Baptiste by Oliva | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5.5 x 54 “Toro-Oval”
Body: Full
Price: $5.65 MSRP (On sale at Famous for $3.95)
Humidor Aging Time: 1 Month
Dry Box Time: 48 hours


Today we take a look at the Baptiste by Oliva. A blend made especially for Famous Smoke.
Many thanks to Cory Grover at Famous for the samples.

According to the Famous Smoke web site:
“Oliva Baptiste Toro cigars present an outstanding Oliva-crafted blend in a wide caliber shape.

“Oliva Baptiste cigars present an outstanding, affordably-priced selection blended and rolled by the gifted hands at Oliva Cigars in Estelí, Nicaragua. Inspired by the character, “Andre Baptiste,” the ruthless Liberian dictator portrayed by Eamonn Walker in the 2005 film, Lord of War, starring Nicholas Cage as a rogue gun-runner.”

The Baptiste by Oliva has an oily, mottled, mocha/walnut wrapper. Seams are invisible. The triple cap is flawless.
The oval gives it a very classy look. Solid but with the perfect give.
Lots of small veins. And I love the cigar band. I swear it looks like a $10-$12 stick.


Presidente (7″ x 52) MSRP- $5.81/cigar
Grand Robusto (6″ x 60) MSRP – $6.15/cigar
Toro (5½”x 54) MSRP – $5.63/cigar
Torpedo (5½” x 54) MSRP – $5.81/cigar

From the shaft, I smell subtle hints of chocolate, cream, spice, cedar, and malts,
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell really strong red pepper, dark chocolate, barnyard, cream, and malts,
The cold draw presents flavors of black pepper, chocolate, sweetness, cream, cedar, barnyard, and coffee.

The start begins with a big bang of red pepper. Qualifies for a spice bomb.
Strength is immediately a strong medium body.

I tried one a couple days after I received them and it tasted like hay. So word to the wise…a month of humi time is essential because it is now a different cigar.

Flavors begin to unfold: Malts, creaminess, coffee, cedar, and a fruity sweetness.

I cross my fingers that the blend continues on this path and makes a lot of transitions. Wouldn’t that be nice to find a cigar for less than $4 that tastes like a $10 boutique blend?
I’ve reviewed countless cigars that start off great and then taper off into mediocrity.
Go Baptiste, Go.


The char line is spot on. Good indication that Oliva wasn’t fooling around with using good rollers.

I’m having iced Kona coffee for breakfast. Since Duffy lives in Hawaii, this golden brew doesn’t cost what it does here and he sent me some beans. I made a carafe of the stuff last night and stuck it in the fridge. Man oh man, this 100% Kona beverage tastes great. Plus I made it extra strong so it is definitely waking me up.
Thank you Duffy, my love.

The classic rock station on cable is swinging for the fences this morning. All my favorite stuff. Even playing Procul Harum’s “Simple Sister” from 1971.

I’ve burned ¾’ and transitions begin. The creaminess moves to the front. With coffee right behind. The fruity sweetness is a combo of berries. The pepper remains strong but not off putting. Blends perfectly.

I’m going out on a limb here but I predict that the Baptiste by Oliva will be a killer cigar. If blind taste tested, I’d quadruple the mystery price point.
The draw is absolutely spot on. I’d love a box of these. And they are still on sale at Famous. Their auction site doesn’t carry them. Bummer.

“Kashmir” by Zep is soothing my savage breast.

Strength moves to medium/full.
I’m very happy I have 3 left from what Cory sent me. These sticks go in my small “extra excellent cigars” humidor. I rant on this all the time how so many boutique cigars are way overpriced. And look at this…Oliva makes a boutique style blend that is $4. I’m screaming laughter.
The char line needs some minor touch ups but it is more for the photos than for nor-review status.
We are now very complex.

Oliva Cigars, in conjunction with Famous Smoke, has moved into the “New Breed” style of blending with this cigar. Normally, any Oliva blend takes months of humi time.

I was disheartened when I saw the price point after receiving these cigars. What a wonderful surprise.

The coffee and creaminess make for a fine cappuccino. Even has the chocolate shavings on top.
A nice nuttiness appears. Other flavors new to the scene: Cinnamon, nutmeg, blackberries, chocolate toffee, black tea, and marzipan.
There is a very long finish that makes me smack my lips.

Smoke time is 30 minutes.
What a joy to smoke the Baptiste by Oliva. This is the perfect everyday experience for just a few shekels.

Here are the malts: Chocolate Rye Malt, Coffee Malt, and Flaked Oats Malt. (See Malt Chart).
The char line is doing its job correctly.
The flavor profile makes a big bounce.


