Wrapper: Connecticut Sun Grown Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero
Size: 5 x 50 Oval Box Press
Here is the finest cigar made by Oliva, Master Blends 3, and over looked by most smokers that go for the Serie V blend instead. It’s a shame because this is a superb cigar. I prefer it to the V. I got a 5 pack of these from Atlantic Cigar.
Oliva released the first of the Master Blends brand in 2003. 2005 brought about the Master Blends 2 …and the Master Blends 3, in 2006. The Oliva people had the vision that this cigar would be the flagship line of the brand. Unfortunately, consumers never caught on to the quality of this special blend and it fell from grace as Blends 2 and 3 came along. Once the V showed up in 2007, it seemed all but over for Master Blends. Yet the Oliva family believes strongly in this cigar and continues to produce it regardless of its low popularity and consumer identification. This cigar is also known as Liga Maestra.
The band is crazy intricate. The first bands, in 2003, were actually etched with a laser but the machine broke and they didn’t think fixing it was cost effective. Still, this is a stunning band. The front is a myriad of pastoral scenes and small symbols or crests. The side shows the portrait of what must be one of the Oliva clan but I could not find who it is. The back shows the year it was released. The writing is extremely small yet it is so well done that I can read it without my reading glasses.
The construction is superb as well. Seams are slammed tight. A few veins but hardly noticeable. The Broadleaf wrapper looks more like a maduro. A very dark chocolate brown. I’ve had this cigar for over 9 months and the oils that exude from the stick make it look like it was dipped in 10-40. The sandpaper touch tells me there is some tooth to the wrapper. And the cap is so well done it could be a single cap or a triple cap. I cannot tell. I went to the Oliva web site and there is next to zero information about the cigar.
I sniff around and detect hay, barnyard, leather, cedar, some spice, and very, very dark cocoa at the foot.
I almost always V cut my cigars now that I have the behemoth 4 cut stainless cigar machine with the big lever. I get perfect cuts whether it is a guillotine or V. And the V gives me less trouble with loose tobacco.
I light this baby up.
What a wonderful initial taste. Heavy notes of espresso, cocoa, leather, and spice. With a deep earthiness.
It is followed by a sweet tobacco component. This is my last cigar. I had long ago smoked the rest and found this on a treasure hunt in my humidors. Once in a while I go cigar diving and come up with great treasure that has been aged forever.
The body starts out immediately as medium. The char line is good but not perfect. I bought myself an inexpensive S.T. DuPont lighter a few months ago. It retailed at $200 but I paid about half. Single flame. And it’s been a real help to getting my burn lines perfect by not allowing the flame thrower effect on the foot of the cigar; like with a double or triple flame lighter…which is good for getting that stick lit in 1.4 seconds. With a single flame, I can take my time and really pay attention to the foot.
Smoke spews from the foot like a chimney in Pittsburgh.
The spiciness is currently black pepper as it affects the back of my throat. Red pepper always gets my tongue and lips. It is pretty potent, but unique. Nothing like the Garcia pepper pots.
An inch or so in, some delectable creaminess shows up and puts a smile on my old mug. I don’t have a clue where creaminess comes from or why it is there, but I’m glad it’s there. It so improves the other flavor components by enhancing their impact.
As I leave the first third, the leather flavor begins to move to the forefront. I can taste my belt. LOL. The espresso increases while the cocoa seems to take a step back. The creaminess keeps on keeping on….
Like all Oliva blends, they have an old school mentality. These are not sticks meant to be smoked right away. They need loving time in your humidor…6 months at the least to experience the blender’s intent. Not only is Oliva old school, they don’t crank out new blends very often. The V Melanio being their newest and a very good cigar. I reviewed it about 9 months ago.
The sweetness is gone. And the cocoa ramp up from almost nowhere and slams me in the puss. It exacts even more creaminess and I grab a Diet Coke for my egg cream, or chocolate soda, experience. A small sip of DC after a puff makes the cocoa and creaminess explode into an ice cream event. The dark espresso becomes more of a mocha latte.
At the halfway point, the strength builds until it is in the high medium range. I get a bit of cinnamon on my palate along with a tiny bit of nutmeg. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference when both flavors are very mild.
The final third is a continuation of the second. But now the pepper is creeping towards the front of my mouth and tastes like red pepper.
The char line is close to dead nuts. And the heavy smoke continues to be impressive. Heavy smoke gives me the opportunity to catch a better photo for the review.
I believe we have hit full tilt on the full bodied scale. My vision begins to blur like that night in 1975 when I took my last acid trip in London on my birthday. That was fun.
The cigar finishes out extremely strong and I have to put my seat belt on in the chair to keep from passing out. This has turned out to be one of the boldest cigars I’ve ever smoked.
Oliva has every right to hold this blend above the others in their line. It is exceptionally well balanced. It has deep and earthy flavors. And has similarities to some cigars that are in the price range I will never be able to afford.
This is not a cheap cigar but everyone should try this. A 5 pack will do. I think I will purchase another from Atlantic Cigar when I am through with this review.
And now for something completely different:
Into the way back machine Mr. Peabody….and yes another ex-rock god story.
I am repeating myself from an old review but I have new readers now and the nicotine buzz has completely wiped out my imagination so I shall go with what I know.
At the mixing of the Curved Air Live album, I was alone with the singer, Sonja, in the booth. We sat on the floor with our backs to a luxurious couch. We were at the George Martin studio, Air Studios. It had two recording studios side by side.
In the studio next to us, Pete Townshend was mixing the sound track for his movie, “Tommy.”
I would see him from time to time but I was still a California kid in too much awe to approach him.
This night, he approached us.
I remember, in the dim light of the studio, seeing a figure come through the door and make a beeline for Sonja and me. Turns out, he and Sonja were old friends. And mind you, back then…Curved Air was a huge progressive rock band in Europe. We were bona fide rock stars headlining in front of full arenas and stadiums.
As he came closer, I recognized him and my blood ran cold. He sat down on the floor next to Sonja; they embraced and kissed. I was introduced. The song, “Young Mother” was getting its last touches. This song just happened to be the tune in which my bass playing really shined. I was Stanley Clarke.
When Sonja told Pete that was me after he inquired who was playing bass, his eyes lit up and grabbed my hand and shook it vigorously. He complimented me with great sincerity…and then he said, “Phil, mate, you and I should get together and jam.”
I almost shat myself.
I nodded my head in agreement and warbled some nonsense as the ability to vocalize disappeared.
Pete brought out a joint and we sat there and all three of us shared it. Pretty soon we were laughing hysterically as Pete and Sonja told road stories. I actually fell over to my side on the carpet from laughter.
A couple days later, I found myself in a small recording room with Pete and Stewart Copeland (drummer for Curved Air and later drummer for The Police). We jammed for hours with the tape rolling. The only times we stopped was to light up a joint. Afterward, we sat in the booth listening to what we did. Some was crap and some was brilliant. I being the schmuck never asked for a copy of the tape. I have no proof of that evening which haunts me today.
Pete later offered to produce our next album…but it petered out. I didn’t know this at the time, but this was Pete’s heroin period. And he wasn’t exactly stable.
So for a week, I was on cloud 9 thinking I would be working with my rock hero. And then in a whoosh, it all went away and I never saw him again.
But it is a hell of a great memory!
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS