Getting out of a smoking rut doesn’t necessarily mean switching cigar brands, as long as the brand offers a line up with some variety. Oliva is definitely a brand in this category—all you have to do is take a look at the lineup in this picture to get an idea of what this company brings to market as far as differing blends and wrappers. From left to right, there’s the Oliva Connecticut Reserve, the Oliva Master Blends III, the Oliva Serie G Cameroon, the Oliva Serie O Sun Grown, and the Oliva Serie O Broadleaf Maduro. This shot is also a good comparison of wrapper characteristics, as the ones on these cigars are as classic as they come. The Oliva Connecticut Reserve features a shade-grown Connecticut wrapper around Nicaraguan binder and filler tobaccos. Because they’re grown in the shade, shade-grown Connecticut wrappers are always on the lighter side when it comes to color, ranging from a light tan to a light brown. Also due to their shade heritage, they’re delicate and silky to the touch. They appear to be, and are, thinner than most other wrappers. Cigars with these wrappers are typically on the mild to medium side; this cigar is definitely in this category. (Some further notes on this cigar: Oliva is noted, in general, as producing cigars on the medium to full side; the Connecticut Reserve was developed to round out the company’s line by offering a cigar on the mild side. Why we’re not sure. But they created a good one, although this cigar’s mildness could be debated. Yes, it’s mild compared with Oliva’s other offerings, but it’s also on the spicy side—specifically, pepper; and maybe too much so for anyone looking for a mild smoke. That said, this cigar was an enjoyable smoke right down to the nub, with beautiful construction that yielded an even burn, albeit a somewhat fast one, from start to finish.) The Master Blends III and the Serie O Sun Grown both sport sun-grown, Connecticut broadleaf wrappers, and the sun-grown difference is apparent. These are sturdier wrappers that can stand up to more aging than their shade-grown kin, with the result being darker color and a fuller taste. The Master Blends III is a special cigar in the Oliva line up, being a limited edition artisanal blend, featuring a Nicaraguan Habano binder and Nicaraguan Ligero filler tobaccos for a full-bodied, sophisticated smoke. The Serie O Sun Grown is a Nicaraguan puro grown from Cuban seed. It’s a rich smoke, full of dark tobacco, cedar, and spice, and it’s a top-ranked one, too—it earned a 92 rating from Cigar Aficionado magazine. The Oliva Serie G Cameroon that’s in the middle of the shot shows the slightly reddish cast that wrappers are grown in this country typically have. Cameroon wrappers are typically on the medium side; this cigar ranks in this category with its Cuban-seed Habano binder and Nicaraguan Habano filler. Finally, the Serie O Broadleaf Maduro shows the classic, darker brown color that characterizes these wrappers, the product of the long curing process required to turn them their darker color. Maduro wrappers often have more texture and veining than lighter wrappers because they are heavier leaves, to begin with, as this one clearly is. This particular cigar is a medium-bodied, rich smoke with the same binder and filler as the Serie G Cameroon. If you’re not familiar with this company’s products, we invite you to sample a few. Oliva makes a truly fine cigar with superb construction and at a reasonable price. Also available, but not shown here, is the Oliva Serie V, noted as “a complex blend of Nicaraguan long-filler tobaccos, blended with specially fermented Jalapa Valley Ligero, and finished with a high priming Habano Sun Grown Wrapper.” Oliva states that this cigar is blended to deliver full body taste while maintaining an unparalleled smoothness. We believe them.