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The Oliva Dynasty: Deep Rooted Traditions


One of the most unique aspects surrounding the cigar industry is its deep rooted traditions. These traditions are an important part of cigar history as many of the most popular brands of today come from families spanning as many as six generations in tobacco. Being born into a cigar family comes with great responsibility as each generation carries the torch, which is ultimately passed on to their sons and their son’s sons and so forth. I mention responsibility because as consumer trends change over time, it is incumbent upon each generation to bring pride to their family’s rich heritage and ensure the legacy will live on as long as there are consumers who enjoy and buy fine cigars. While we have written about several of these tobacco dynasties, perhaps the most interesting is the Oliva Cigar Family, known for their world renowned Oliva brand, which today is among one of the most popular boutique brands on the market. 

The Oliva story dates back to 1886 when Melanio Oliva first grew tobacco in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba. The first plant wouldn’t be his last as he continued cultivating some of Cuba’s finest wrapper and filler until 1920 – excluding a short break when he fought in Cuba’s War of Independence. In 1920, Melanio’s son, Facundo, would take over the family business growing tobacco in the same tradition as his father did for over 30 years; with his own son Gilberto by his side. With the onset of Communism in the 1960s, Gilberto changed the family’s direction in tobacco and became a tobacco broker instead of a tobacco grower; a move that would ultimately save the family as farms were seized by the government. Still, with mounting political pressure, the Oliva Family was forced to leave Cuba to ensure their continued success. Upon his departure, Gilberto traveled the world in search of the best soil and climate to grow his family’s coveted tobacco. His journeys took him to Honduras, Panama, Mexico and even as far as the Philippines, making him a legendary piece of cigar history. Gilberto grew more tobacco in more countries than anyone else in the industry. Working with such a diverse number of agricultural climates gave him an unrivaled expertise in tobacco agronomy, knowledge that he would one day pass on to his own son, Gilberto Jr. 

Gilberto Sr. ultimately settled in Nicaragua after his many travels. For Gilberto, Nicaragua had everything he needed to grow what he felt was the best tobacco the world had to offer, a quality leaf that even rivaled those tobaccos he grew in his native Cuba. While he and his son Gilberto Jr. focused on the next chapter of the family’s tobacco plantations, his two other sons, Jose and Carlos, got to work expanding the Oliva Family into other facets of the cigar industry by constructing one of Nicaragua’s most sought after cigar factories which still make some of the finest premium cigars. Today, these cigars are still shipped to their headquarters in Miami and distributed to tobacconists throughout the US and many other countries. 

With dozens of awards and accolades from industry publications and experts, today Oliva is one of the top-rated and most sought after brands in the US market. The brand became especially popular by their Oliva Serie ‘V’ line which debuted in 2007. The cigar comes rolled with expertly fermented ligero fillers, leaves known for their robust and rich flavors. In fact, Oliva Serie ‘V’​ was one of Cigar Aficionados top picks the same year it debuted and since its inception, has remained a best-selling brand that’s frequently out of stock due to the time and patience it takes to craft each cigar. 

Oliva Serie ‘V’ was the last new addition to the Oliva portfolio of brands (apart from a few limited edition cigars) and for the last five years, the family has not released a new line. However, this summer, one of the most exciting pieces of news to hit the industry was an announcement from Oliva; after a half decade the company would be releasing a new cigar line in the second half of 2012. In Jose Oliva’s own words, “Our family has been so blessed by the success we have found in Nicaragua. The release of the Oliva Serie ‘V’ raised the bar for our family and for five years we have been working on a very special project to honor Melanio, our family’s founder in the tobacco business. After many years of hard work, we have found a blend that we believe will honor our family’s industry and not only live up to it, but also exceed the expectations consumers have for our products.” While little specifics are known about this new brand, sources indicate that the new cigar, Oliva Serie ‘V’ Melanio, will be extremely limited in production when it debuts this fall. In fact, some notifications to retailers suggest accounts may only get as few as one box per month. 

​ has had a long standing relationship with the Oliva Family and we’re working closely with them to bring this new and exciting blend to our clients upon their release. Keep an eye out for our next issue where we’re hoping to have a limited quantity available for sale. With so many years in the making, this new blend promises to be nothing short of exceptional, drawing on the family’s many generations of knowledge. 

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