Brand: CAO La Traviata
Ring Gauge: 50
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican
Purchased From: Samples courtesy of Jon Huber
At Cigarfest 2010, Mike and I spent a little time talking to Jon Huber, Director of Lifestyle Marketing for CAO International, the day before the main festivities began. As we stood there talking, Jon offered us a cigar. He went digging around in his bag and came out holding a couple of pr-release La Traviata Maduros. After lighting up, Jon was kind enough to do an interview with us where he talked a little bit about the new cigar.
A few weeks after Cigarfest I got to talking to Jon on Facebook and he offered to send a few more La Traviata Maduro if I wanted to do a review. I got a little tied up with baby related stuff and had to delay a full blown review until now.
From what I’m told, the new La Traviata is due out around the first week of August to correspond with the annual IPCPR Trade Show. This cigar featured the same binder and filler tobaccos as the earlier release La Traviata. The big difference is the Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper.
Because we are still a little ways out from the official release date, some of the details are a bit foggy. I’m unsure what the price point is but I would imagine it is in the same ballpark as the previous release. I am also unsure which sizes this stick will be released in initially. I would imagine that after a bit of time the Maduro would become available in the same vitolas as the current release.
Looking at the photo at the head of this review, you are probably shaking your head thinking that maduro band looks terrible. You are right, it does look terrible, and it is a mistake that CAO is aware of. When I spoke with Jon he informed me that the band was placed in the wrong location on this run. Because this batch was made up of rep samples they didn’t concern themselves with it and and plan on correcting the issue when they hit standard production.
Aside from the red band in the wrong location, this cigar is beautiful. The wrapper is consistent from head to foot and exhibits a dark color and oily sheen. There are a couple of veins here and there but they and fairly small and do not create a lumpy looking cigar.
When I gave my cigar a pinch, I found it to be consistently packed with tobacco. I found a small soft-spot between the bands but it did not present a problem during smoking. When clipped, the pre-light draw was free with little resistance. The cold draw produced a raisin like flavor that I found pleasant.
After my lighting ritual was completed, my CAO La Traviata Mauro was evenly lit and producing plenty of smoke. The first couple of puffs were a blast on the sinus and produced a heavy mixture of stout and pepper. This combination gave the impression that the cigar was heavy handed and would develop into an absolute powerhouse. After just a couple of puffs things settled down tremendously and seemed rather gentle.
Throughout the first third the body steadily increased and leveled off in the medium range. The finish was creamy and easy on the palate while the dominate flavor was a simple natural tobacco taste with an added bit of sweetness. From time to time I picked up the flavors of both dark chocolate and raisins.
The draw remained free, just as I expected due to the cold draw, and produced plenty of smoke. The smoke was dense which made it very easy to manipulate through the sinus and blow smoke rings. The burn line was thin but a bit wavy from time to time. The cigar did require a quick touch-up but was not so far out of whack to cause problems.
As I rounded on the second third, my La Traviata was undergoing a couple of small changes in the flavor department. Most notable was the disappearance of the taste of raisins and the addition of a manure and musty combination. On paper I’m sure that combo sounds dreadful but it was interesting and not nearly as disgusting as it sounds. The main favor component remained a rich, natural tobacco flavor with added sweetness.
The body climbed slightly throughout this portion of the cigar but did not cross over the medium threshold. The finish became a bit creamier and remained easy on the palate. When the smoke was passed through the sinus I was impressed with how easy-going it was.
While I didn’t track the time it took me to smoke any of my samples, they all felt as though they were keeping pace with other sticks of this size. The loose draw produced a little warming on the fingers but that was easily addressed by slowing down between puffs.
When I reached the final third of my La Traviata Maduro, the cigar was in full stride. The body peaked in the medium range and the creaminess of the finish increased a bit more. Through the sinus I was getting a little bit of spice but more of an aroma that you would find in a stout style beer.
The core flavor remained a rich, natural tobacco taste with little variation. In fact, that was the primary flavor throughout the entire cigar. Surprisingly, I didn’t find it boring and was kept interested by the changing background flavors. The musty and manure combination passed and I was left with a woody (still reminded me of oak) and roasted peanut combination.
As the cigar grew shorter, it continued to get warmer. Slowing down my puffs helped considerably but it did not prevent the cigar from becoming a little mushy. The smoke volume remained heavy and coated the palate with each puff. The ash was light in color, for the most part, and held a tight compacted shape.
Without a shadow of a doubt, if the La Traviata Maduro is priced the same as the original La Traviata, then it is a slam dunk. Dollar for dollar, there are very few cigars on the market that can compete with this wallet friendly stick. As long as the Connecticut Broadleaf Mauro wrapper doesn’t drive the price up and out of the sweet spot, I think that this release is going to be just as popular, if not more so, than he original.
The wrapper adds a pleasant sweetness to the cigar that I didn’t realize was missing until I smoked the maduro. The only unpleasantness that I experienced was a touch of harshness as the cigar grew short and warm. I’m looking forward to trying these cigars again in the coming months and would urge you to check out the line when it becomes available.