I think this small Toro is the spot on size for a flavor profile delivery system.
The red pepper returns as a major player. Yeah, baby.
I have absolutely no criticisms for the Baptiste by Oliva.

Again, the Baptiste by Oliva is a box worthy purchase. You won’t find a better deal for $80.
I’m at the halfway point and the cigar hits full body.
The iced Kona coffee is refreshing. Plus, it is a real wake up call.


Ever wonder how I determine wrapper colors? Here is the page.
The Baptiste by Oliva just oozes flavors. Plus, it is super earthy.
The long finish is the star of the show.

I’m having discipline trouble with waiting 2-3 minutes between puffs.
This little baby is going to get a spectacular rating.
The red pepper becomes black pepper.

On..nice. Dylan playing “Positively 4th Street.” I have been a Dylan fan since I was 15. (1965).
With a little more than a third to go, I’m telling you to score them. And remember, Famous Smoke has provided a 15% discount for any purchase over $75. Promo code is KATMAN
That brings down the price to $68.00. Or $3.40 per stick. Is that crazy or what?
There is no cigar on the market as good as the Baptiste by Oliva for the price.
Nicotine drops by. Oy. I don my crash helmet.
Creaminess is over the top. So is the coffee and malts.

Smoke time is 55 minutes.
The strength is super full bodied now. Not a cigar for newbies. The experienced palate will love it.
The last third is the sweet spot.

Flavors are bold and exciting. Transitions are lightning fast and change with each puff.
Finally, a cigar blend that you can hand your mooch friends who will be impressed. Tell them it is a $12 stick and they will believe you.
I love fawning over a great stick.


I finish my iced coffee and switch to bottled water. The clear beverage really brings out the flavors.
Chocolate makes a big entrance. Now we have mocha java.


Flavors are so intense that my cat’s toupee is spinning. Must be the nicotine.
My cat, Sammy, loves cigars. I have to shoo him away from the ashtray next to me. He loves the smell.

There isn’t a hint of harshness.
The black pepper is raging now.

The character of the Baptiste by Oliva is deep and rich. A cigar blend that needs no additions.

The screen on my laptop is dancing and blurry. Thank you nicotine. Lol

Black cherry appears for the first time. The blackberry element disappears.
A five pack is in the $21 region.
But I’m telling you, if you can afford it, snag a box.

The Baptiste by Oliva isn’t a mediocre house blend. It is the real deal.
I have no idea how Oliva made this blend at such a ridiculous price point.
Clearly, I love this cigar. You will too.
Only Famous Smoke has them.



And now for something completely different:

This story has nothing to do with rock n roll or sex and drugs. It is a story about the building of the Arizona Diamondbacks stadium.
Only nerds need apply for this story about structural engineering and near death experience.


I was a senior project manager for a company that did high end metal fabrication and installation. Rails, glass rail, stainless, bronze, copper, etc.

We had a huge contract to do all the foo-foo gingerbread stuff in the stadium. One of the things we provided was a two foot square panel, made of solid copper that was cut to show the Diamondback logo. It was cut using water jet technology. It is cleaner than laser cutting because it doesn’t leave burned edges. Laser cut edges must be ground smooth to remove the black. Obviously, water jet cutting is very, very expensive.


We provided hundreds of these panels and they were inserted, every 8-10 feet, in all the guard rails in the stadium. They have since been removed because the idiot architects decided not to coat them in some sort of clear lacquer. Which meant they wanted them to oxidize and the color would eventually look like an old penny. Which is not very pretty. Not to mention, people were touching them constantly. So the oil from their hands left bright fingerprints and the whole thing looked horrible.

I got the idea to make a 2” square version to use as key chains. I still have mine. I got enough for everyone at work but I had the shop coat them with lacquer so they would stay shiny. We paid $5 each for them.

Schuff Steel did the structural work on the stadium. And when they left, there was still a lot of miscellaneous metal work to be done, as extras or change orders, because the architects couldn’t find their asses with a metal detector.

The general contractor knew I had a structural background and gave us several million dollars in no-bid contracts to finish the stadium. Sort of a small Halliburton situation.

The back stop behind home plate was a metal wire mesh panel and designed to protect the people in those seats from errant foul balls. Believe it or not, the design was very complicated. The wire rope cable support was ¾” stainless steel. And the cables were attached using a swaged connection. This means the cable is inserted into a stainless steel tube and then compressed, or crimped, to hold the cable in place. This was stupid considering the amount of tension that would be placed on the units.

