Oliva Angel 100 La Joya
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One of the great mysteries of recent stogie history is why the Oliva Angel 100 wasn’t a raving sensation. Somehow, they seemed to go right from the roller’s table to the virtual closeout bin. No advertising? No distribution? Probably both.
I hadn’t heard of them until they appeared on CigarBid.com at an average gavel price of $9.00 per five-pack. Between their pedigree and price, they were worth a shot.
Information on these is tough to come by, though Tom at Keepers of the Flame did an excellent job researching its origin here. Angel 100 was produced to commemorate the birth of Tampa’s legendary tobacco man Angel Oliva. Angel founded Oliva Tobacco Company, not to be confused with Oliva Cigar Company, the unrelated maker of the Series O, S, G and V.
Oliva Tobacco Company (OTC) operates and oversees plantations across the globe and supplies leaf to countless manufacturers, including Rocky Patel, Fuente and Ashton. As leaf growers and brokers, however, they do not produce their own cigars. Thus, production for the Angel 100 line was farmed out to NATASA in Esteli.
It features an Ecuador Sungrown wrapper. By appearance and flavor, it is at the very least a close relative of the wrapper found on the Ashton VSG. The Nicaraguan filler and binder are both from OTC’s La Joya plantation, and some Peruvian ligero is included in the filler blend. According to Top25Cigar.com, the Angel 100 is “the only cigar made from 100% Oliva family grown tobacco.”
The La Joya is a 6″ x 54 box pressed toro, one of four sizes in the line. It is full bodied from the start, spicy-sweet and woody with an interesting cinnamon note. I notice not so much the flavor of cinnamon (though it is present), but it has the same bright, tingling mouthfeel one gets from a piece of Big Red.
The character doesn’t change much as smoked, though it does intensify. The larger gauges like this La Joya and the 52-ring La Meca develop earthy, mushroomy flavors that I haven’t noted in the slimmer 1961 or O.T.C. sizes.
I should add that I tried a cello/no cello aging experiment and found that they mellow considerably sans cello. The spice recedes, leaving you with a smoother, woodier smoke. When left in their original packaging they remain spicy.
The only issue with the Angel 100 is that 25% are freakishly ugly. Colors are all over the lot. Some wrappers sport veins the size of chopsticks, almost as if they were rolled with the bottom side of the leaf facing outward. Others have handkerchiefs and caps that are a couple shades lighter than the rest of the cigar, indicating they were cut from a different leaf.
But don’t let these aesthetic flaws put you off. The construction oddities don’t extend to the smoke’s performance. Each is well-packed, burns evenly and draws easily.
CONCLUSION: Bottom feeders like myself who stumbled upon the Oliva Angel 100 lucked out. They’re powerful, loaded with flavor and take well to aging. I think of these as a poor man’s VSG. If you can overlook the fugly ones, there’s nothing not to love. They’re getting scarce, however. JR Cigars still has them in selected sizes at $12.95/5. Run, don’t walk.