The famous humidor builder, Elie Bleu, and Oliva, one of the world’s most renown cigar producers, join forces for a project that will stun aficionados. From 2023 up till 2025, Elie Bleu will each year build a rare collector’s item, a humidor that is an exact replica of an existing place that contributes to the Oliva story. The first humidor, representing Tabolisa 1, was presented at the PCA Convention in Las Vegas on July 8th at 1 p.m. sharp, by Oliva owner Mr. Fred Vandermarliere and Elie Bleu CEO Laurent Fusch.

Oliva prides itself in four generations of craftsmanship. It is determined to continue to build its legacy on the unmatched quality of artisan and hand-made premium products. To further pursue this quest, Oliva is partnering up with Elie Bleu, the Paris-based humidor builder famous worldwide for luxurious, hand-made casings.

123 casings, 123 premium cigars 

For this project, a marvelous piece of woodcarving in true ‘marqueterie’-style will be both exclusive humidor and exact replica of Tabolisa 1, the production unit Oliva built in Estelí, Nicaragua to become the embodiment of Oliva’s perfectionist philosophy, controlling, nurturing and optimizing the process from seed to cigar. No more than 123 of these casings will be released.

Inside the exceptionally detailed casing, the cigar aficionado will find a set of 123 premium quality items that are emblematic to the standards Oliva holds. 41 Serie V Melanio Figurado, 41 Serie V Torpedo, 41 Serie V Maduro Double Robusto guarantee hours and days of unrivaled tasting experiences. A treasure and travel box for the senses.

A prestigious launch

To launch this prestigious project, Oliva organized an official disclosure of this rare object at the PCA Convention in Las Vegas. Mr. Laurent Fusch, CEO of Elie Bleu, and Mr. Fred Vandermarliere, owner of Oliva, jointly presented the result of this first collaboration. Both gentlemen commented on the background of this extraordinary partnership and on the idea behind the trilogy.

Mr. Vandermarliere: “Oliva has always been about much more than just cigars. It is about every aspect of a passion, about how to experience that passion each time again in a way that celebrates the heritage with rekindled joy. To partner up with the best humidor builder in the world is a tribute to what the brand Oliva stands for. I'm happy we launched part one and I'm already looking forward to parts two and three”

Mr. Fusch: “Oliva is among those rare cigars that true aficionados worship. Because of its quality, but also because of its philosophy and its journey. We are proud to become part of that journey through this project, to write a chapter in the history of the craft together. This collaboration gives us at Elie Bleu lots of energy and satisfaction. We can hardly wait to reveal the plans for the next two humidors.”

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On January 27th, VCF (Vandermarliere Family of Cigars, owners of Oliva Cigars) officially inaugurated its new processing center ‘Las Mesitas’ near Esteli in northern Nicaragua. Together with Las Llantas, completed at the end of 2021, Las Mesitas is to become the backbone of a philosophy entirely based on the relentless pursuit for quality and a commitment to empower local communities. Both centers are part of the tobacco processing part of VCF, El Fumador, and are key for storing, processing and fermenting tobacco for Tabolisa, the factory of Oliva cigar Company.

Construction of the Las Mesitas complex, 10 kilometers outside of Esteli, began in the fall of 2020. Step by step it has been taken into use. Maximum capacity of the 21.000 m² area, which includes warehouses and green zones or ‘landscapes’, was reached in August last year. Completion of the office spaces, the clinic etc. soon followed.

Quest for Quality

A grand opening was held on January 27th, 2023. Side by side, 9 members of the Vandermarliere family cut the ribbon. In his opening speech, Fred Vandermarliere, who is at the helm of VCF, underscored the impact Las Mesitas will have on the future of the company: “As manufacturers of the world’s finest cigars, we are also guardians of quality, on an everlasting quest to find perfection. We are now very well equipped for that mission.”

Indeed, Las Mesitas is all about quality improvement and control. No less than 240 pylons of approximately 2000 kg at once enjoy plenty of space here to undergo the crucial fermentation process. For tobacco to offer premium flavor, temperature, tobacco moisture and humidity are the key parameters that are monitored 24/7, with a combination of technology, data and the eyes and ears of experienced craftsmen.
“Las Mesitas and Las Llantas, in Condega, both embody our goal to offer fans around the world the very best, every time again. They close the circle of production from seed to cigar and assure the entire loop is structured to aim for maximum quality. We control every aspect of the premium item you fire up to enjoy a unique moment”, says Fred Vandermarliere

320 jobs and a thriving local community

The Las Mesitas complex is state-of-the-art in terms of infrastructure and technology. It also represents a major long-term investment. 320 employers keep the processing center running, from logistics, operations and packaging up to administration and safety.

Las Mesitas wants to boost the entire Esteli community. With the construction comes an impulse to the local economy and support to raise education levels and upgrade medical safety. “You can’t talk about quality that stems from exceptional origin and is forged by exceptional people without talking about fairness. We invest in the local community because we want every premium cigar to connect everyone involved: from farmer to worker to aficionado. That’s the other circle, the circle of purpose.” says Ernesto Milanes, head of the tobacco operations of the Longfiller group.

This support to the local community extends well into the future, explains Fred Vandermarliere: “One lifetime is only a short period of time. But what we build, survives us, it serves many generations to come. Look at all the beautiful cities and cathedrals that have been built here hundreds of years ago. We wanted to achieve something similar with what we’ve done. It wasn’t strictly necessary and it doesn’t bring any money back to us. But we hope we’ve made Nicaragua a little bit better and nicer. As an industry we should take our responsibility. We need to help the city of Esteli and its surroundings. Maybe like that, 200 years from now they will talk about Esteli as they do now about Granada or Leon. I believe we can achieve that.”

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At the 2022 Intertabac fair, held in Dortmund, the Belgian cigar maker VCF won two Cigar Trophy awards. The ‘Oliva Serie V Maduro’ won the award for Best Brand Nicaragua. A jury award for Charity & Community went to the Escuela Oliva in EsteliThe Cigar Trophy Awards are an initiative of the internationally lauded Cigar Journal. 

Intertabac in Dortmund is an important annual appointment for cigar producers and aficionados around the globe.  The VCF family is always proud to participate in this blue-chip multi-day event. “To be awarded not once but twice, by connoisseurs and aficionados from the worldwide cigar community, means a lot to us. It is a reward for our entire staff. They all work relentlessly each day to unite craftsmanship, passion and ambition”, says Fred Vandermarliere of VCF. 

Oliva Serie V Maduro: ode to the depth of flavor 

The Oliva brand has been member of the Vandermarliere Cigar Family since 2016. But the name also carries along a trace of 135 years of cigar history. The Oliva Serie V Maduro is emblematic to the quality that is firmly linked to each Oliva premium cigar. It is rich in flavors that bring to life the Latin American plains and offers the complexity every aficionado searches for.  

Escuela Oliva: giving back to the community 

With a mix of nutritional and educational strategies, the Escuela Oliva in Esteli, Nicaragua, is making admirable progress developing the skill sets of more than 100 local children whose parents work at the nearby cigar factory Tabolisa by Oliva. Each Oliva cigar sold contributes to the program. 

A virtuous circle of quality and impact 

“It is one thing to win awards. It is another to be awarded for two very different things. And this fact makes us extra proud. At VCF we strive for the best experience an aficionado can get. We can only achieve this by zooming in on every stage of the process, from tobacco seed to end product. And in turn, this end-to-end approach has to be sustainable. That’s why we invest in our local communities as much as in our quality chains. These two awards mirror that strategy. They give us confidence to continue our path and double down on our efforts”, concludes Fred Vandermarliere. 


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