They should have used mechanical connections, which are basically tied off cable, but the dumb ass architects liked the clean look of the tube. This would back fire. And the really stupid thing was that because the connections were so high, no one could see them anyway.




The main cable was over 800 feet long. It stretched from far right outfield, down the first base line, around home plate, down the third base line, and then back out to left field by the bleachers.

I hired a contractor, that I had used before, that was out of San Diego. It took them over a month to install the cables. They had the cable connections fabricated by a company that does nothing but cable work.

Cables were everywhere. 20 cables were attached to the 800 foot cable to pull it back to create that parabolic shape. They had to tie these cables to the big swooping cable back to the second and third levels; thereby holding the big mutha’ in place. It required engineers to survey the installation so that as the cable was tightened in increments of 1/16″, the big cable would drop into place. One cable would be tightened a sixteenth of an inch, and then the surveyors would move to the next cable. They did this over and over in a certain sequence. Very complicated and I won’t bore you with the math. It took two weeks for the surveyors to get the cables tightened and at the right height.



I was there when they finished. Less than 30 minutes later, I looked up as I heard what sounded like a plane crashing through the sound barrier. The big right field cable connection came loose and the cable was shot, like out of a cannon, all the way back to home plate along the first base line. It flew several hundred feet at the speed of sound.

Workers were everywhere in its path. There was over 30,000lbs per square inch tension on those cables, so when it came loose, it tore dozens of bolted seats and threw them 100 feet into the air… and sent them flying into the infield. Where the cable just barely touched the top of the seats, it left half circles of missing plastic at the top of the chair. It literally dissolved the plastic.

I watched as this loose snake missed hundreds of workers in its path. Had it hit one person, it could have decapitated him or cut him in half. And God help us if it happened during a game. It would have killed dozens of people.

So you can imagine the brouhaha that followed. It got the same response as if a plane had crashed on first base.

The general contractor insisted that this time, the connections would be mechanical. Screw the architect. The blame for this was shifted to the manufacturer of the cable. In all situations, engineers over design connections, so that they are several times the required design. That’s how all structural steel is designed. The bottom line is that the manufacturer just let this swaged connection pass by inspection. Everyone asked where their quality control was? The GC demanded all their paperwork. It got ugly.

I spent the next two weeks supervising the re-installation of the cables. It was slow and laborious. It took four teams of surveyors and engineers to get it right. We had no liability and it was not our fault. But we were the messengers, so to speak. And the GC was really pissed off at us for something that was not our fault. The cable company took full responsibility for this and re-fabricated the connections at their cost. And they had to pay for the re-installation…and the four teams of surveyors.

I remember standing in the rain, due to a leaking roof, in the middle of February. The closing roof had so many leaks that it was like a rain forest inside the stadium. And I got sick as a dog the first week. After seeing how diligent I was, the GC got off my back and our relationship went back to normal as they came to terms with this not being my fault.

As expected, the owner of the company I worked for didn’t give a shit if I was sick or not. I was to be there every single day until it was fixed…10-12 hours, 6 days per week. I remember taking the cable connection part that failed and having it made into a coffee table curio. I had the connection welded to a stainless steel plate.

When it was complete, I spent the next four days in the hospital with pneumonia. The boss never visited once. Construction is a really shitty industry. I don’t miss it one bit.

The only upside was that I spent almost two years watching a ball park being built. From breaking ground in 1996 to the laying of the sod in 1998. Once the sod was down, they put guards around the playing field to make sure no workers stepped on the grass.

Later, when the park was open, I went to a game with the CFO and we had home plate seats. I got there early because the D-backs were playing the Cardinals. And I wanted to watch batting practice.


I remember being in awe at the size of Mark McGwire when he came to the plate. I was only 30 feet away. And I watched as he hit every pitch outside the park. And his last one smashed a hole in the Jumbo-Tron.
The D-Backs lost the game that day.

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7 replies

  1. Thanks for the great review KatMan. FYI to all: famous is offering a 12 stick Oliva sampler for $5 with the box purchase — that plus the KatMan discount takes the price to about $2.30/stick.
    Insane for a cigar to receive these accolades from Phil Kohn!
    Thanks for the heads up & happy Father’s Day KatMan.

