In 2014, the Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado was awarded Cigar of the Year by Cigar Aficionado magazine, with a rating of 96. Until then, while different Oliva cigars had placed in the top 25, they had never had a top-rated cigar.
The Serie V Melanio range, with its Ecuadoran-grown Sumatra wrapper, Nicaraguan binder and blended filler of leaves from Condega, Esteli and Jalapa in Nicaragua, continues to be the most popular Oliva cigar. It was launched in 2012 and it does seem fitting that it was named for Melanio who started the family’s journey into the cigar world, cultivating his first tobacco crop in Cuba in 1886.
The Figurado is six-and-a-half inches in length with a 52 ring gauge in a box-pressed torpedo with a tapered head. The cigar is medium to full bodied with rich flavours including leather, coffee, wood, caramel and black pepper.
In 2016, Oliva Cigar Co. was acquired by Belgium-based J. Cortès Cigars led by Frederik Vandermarliere, the grandson of Mauritis, who initially founded the business as Vandermarliere in 1926, producing cigars in his attic. The family acquired J. Cortes in the 1970s and changed the name from Vandermarliere in the 1990s.
While the initial focus was on machine-made cigars, with the acquisition of Oliva, Frederik firmly placed the company within the handmade cigar space. Since that acquisition, Frederik has invested in improving the production process, including expanding the tobacco growing side of the business.
In 2023, as a homage to the 2014 Oliva Serie V Melanio Figurado, the Oliva Serie V Melanio Edición Año 2023 Figuriño has been launched as a limited-edition cigar with only 14,500 boxes of ten available.
The Figuriño is unique in its design as the only Melanio that is not box pressed. It is round with a bulging middle and both ends tapered off. It’s a perfecto, five-and-a-half inches in length with a 54” ring gauge containing the traditional recipe of the Melanio in terms of wrapper, binder and filler.
In addition to the traditional Oliva Melanio bands, it has a red band with a QR code that takes you to an Oliva Serie V Limitada 2023 video where Frederik, who designed the cigar, takes you through the inspiration behind the cigar, in particular the design aesthetic and how he views beauty.
That they were able to take that spirit and infuse it into the cigar is amazing. It is hard to find the words to describe what a lovely smoke the Figuriño is, especially the draw. Cold and lit, the draw is flawless allowing you to simply enjoy the flavours and notes that come through, including rich hints of coffee and nuts. In the last third, strong black pepper and spicy notes come through. I also found there was a lingering sweetness (caramel and molasses) throughout the smoke, but especially in the first and second thirds.
I cannot recommend the Oliva Serie V Melanio Edición Año 2023 Figuriño enough. I really need to get myself a bigger humidor. A box or two would sit well in the house for occasions I deem worthy of the Figuriño.