It’s hard to believe that it was back in 2013 when Rafael Nodal and Hank Bischoff rebranded their company Oliveros Cigars to Boutique Blends Cigars. At that time, Oliveros had recently launched two new brands – Aging Room and Swag. These two brands became the more popular brands in the Oliveros portfolio, so the decision was made to rebrand Oliveros and Boutique Blends. While the Oliveros’ branded cigars never disappeared they did go into the background. In 2016, co-owners Rafael Nodal and Hank Bischoff decided to bring the Oliveros brand back to the spotlight, launching the Oliveros Gran Retorno line – a name that was appropriate because it translated from Spanish to “Great Return.” Gran Retorno was launched in three lines – Connecticut, Habano, and Maduro. In 2017, Boutique Blends would enter into its strategic alliance with Altadis USA. At the time, Boutique Blends made the decision to focus on the Aging Room brand and put the Oliveros Gran Retorno on hold. Fast forward to 2020, and the Gran Retorno returns again – this time with an extra-aged blend. Gran Retorno is offered in three blends: Maduro, Connecticut, and Habano. Today we take a look at the Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano in the “Swing” (Toro) size.
When Oliveros Gran Retorno was launched in 2016, production was handled out of the El Galan factory in Nicaragua. Along the way, a decision was made to move production to the Plasencia factory. The 2020 Oliveros Gran Retorno line features tobaccos and cigars that have undergone significant aging. The aging of the Oliveros Gran Retorno involved a unique three-stage process that would involve nearly five years of aging. First, the tobaccos used in the blends were aged in traditional bales for 24 months. The cigars then remained “reposado” in the factory Cedar Room for six months before being packed and aged for more than 33 months in their individual cedar boxes in the company’s humidor in Tampa, Fla.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano Swing and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The Oliveros Gran Retorno Connecticut features a Connecticut Shade wrapper grown in Honduras over Nicaraguan binder and filler. The Gran Retorno Habano and Maduro versions are Nicaraguan puros, thus the Gran Retorno Connecticut is the only one of the three releases to incorporate a non-Nicaraguan leaf.
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: Plasencia S.A.
The Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano features a Nicaraguan maduro wrapper over all-Nicaraguan tobaccos. The Gran Retorno Habano as well as the Maduro are 100% Nicaraguan puros. The Gran Retorno Connecticut is the only one of the three releases to incorporate a non-Nicaraguan leaf.
Swing: 50 x 6
Banjo: 52 x 4 1/2
Fiddle: 54 x 6
The Nicaraguan Habano wrapper of the Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano had a medium to dark brown color with a slight Colorado tint. There was also a slight amount of mottling on the surface of the wrapper. The wrapper itself did not have much in the way of oil on it. There were both visible veins and visible wrapper seams on the surface.
The Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano had a black gold, and pale yellow color scheme. The upper center of the band has a pale yellow field with gold adornments and black trim. On the field is the text “OLIVEROS” in black font. The lower third of the band is mostly black with the text “GRAN RETORNO” in gold font. On the lower part of the band is a pale yellow stripe with the number “2” in black font.
Prior to lighting up the Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano Swing, a straight cut was used to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw experience. The cold draw delivered notes of earth, natural tobacco, and a slight floral note. This wasn’t the most exciting pre-light draw, but since the pre-light draw is not scored, there was no loss of points here. At this point, it was time to light up the Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano Swing and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
The Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano Swing started with a combination of natural tobacco, earth, cream, red licorice, and red pepper. Early on the natural tobacco and red licorice moved into the forefront with the earth, cream, and red pepper settling in the background. As the Gran Retorno Habano Swag moved through the first third, the red licorice note diminished into the background leaving the natural tobacco as the sole primary note. Meanwhile, there was an additional layer of red pepper on the retro-hale.
As the Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano Swing moved through the second third, the natural tobacco remained grounded as the primary note. By the midway point of the cigar experience, the licorice and cream notes dissipated leaving the earth and red pepper notes as the secondary notes.
There wasn’t much change going into the final third. The natural tobacco notes remained in the forefront. The red pepper and earth notes remained in the background. The red pepper notes were more prominent than at any other point during the smoking experience, but they still were not overpowering. This is the way the Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano Swag same to a close. The resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
The Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano Swing scored nicely when it came to the burn. The cigar had no problems maintaining a straight burn path and straight burn line without an excessive amount of touch-ups. The resulting ash was firm with multiple shades of gray color to it. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both had ideal levels.
The draw to the Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano Swing also scored nicely. The cigar had a touch of resistance to it – which is something that I like. At the same time, this was a low-maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
In terms of strength and body, the Oliveros Gran Retorno Habano Swing started out medium. As the cigar progressed there wasn’t much in the way of variance of the intensity levels, so as a result, the cigar remained medium strength and medium-bodied from start to finish. Both the strength and body balanced each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
At $7.70, it’s hard to overlook the value of the Oliveros Gran Retorno Swing. This is consistent with all of the sizes and blends under the Oliveros Gran Retorno line. This is a well-constructed cigar that delivers nice flavor. In terms of complexity, I didn’t find this cigar offered as much as its Connecticut and Maduro counterparts. In the end, this a very approachable Habano blend that I could recommend to a wide range of cigar enthusiasts. As for myself, this is certainly a cigar I would buy and smoke again, but my preference would still be to reach for the Connecticut or Maduro.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Earth, Cream, Red Licorice, Red Pepper
Complexity: Medium Minus
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop