to its credit, it never did, staying cool the entire duration of the experience.
I must say that the final third was not enjoyable. While the smoke output and burn remained exceptional, the flavor was taken over by the bitterness one gets in burnt espresso. The flavors became bland with only wood and damp hay dominating the flavor profile. The finish was uninspiring. While some peppery spice re-emerged I just couldn't get over the bitterness that came back with a vengeance near the end.
Value is subjective and often remains one of the most contentious part of any review. If one really enjoys a cigar then a smoker will have no problem paying the price. If the experience is not enjoyable then the price has to be right in order to pick one up, even on the fly when nothing else might be available. The bottom line for me is that this cigar lasted approximately 40-45 minutes but in large part because I smoked it slower than normal because of the loose draw. I did not want it to burn too fast. Prices range from $6.70 to $8.00 per cigar. For that money I cannot truly say that this cigar offers much value. If you truly are a fan and want them, discounts can be had for buying a 10 count box. Single sticks will fetch you closer to $8.00 and at a couple of online retailers I noted prices closer to $9.00. There are better smokes to be had for that price range.
Overall Rating :
This cigar started very pleasing and after the first few puffs I thought I was going to have a really enjoyable experience. However, the complexity and enjoyable blend that had me smiling in the first third of the cigar slowly deteriorated offering virtually none of the complexity that was present in the first third. The spice settled down nicely but was always present to some degree. The construction and burn were outstanding but unfortunately, the transformation of flavors into a very one dimensional cigar in the last 30-50% of the cigar really left me perplexed and disappointed. If the cigar had managed to stay similar to the first third of the cigar there is no doubt that it would have scored higher. Flavors became less discernible as I smoked it. The cigar took no time whatsoever to open up at the beginning but all the positives turned to negatives and as such, the consistency of the smoke left a lot to be desired.
Positives included the outstanding burn and smoke output as well as a very enjoyable and beautifully complex first third of the cigar. Negatives were the loose draw, the lack of complexity from roughly the halfway point onward and the transformation to a bitter cigar not to mention the fact that the cigar’s incredible and thick smoke output lacked any real texture to it but instead contributed to a very dry smoking experience leaving me parched on many occasions. I would rate the cigar’s strength as medium. A seasoned cigar smoker can get away with smoking this on an empty stomach as I for example only started to feel the nicotine in the final third. More novice smokers should perhaps have something to eat first. The cigar makes a nice short smoke when time is limited. As noted above, the first portion of the cigar was full bodied, complex and smoothed out nicely after I got past the spicy kick that greeted me on lighting. Strength throughout was considered medium. Unfortunately, the smooth and full bodied tastes were only there for less than half of the cigar. As such, this is reflected in my flavor rating.