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Stogie Reviews: Oliva Serie O Toro

17 Apr 2008

First, I heard cracks at the head as I inserted my punch. Then, I saw the thick stem poking through the filler. After smoking two-thirds or so of the stick, the wrapper broke and eventually just about unraveled. That was when I was finally able to pull the stem out.

Olive Serie O ToroAt two inches in length, it looked more like something from the live oak outside than a remnant from the tobacco fields. My surgery, through, resulted in a tunnel from head to light and soon rendered the smoke extremely hot and more or less unsmokable. All in all, not a bad cigar.

Seriously, this Oliva Serie O is a good smoke, a six inch by 50 ring gauge that’s a satisfying and affordable Nicaraguan blend of tobaccos grown in different regions of the country. The prelight aroma is absolutely mouth-watering. The taste is woody and nutty, subtle and smooth. If you’re a connoisseur of ashes, you’ll want to check this one. It’s chalk white.

I don’t recall what I paid for this stick, but I think they run around $4.50 to $5. And that does factor into my evaluation. I figure that one way a company like Oliva is able to produce good cigars at relatively low prices is to cut back on some processes, like quality control or finely matching wrapper color on the cigars in a box.

That means every once in awhile I will be forced to fiddle with the cigar or abandon it sooner than I’d prefer – the kinds of situations I would find unacceptable in a high-priced stick. And if such defects were common I’d quit buying any line, regardless of the price. But that hasn’t been my experience with Oliva. In fact, this is the first of its cigars I can recall that presented any real problems.

So I can recommend the Serie O, as I would any Oliva cigar. But I can’t rate it too highly because of the difficulties. It earns a rating of three out of five stogies.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: JR Cigars

20 Responses to “Stogie Reviews: Oliva Serie O Toro”

  1. Chris V Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 5:27 am #

    How many did you smoke for this review? As you've said, and from my personal experience, I've not had any problems with Olivas in the past.

  2. John Tant Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 5:32 am #

    Meh. I have a box of Oliva O Torpedoes that I received as a gift. The tobacco is of great quality, but the construction always seems to disappoint me…after about 10 cigars I'd say almost half had some kind of draw issue or wrapper/binder problem.

  3. Jon N. Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 6:59 am #

    Wow. Really sounds like you guys are ending up with the exceptions to the rule on your Olivas. I've smoked probably close to 50 of these in my time, and I've never had any major problems.

    This cigar likes to smoke a bit wetter than your average, I should mention. Normally I keep my smokes at 65-66 RH, but Olivas seem to prefer a damper climate to burn properly. I've moved most of mine into a smaller box set at 70 RH. Greatly improves the smokes.

  4. George E. Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 7:16 am #

    With Olivas overall, I'd guess I've smoked several dozen. On the Serie O line specifically, I've probably had four or five. And, as I said, generally no problems with any till I hit this one.

  5. Jon N. Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 7:55 am #

    Heh. You never know sometimes. Even the best of brands end up with the occasional "what were they thinking?!" dud in a batch.

    The other day, for instance, I had an unsmokably contructed Pepin Garcia JJ (normally one of my favorite sticks). The draw was awful, the wrapper kept cracking, and I extracted what looked like a toothpick-sized scrap of wood from the center of it. Not unlike the experience you describe above, actually. It was very bizarre.

  6. Ze do Charuto Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 10:02 am #

    I bought several 5-packs of these on sale from Famous for $10 each. About half of them have wrappers that are split and shredded, and fall apart as they smoke… Maybe a bad batch got out?

  7. Jon N. Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 11:42 am #

    I haven't smoked any Serie Os purchased in 2008, so it's entirely possible there were some QC problems with the recent batch(es). Hmmm. Interesting, either way.

  8. Jon N. Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 11:45 am #

    John Tant: A bit off topic, but what is your opinion of the Oasis unit? I've been a bead/Boveda guy myself for most of my collecting days, and I find that passive methods tend to underhumidify a bit if not carefully monitored (at least in my climate). So I was thinking about making the leap to active humidifcation. But I'll be honest; the idea of accidentally overhumidifying my sticks scares me to death. Out here, mold and beatles can quickly become a problem due to the heat.

  9. Jon N. Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 11:46 am #

    Err, "beetles" that is. As of yet, I've had no problems with Paul McCartney's suddenly appearing inside my humidor.

  10. Chris V Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 12:27 pm #

    I love my Oasis. Cut it up and replaced the foam with silica cat litter beads. That way you don't have to worry about the usual mold/replacement issue with foam cartridges. Some people say the oasis' aren't accurate… but mine is. And if it's not, put in an accurate hygro and go by that…

  11. John Tant Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 1:24 pm #

    I like the Oasis a lot. I stay away from buying the new cartridges, instead going the Chris V route by replacing the florist foam and refilling with distilled water when necessary. The key here is to avoid filling the cartridge to the top. The Oasis works by drawing air through the cartridge. If the cartridge is full of water then no air can get through and the unit is ineffective.

    My Oases (I have one for each humidor, plus a couple for my "mother of all humidors" from Thompson) are now about two/two and a half years old and I think they are starting to wear out. On one the display doesn't work and on the other it's difficult to lower the set point. For around a C-Note I would have hoped they'd last longer, unless I'm doing something wrong. Still, it's nice to have a set-it-and-forget-it humidifier. I wouldn't worry at all about it over humidifying at all. I think the biggest issue will be checking the water level in the cartridge on a regular basis.

  12. John Tant Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 1:58 pm #

    My experience has been that a wetter storage environment tends to tighten up the draw. I keep my humidor at 70% via a Oasis unit and I check it every day. Yes, I am that compulsive.

    I haven’t had any problem wtih the evenness of the burn on the torpedoes, but rather the draw (tending to the very constricted) or the overall construction of the cigar (cracking wrapper, etc). I will say that several years ago I had a few boxes of some Oliva (don’t remember what kind…they had a fabric band) double coronas and they were fantastic. I’m willing to allow that I got a bum box, but even at that I’ll have to think twice before I buy any non-parejo Olivas.

  13. David Friday, February 27, 2009 at 6:24 pm #

    I just had a Olivia G Maduro Churchill and was not impressed. Not sure if this smoke is much different…but the one I had almost had a chemical taste to it. When smelling off the burn I could smell chocolate and leather…but while smoking it, I could not. It was not very plesurable and I am left with a little headache. The burn was good though. Had it in the humidor for a month. It was the first out of a 5 pack smpler I bought. It will definetly be a while before I go back for another.

  14. brice Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    just bought a coupleof oliva serie o toros and the wrapper on one of them unravelled, very dissapointing, i’ll stick with the serie V from now on…

  15. Anthony Friday, October 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    An awful lot of Oliva-hating going on here. I have never smoked an Oliva Serie O that had any of the above-described problems. If anything, construction, draw, and burn seem better than most. I smoked a Serie O maduro last night that remained flavorful with great burn properties down to the nub, and then some. Given the ubiquitous nature of the Oliva Serie O, I would suggest smoking at least a 5-pack before passing judgment.

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