Oliva Cigar Company has a deeper history than one might first perceive. Compared to its competitors Oliva is a young brand, but its roots reach back to the 1880’s. The innovative brand has impeccable flexibility, which has become its biggest market advantage.
Melanio Oliva began growing tobacco in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba in 1886. The tobacco production slowed a bit when Melanio fought in the Cuban War of Independence. Melanio’s son Facundo took over the operation in the first half of the 1920’s and kept up the cultivation. Melanio’s son Gilberto took control and pressure from the Cuban Revolution led Gilberto to shift from growing tobacco to brokering it.
In 1964, Gilberto left Cuba for Spain with the mission of finding fields capable of recreating the Cuban quality harvests. This goal took him across the world, traveling to Honduras, Panama, Mexico and the Philippines before settling down in Nicaragua in 1969. The 1979 Sandinista Revolution forced Gilberto to end production, which brought him back to growing in those places he had previously visited, including growing for the Plasencia family in Honduras.
While working for Nestor Plasencia in Honduras, Gilberto Sr and his son Gilberto Jr crafted a new cigar which launched Oliva Cigars and was then known as Gilberto Oliva. The original cigars consisted of Dominican and Nicaraguan filler tobacco in a Connecticut-seed wrapper from Ecuador and a Dominican binder. The Oliva production returned to Nicaragua in 1995, which pleased Gilberto Sr who believed “Nothing compares to Cuba like Nicaragua”.
Tough financial times in the early 90’s constrained the Oliva family to use solely Gilberto Sr’s stock of Nicaraguan tobacco. This led Oliva to a higher quality, more consistent product as they began producing Nicaraguan puros, and now the longer import filler tobacco. Oliva Cigars expanded to become the second largest grower of Cuban-seed tobacco in Nicaragua, sticking around the north-western region near and in Esteli.
Oliva’s rich history produced high ranking cigars. In 2014, Oliva’s Serie V Melanio Figurado won Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar of the year. The year before Oliva Serie V Melanio was named Cigar of the Years by both Cigar Journal and Cigar Snob. It has also been named in the Top 25 numerous times. Oliva is a trailblazer in the cigar industry based on their work with NUb and Cain, innovative sister brands.
Oliva is still rooted in their family oriented beginning. The four siblings, Gilberto Jr, Carlos, Jeannie, and José, run the operation. In 2016 J. Cortès N.V., a private family-owned company from Belgium bought Oliva Cigars. This move changed virtually nothing in terms of enterprise because the Oliva family continues directing the operation, José Oliva is CEO, Gilberto Jr oversees tobacco growth and blending, Jeannie manages the office in Miami Lakes, Florida and Carlos supervises the factories.
Oliva Cigars intends to maintain their success by aligning with J. Cortès, José refers to them as “people what take tremendous pride in what they do.” Oliva Cigars is firmly implanted as a family business and last through all their struggles by maintaining their integrity and Cuban stubbornness.