Melanio Oliva first started growing tobacco in 1886 in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba. His son, Facundo Oliva, took over operations in the early 1920s and continued to cultivate the fields. In the 1960s, the tobacco landscape was changing due to communism, and Facundo’s son, Gilberto, shifted from growing to brokering. With the pressure in Cuba becoming too much, Gilberto searched high and low, traveling to countries all over the world to find that distinct Cuban taste. His travels included places like Panama, Mexico, Honduras, and even the Philippines, eventually settling in Nicaragua. Today they are known for growing some of the finest tobacco crops in the world as well as being the second largest grower of Cuban-seed tobacco in the world. They also have some of the most skilled rollers and blenders to create their top of the line cigars.
If this particular cigar looks familiar, well, that’s because it is. Originally the cigar was released in 2016 as the Facundo, named after Gilberto’s father and Melanio’s son, but they had to change the name due to a trademark conflict with rum maker Bacardi. Now known as the Gilberto Oliva Reserva, this smoke is still impressive regardless of the name. Handmade in Nicaragua, this stogie comes dressed in a dark Indonesian Sumatra wrapper that covers an Ecuadorian Habano binder, and a bevy of rich Nicaraguan long-fillers. Medium in body, expect zesty yet smooth flavors of earth, leather, and spice. Pair it with your favorite bourbon.
The Nicaraguan cigar industry originated when Cuban cigar makers escaped the revolution and re-established their livelihood in Nicaragua with Cuban-seed tobacco. Blessed with dark, rich soil, their new home was ideal for tobacco cultivation and Nicaragua quickly became known for cigars that rivaled Cuban quality. Unfortunately, revolution and war came to Nicaragua in the 1980s and devastated the industry, but it’s rebounded dramatically and is once again producing tobacco considered by many to be the finest in the world.
The Esteli Valley is in many ways the heart of Nicaraguan production and is known for its very powerful and spicy tobacco. The Jalapa Valley produces arguably the finest tobacco in the country: somewhat sweeter and less intense than Esteli, but extremely complex. The tobacco of the Condega Valley is often described as a blend of the other two regions.
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