Oliva Master Blends 3 Robusto

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Oliva Master Blends 3 Robusto

Recently Walt passed along a request for a review of the Oliva Master Blends 3. My initial reaction was something along the lines of “are you telling me we haven’t reviewed the Master Blends 3 already? Inconceivable.” And though that word does mean what I think it means, it turned out be very conceivable that the Master Blends 3 was missing from our cigar review index.

So to make up for a review that’s years overdue, I’m burning some Master Blends 3 Robustos that have been waiting years to be smoked. In my travels I came across a small selection that some kind tobacconist unwittingly aged a couple years for me. I noticed some bleaching of the bands and wrappers due to time spent under the unfortunate overhead lighting and I asked how old they were. He didn’t know but they’d been there at least a year, possibly two. They weren’t fast movers with his clientele. I made his day and bought them all.

By now, you’re probably familiar with the “Liga Maestra” line. (It’s obligatory that every review of the Master Blends refer to it at least once as the “Liga Maestra,” even though I’ve never heard anyone call it that in real life. Check.) But in case you aren’t familiar, the Master Blends 3 comes in boxes of 20, in your choice of four sizes: Churchill (7 x 50), Torpedo (6 x 52), Double Robusto (5 x 54) and Robusto (5 x 50).

But before we get to the review, I had to clarify something with the folks at Oliva. While gathering information, I noticed that there is some confusion over the tobacco used for the wrapper. Many places, blogs and retailers alike, list it as Nicaraguan leaf, proclaiming the Master Blends 3 to be a puro. Other places bill it as Ecuadoran. Dave Wagner (Oliva’s VP of Sales) and Ian Hummel (Regional Sales Manager), tell me that both are incorrect. The Broadleaf hails from Connecticut. Though being in error is understandable, Oliva’s website mysteriously omits the wrapper’s origin while listing source for both the binder and filler.

And with that small detail squared away, it’s time for this liga to master some fire.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: Connecticut Sun Grown Broadleaf
Binder: Nicaragua Habano
Filler: Nicaragua Ligero
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $9.40

The Pre-Smoke
The Master Blends 3 is another one of those cigars that easily qualifies as eye candy. The aerodynamic, rounded box-pressed cigar is nearly as attractive as the band that decorates it, though its ordinarily darker wrapper doesn’t have the oily sheen you often see on cigars. What makes this pre-smoke interesting is that my review assortment includes a few smokes that were bleached by years under some bad lighting. Aside from being a few shades lighter, and showing a fun tan line when you move the band, there didn’t seem to be any real issues with them. With the exception of one surprisingly holey smoke (two big wrapper holes, about four smalls ones), they were flawless.

The Master Blends feels a little different in the hand. It’s solid, and a little heavy for its size, but the big difference is in the feel. To the touch it’s a little like fabric.

There was nothing too unusual in the scent, it was a very pronounced barnyard, all hay and compost. The cold draw seemed good, if a tad snug, and tasted like slightly sweet earth.

The Burn
The Master Blends 3 burns beautifully, but I did run into a couple of snags. The wrapper cracked on two of the cigars midway in, and this led to some burn irregularities and touch ups. I’m inclined to give the cigar a pass though, as it only happened on the suntanned cigars. It’s not hard to imagine that light capable turning a dark brown leaf tan may also weaken it a little. (Also, I don’t recall ever having this problem with ones I’ve smoked in the past.)

Aside from cracking issues (and even during), these smokes drew well and produced perfect, bright white ashes that were in no hurry to drop off the end of the cigar.

The Flavor
The first few puffs set the tone with a rich and savory combination of earth and wood. A little way in, I started to pick up a sweet, slightly smoky spice and an enjoyable leafy aromatic cedar.

The Master Blends 3 hit its stride in the second third. The sweet smokey spice and the aromatic leafy cedar became the dominant flavors with earth playing a supporting role. Later on, black coffee and cinnamon emerged as sweet spice began to fade. I also picked up a brief graham note or two just at the end.

Cinnamon, earth and faintly aromatic cedar held court in the final third with rich tobacco and coffee flavors in the finish. There were a few more slightly sweet graham moments before the final puff as well.

The Price
The pricing of the Master Blends 3 seems in line with the rest of the cigars in Oliva’s portfolio. As their top shelf selection, it is more expensive than the rest, but it’s still under the ten dollar mark, at least in the robusto size, keeping it in reach of tight budgets.

