In the world of premium cigars, it is often the unsung heroes that drive innovation, bringing forth quality smoking experiences that the demanding enthusiast has come to expect on a regular basis. Such is the case with the Oliva family, which entered the premium tobacco industry in 1934 when family patriarch, Angel Oliva Sr., founded Oliva Tobacco Company.
Since this time, the Olivas have grown to become one of the most important players in the realm of premium cigars, being praised within the industry but unknown to the everyday enthusiast (not to be confused with Oliva Cigar Co. of Oliva Serie V fame). This is because the Olivas are an agricultural entity first and foremost, operating many of the most highly regarded tobacco farms throughout Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Connecticut, and Indonesia. These tobaccos are featured in cigars by Arturo Fuente, Drew Estate, My Father Cigars, and Rocky Patel, among many others. But second and third-generation family members John E. Oliva Sr. and John E. Oliva Jr. have sought to bring their family heritage to the forefront, introducing their own brand under the banner Excelsior Tobacco.
Partnering with Raul Disla, factory manager at the Nicaraguan American Cigars factory in Estelí, Excelsior Tobacco's inaugural offering is dubbed Doña Lydia. For this project, the family has unlocked the vaults of their most prized tobaccos, building a core blend of Nicaraguan, Dominican, and Honduran tobaccos within the cigar's filler. This recipe is secured with a high-grade Connecticut Broadleaf binder—one that is typically reserved for wrapper-grade leaf—and a select "centro ligero" priming of Ecuadorian Sumatra as the wrapper. This ultra-premium recipe produces a cigar worthy of the Olivas' tireless efforts, offering up a medium-plus body and layered complexities of toasted oak, white pepper, bitter-sweet cocoa, and chocolate-covered cherries lingering in the background.