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The History of Oliva's Nub Cigars

Shane K. K's picture

Shane K.

Nub cigars are short and fat. They’ve become so popular over the past fifteen years that dozens of other brands have copied the original Nub shape – the 460, a size that’s 4 inches long with a 60-ring gauge. Nub cigars are part of the Oliva portfolio, and they’re handcrafted at the brand’s state-of-the-art factory in Estelí, Nicaragua. Here’s a look at the history of Nub cigars and the staying power of their short, pudgy sizes.

Made by Oliva

José Oliva and his family had built Oliva Cigars into a well-established company before selling the brand in 2016 to Fred Vandermarliere, the head of a European cigar company called J. Cortѐs N.V. The Olivas’ history in premium cigars dates back to Cuba in the 1800s, but Gilberto Oliva Sr. and his sons are responsible for creating the Oliva cigars we know today. They began by making value-priced cigars for the Plasencia family in the mid-1990s before branching out on their own. Gilberto’s youngest son, José Oliva, became the face of the company and oversaw the operation when the most popular Oliva cigars debuted, including Oliva Serie V in 2007, Nub in 2008, and Oliva Serie V Melanio, which the critics in Cigar Aficionado ranked as their ’#1 Cigar of the Year’ in 2014. Because the Olivas are traditional cigar-makers, the brands they produce exhibit premium hallmarks, including well-aged tobaccos, flawless construction, and consistent taste and aroma. The Vandermarliere family continues to expand upon the strong foundation the Olivas created, increasing the size of their factories and farms to make an even greater number of cigars with the highest standards for quality control.

Nub Cigars – A Pioneering Size

José Oliva collaborated with former Oliva sales representative Sam Leccia to develop and promote the first Nub cigars in 2008. The story goes that Leccia began experimenting with making cigars in his garage by taking apart different cigars and reassembling them in unconventional sizes like the short, fat shapes that became Nub. Despite the unorthodox size of Nub cigars, José Oliva cleverly recognized their potential to stand out from other brands as he invested in growing the Nub portfolio.

The idea behind the short, chunky size of Nub was to isolate a cigar’s sweet spot for taste. Essentially, if you took a large ring gauge cigar and cut it in half, you would have two Nub cigars. The big ring gauge of Nub cigars facilitates a cool and easy draw in a slow-burning smoke. Nub cigars burn for a deceptively long period of time, some nearly an hour. Nub cigars are for cigar lovers who prefer fat ring sizes.

The Olivas enlisted Leccia to become the poster boy for Nub, hosting events around the country under the Studio Tobac umbrella, where they would give away cars and motorcycles to drum up support for the new brand. Leccia parted ways with Oliva shortly after Nub cigars began to become extremely popular, but the brand has always been owned and distributed by Oliva. You’ll find Nub in nearly every premium cigar retailer in the country.

Nub Goes Global

The number of Nub smokers is astounding. In 2020, Oliva opened up Nub distribution overseas following its strong domestic demand. Today, the best Nub cigars consist of five unique blends: Nub Connecticut, Nub Cameroon, Nub Corojo, Nub Habano, and Nub Maduro. There is also a stronger and spicier version called Cain Nub, which is based off Oliva’s full-bodied Cain cigars. Nub Nuance is a flavored version infused with sweetened notes of caramel, coffee, and cocoa. The critics in Cigar Aficionado have embraced Nub too, rating Nub Cameroon 92 points and Nub Maduro 90 points.

Dozens of other premium cigar-makers have copied the short, wide shape of Nub cigars, even traditional Cuban brands, like the Cohiba Medio Siglo. Jorge Padrón debuted the Padrón 1926 Series No. 95, a 60-ring cigar just under 5 inches, in 2021. Rocky Patel introduced an inexpensive bundle, called the Groundhog, in a 4-by-60 format, in his popular golf-themed franchise, R.P. Mulligans. The bottom line – the demand for short, stubby cigars shows no signs of slowing. Fire up a Nub cigar and find out if these chunky gems are for you too.

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