Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Filler / Binder: Nicaragua
Background: So if you are a movie fan, like I am, the name Baptiste may actually ring a bell. I personally didn’t think there could be any connection between the movie Lord of War (with the dictator in the movie being named “Andre Baptiste”) and this cigar. Low and behold, I was completely wrong. The cigar was inspired by that character, and there are some simple nods to it that you will see other than the name itself. But if the marketing is to be believed… this one will be ruthless to the palate (but in a good and decadent way).
Appearance (0-20): The Baptiste looks good from a first look. It has the same shape as something like the San Lotano Oval, where it isn’t quite a normal wrap and isn’t quite a box pressed cigar either. It’s kind of a mix of the two styles. The overall cigar looks pretty solid, with a nice deeper wrapper on the outside. There are a couple of veins of note but beyond that it’s pretty clear and seems well wrapped with no other visible imperfections.
The band is where there’s some really interesting elements. This one is gold, cream, red, and black for its primary color set – which isn’t breaking new ground for Oliva as it falls within the traditional wheelhouse for them. However the nods to the movie Lord of War are evident here. The T from Baptiste is actually a knife, and flanking the central “B” on the band are two more knives. Really subtle, but they are definitely there.
Construction (0-20): As noted previously it’s interesting to see Oliva utilizing the oval style design. From a first feel, it’s definitely got some give to it to the point of being springy. No major causes from concern from the perspective of any potential pockets, but the prelit draw was on the tight side. The stick loosened nicely through the rest of the smoke, with a really solid ash that held for about 2 inches per.
Strength (0-20): Famous has this one listed as a being a full strength cigar, and I think they are pretty close with their assessment. I feel like this one is at the high end of the medium spectrum to begin and just slides into the full range. The score here is maybe more of a commentary that is isn’t strictly a full strength cigar but definitely builds to it.
Flavor (0-20): Before even lighting this one up there is definitely a rich scent to it. It’s got some woodsy and leather smells and something almost… musky?
Post lighting the first flavors are a bit grassy. To be frank, I was worried that this one might have been a little too young but was pleased when quickly there were some nice light coffee flavors that began to trickle in, slightly bitter and just a dash of cream. Progressing through the rest of the first third there was a bit of baking spices that you could pick up – namely hints of cinnamon and nutmeg. But the predominant flavor was what I am going to describe again as musky hay. Think of a time where you may have been on a farm – it’s got that kind of taste that a barnyard has – in a positive sense.
Entering the second third, the same musky hay flavor remains but there is a bit of pepper that begins to pick up on the retrohale. The flavor, from a base standpoint, remains with some extra bits of cedar, but as the stick progresses so does the peppery flavor. It never reached the point where the pepper is terribly overpowering, but it’s definitely a kick to the snout.
The final third adds a slight amount of sweetness along with the pepper, coffee, and hay. There’s still a tiny amount of cedar too. Otherwise not much changes.
Value (0-20): $5.63 is a solid price for a single. However buying this one in a 5 pack or box and it reducing the price sets it off even better…
Additional Notes: Paired with Glenlivet 18. Cigar provided by Famous Smoke Shop.
Overall (0-100): Everything works here. Lower end of the full strength range, good and interesting construction, and an appearance that is strong while sticking with the brand image. The whole cigar itself has a nice backstory when tied with the movie Lord of War.
The flavors are absolutely interesting with almost seemless transitions between the musky hay, nutmeg, cinnamon, light coffee, pepper, and sweetness. The nuances are done well, and really are pronounced almost perfectly at times. So everything is goof in that realm too.
So finally the price. When I saw the press release and saw the tag of $5.63 for a single, I knew it was going to be a competitively priced cigar, as long as the quality stood up. So the quality does, making this a good one. But here’s the big catch - when you find a deal on a 5 pack like they have now, and it drops them to $4 a stick, it becomes an absolute buy. I recommend giving this Famous Exclusive a try.