  2. Thank you for the extraordinary review. I had been looking at buying a box of El Rey del Mundo cigars from a rival site. After reading your review I’m now stuck in a rock and a hard place on choosing. Those choices aside I notice that if you look close enough at this cigar it bears an uncanny resemblance to Oliva’s Saison offering from the CI Conglomerate. I completely understand that many blends/bands are similar and not all can be unique. Given the company, the similarity in banding and leaf stats. It seems this is a more mature spiritual successor to the original Saison blend than the Maduro ever could hope to be. The Maduro was actually a vastly different cigar as it had completely different leaf stats. Anywho that bonus 12 cigar offer for buying a box is pretty insane. Thanks and Rock on! \m/ \m/

  3. Thanks for the great reviews. I have been enjoying cigars for about ten years but somehow just recently discovered your reviews. I am sorry to hear about your health issues, but you are handling everything with grace, which is inspiring.

    I have a question that has been nagging at me for years: why do cigars that have been ordered online require so much rest in our humidors? All the sites claim to store their inventory in “state of the art” humidification… So my assumption was always that most sticks have been resting in proper conditions for a while…

    Your reviews are very particular about how much time a cigar needs to rest after delivery, so is it safe to assume most online inventory turns very quickly after deliver from the factory?

    If I were to purchase a cigar in a B&M for MSRP, I would expect it to be ready to smoke. So why such a difference with online ordered cigars?


  4. Stogie Fresh, written by David “Doc” Diaz, has the best explanation I’ve read:
    “Cigars are made of plant matter and all plant matter changes over time: sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. So, will a cigar improve or worsen with a year or two, or more, of aging? The answer is… YES!

    “I will start by pointing out that most cigars are intended to taste great as soon as they hit the retailers shelves from their point of origin. Cigars coming out of the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Honduras, just to name a few, arrive at the point-of-sale with considerable age and in prime smoking condition. The best growers and manufacturers are meticulous with their handling of the product. The tobacco has been fully cured and completely fermented. It has likely been baled and aged for 2-3 years prior to being used to make a premium cigar. After the cigars have been rolled, they typically receive another 3 months (or longer) of rest in aging rooms, prior to shipping. So, by the time the cigars reach the retailers shelves and, eventually, your humidor, they have experienced considerable change.

    “Nevertheless, because a cigar is a plant product, the tobacco will continue to morph and evolve (even if very slowly) over the course of years. Though cigar tobacco has undergone much fermentation at the factory, there will still be micro-fermentation in the tobacco, which will rid the tobacco of some of the by-products of fermentation. Ammonia and other compounds can make the flavor of the tobacco acrid and unpleasant until they have dissipated. Thus, longer aged cigars will often mellow due to the reduction of these chemicals.

    “Various other compounds within the tobacco will also change over time. As your cigars rest in your humidor, the oleoresins and moisture will migrate across the leaves, becoming distributed more evenly throughout the cigar. This will predispose a cigar to a more even burn and will result in subtle changes in the flavor. This process is known as “marrying.”

    “As the cigars continue to age, the flavors will change and may become less distinct. So, when you smoke a cigar that has been aging for a good length of time, the flavors that were once so clear may be more difficult to pick up because they have mellowed and blended. While this may sound ominous, it is often a good thing since the tobaccos will have a tendency to become smoother and will display fewer “off” tastes and/or less “bite.” You may be able to pick up flavors that were once masked by the other, more powerful flavors in the tobacco. This is the essence of COMPLEXITY in a cigar. Complexity is the emergence of layers and multiple combinations of flavors in a cigar.

    “In summary, the tobacco inside your cigars will undergo continual change through the process of aging in your humidor. In the next part of this article, I will discuss how to make the most of the aging process in your cigars.

    “It is difficult to predict how a cigar will age and you can’t be sure whether or not you will even like the cigar after it has some significant time in your humidor. The cigar may indeed be smoother and more complex, but there is no guarantee that you will enjoy that flavor profile.

    “It is the individual smoker that decides if the changes are good or bad and there is no one set answer for every person. Many factors are responsible for how any given person will interpret the flavors and characteristics of a cigar. The number and quality of a person’s organs of taste and smell, their prior experiences with flavors and aromas, and their ability to perceive and subsequently label these tastes and aromas will all play a role in determining whether or not they will relish the fruits of a well-aged cigar.

    “The best way to decide if a cigar is aging beneficially is to smoke many cigars from the same batch over a period of time. In other words, by smoking them AS they age, you can experience, first-hand, the changes taking place during the course of a cigar’s lifespan. I really enjoy sampling the cigars periodically as they age. In that way, I can check their progress and determine whether I need to smoke them quicker because their body and strength is tailing off rapidly, or whether I can relax and smoke them at my leisure because they are aging slowly and gracefully.

    “Long-term aging may take years and will require much patience. By purchasing cigars by the box, you can pluck one out at various intervals and note the changes that 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, and more, have made on the smoke. This is difficult for many people who don’t have that many cigars and/or don’t have the patience to let their cigars age for more than a few months.

    “Ideally you should buy cigars by the box for aging. That way you can keep them in their original box and away from the influences of other aromas and flavors of cigars in the same humidor. By buying boxes, you will have enough cigars to enjoy periodically for the long term.

    “But, purchasing boxes of cigars also has its drawbacks. It requires some serious cash, not only for cigars, but also for storage space. People that want to give their cigars some serious age must think in terms of large volume humidors. Either large coolers, or cabinet style humidors (see photo at left), or walk-ins. Providing the space for hundreds, if not thousands of cigars can be costly, but is a necessary adjunct to serious collecting and aging.

    “In summary, it takes a good amount of time, money, and even more patience to stick to a process that will reward you with the benefits of aging cigars. Aging premium cigars can be an educational and fun pastime and it can result in some optimally aged smokes. But, before you embark on a plan of collecting and aging, be sure to consider the potential costs as well as the prospective rewards.

    “I co-authored an article with Hendrick Kelner Jr. that was titled: Aging Maduro Tobacco. As the title suggests, the article was about whether or not Maduro tobacco has the capacity to age better and longer than non-Maduro tobacco. The topic gave us the opportunity to discuss aging in generic terms and we outlined the kinds of characteristics that will allow a cigar to age well. One of the more important factors in the capacity of a cigar to improve with age would be the strength of its tobacco and the total quantity of strong tobacco used in the cigar blend. Cigars that are made with a lot of ligero (i.e., tobacco from higher on the plant with thicker and darker leaves) will have the greatest capacity to improve with long aging. If these cigars are kept in ideal conditions, they will more likely develop increased complexity and balance and will become more harmonious with time. This, of course, is where manufacturers can help the consumer by giving the consumer more information about the tobacco blends. As I’ve noted in the past, many manufacturers are not forthcoming with such information and the consumer won’t have all the facts they need to make informed purchasing decisions.

    “For long-term aging I would recommend a humidity level of around 63–68%RH. A lower humidity level will allow the flavors and aromas of the cigar to concentrate more. As you allow some of the moisture to evaporate, the essential oils will concentrate within the tobacco. Those oleoresins are what contain the flavor and aroma particles. Also, a lower humidity will counterbalance any propensity of the tobacco to develop mold. The only caveat with this approach is that you must be sure not to allow the tobacco to become too dry, which would eventually cause the oleoresins to evaporate as well. I keep my cabinet humidors at 68%RH, which gives me a little margin for error and will accommodate all my cigars, even the ones not meant for long-term aging.

    “As a general rule, cigars whose tobaccos have been long-aged prior to manufacturing, will have less capacity for further long-term aging. The reason manufacturers will age some tobaccos a long time before rolling them into cigars is so the finished cigars will display the benefits of aging. These benefits would include balance and complexity, as well as nice flavors, right out of the box. Nevertheless, you would do well to remember that cigars whose tobaccos have been pre-aged for, say, 10-15 years, are likley intended to be smoked immediately, but their capacity for more aging may be low.

    “The only way to test the effects of aging is to periodically smoke cigars from the same batch. Unless you smoke the cigars over a period of time and compare the results, there is no way for you to know how they have changed with aging. So the best thing to do is to buy cigars by the batch or by the box and periodically smoke the cigars to see how their flavor and burn characteristics are shaping up. You will need to purchase enough cigars to smoke one every few months over a period of many months or years. Remember to keep notes on the cigars as you smoke them and compare those notes as you continue to age the cigars.

    “Remember that everyone has different taste preferences and your perception of “peak performance” of a cigar may differ from mine. More importantly, your perception of the flavor of a well-aged cigar may be negative, so be sure to sample cigars from any large batch to keep track of its progress. All cigars will have a limit to which they can continue to age successfully and meet your criteria for a great-tasting smoke.”

  5. Great read. Thanks for the cigar aging 411 Katman. Keep on smoking & keep on writing & keep on keeping on!

    7.1.16…May the force be in effect this weekend! \m/

  6. After reading this review almost a year ago I got a box of the Presidentes (7 x 52). I had almost forgotten them having buried them in the bottom of my coolidor. I had a few of them after a couple of months and just rediscovered them. As I’m writing this I’m nubbing one now! So good and still available at Famous Smoke! One of the best box investments I’ve ever made – especially considering the price! Thanks for your great reviews Katman, you’ve turned me on to some great sticks over the last couple of years.

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