The Verdict
There’s no getting around it, the Master Blends 3 is a solid smoke. Even in its advanced age, the cigar doesn’t appear to have mellowed too out much in body, flavor or potency. Aside from the appearance, the differences I noted in these aged sticks included a touch more sweetness and aromatic qualities and an improved melding of flavors.

If, like us, you’ve overlooked the Master Blends 3, do yourself a favor and give it a try, especially you come across some that have had a little time to rest. Or pick up a couple extra and set them aside for a while, good things do come to those who wait.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.

enjoying cigars since 1997

26 thoughts on “Oliva Master Blends 3 Robusto

  1. Nice review. Excellent info on the mystery wrapper. A long time ago in a galaxy far far away I stumbled upon a closeout deal and bought 5 boxes. These are tasty little aged smokes.

  2. Nice review. I have had a couple of these but they have been so few and far between that i cant honestly remember them. I was just gifted one when the Steelers whooped ass 2 weeks in a row (GO STEELERS) so I will be smoking it soon.

    Local shop has the churchill size for sale I think. Has anyone had the churchill and can compare it to the robusto?

  3. I smoked my first Master Blend 3 after having spent a week smoking nothing but Cuban cigars (Partagas & Cohiba). I remember thinking afterwards…there is absolutely no drop-off from those cigars to this one. I am a slave to the Master Blend.

  4. Forgot to mention I have to be very gentle with my clipping of the cigar head and usually make a very small cut or find that the draw is way too loose. I usually have to chomp down on them to keep the draw tight when I clip too much.

  5. Is it just me or does the cigar on the left in the 4th photo down have a number (46? 76?) on the wrapper just above the band?

    Either way, great review as always.

    1. Yeah, I see that. Interesting. I assume it’s some quirk created by the lighting and angle. Unfortunately I can’t check the cigar, it long ago perished in a small fire.

  6. Never tried these, I will be on the look out. Hey Mike I hope the Packers kick your boy’s asses. I wouldn’t say the Steelers whooped the Jets ass either. The Jets man handled them the whole 2nd half. They did get the win but I wouldn’t be so cocky about it. I think they were very lucky.

  7. These are at the top of my list (both the double robusto and the robusto vitolas). I’ve never seen different wrapper shades (or different colors on the labels), however you’ve got one label with maroon and the other with a lime green coloring, which I wouldn’t think would be an effect of the poor lighting exposure. Maybe I misunderstood what you said above, but what’s the deal here? Two different labels/wrapper shades, or did the maroon label actually turn to green in the light? Weird..

  8. Just received a 5-pack from a “famous” retailer – they sure need some time in the humidor, that’s for sure. I love Oliva cigars; smoke mostly the Cain & Nub series. Wasn’t the least impressed with the MB3 I smoked this evening…Bummer..

    1. I’ve found that certain cigars from “that” retailer need some resting time, as they have come to me overy humidified. They were hard to keep lit and turned into mush-balls with harsh flavors, but after a few (or several) months at a lower RH turned into the enjoyable smokes I had read about. Let those MB3’s sit for awhile, and I’m sure you’ll like them.

  9. I’m smoking one of these now. Got in the mail in a bomb package. Being a new, 6 month smoker, this thing is fabulous. I love your reviews. I make it a priority as I pick up new sticks to head over here and read the reviews as they help me pick up the flavor profiles. Thanks again and keep up the great work.

  10. This is one of my favorites. Though I’ve never personally had a bad Oliva, this is my favorite of them all. I love the V, but the Master Blend 3 tops that to my taste. Always keep a number in my humidor.

  11. I was told by my local tobacconist Oliva no longer makes this. Is this true? One of his employees said the strength was ” mild to medium”; turned out to be absurd. Medium to strong.

    I get espresso and cocoa notes as well.

  12. This is one of my favorites. Always have some in my box. I’ve never experienced tbe cracking mentioned, But suspect that was due to the age and conditions of humidification.

  13. I got a sample pack of 5 Oliva cigars. This was one.I really enjoyed the experience. Nice easy draw ,thick ash,flavorful smoke.Cedar earth and light coffee notes. Even burn. I found that letting it rest in my humidor for several months helps to bring out the character. One of my new favorite.

  14. This cigar I find to be very smooth although very bold nice flavor great tasting stick very enjoyable.

  15. Always have these in my humidors. Definitely want to let these rest a few weeks or months but an unbelievable tasty smoke. I always buy these in 10 packs for $40-$50. At that price it is a steal for a great hour or 2. Highly recommend these.

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