CAO has one of the most extensive lines of cigars on the market today. Most of them are very affordable and there is quite a spread of flavor profiles in their line up. The CAO Italia was one of the first cigars I tried from CAO some years ago. I didn’t particularly care for it and pretty much gave up on the CAO lines. Some time afterwards, I grabbed a Brazilia GOL and really enjoyed it. So the Brazilia saved CAO in my eyes. I was given the chance to review the Italia by CigarsCity recently and at first I was not too enthused about reviewing the cigar. But I bit the bullet and figured maybe my previous experience with the cigar was a fluke, so I went ahead and gave it another go.
Wrapper: Honduras grown Habano Maduro
Filler: Italian (Benevento), Nicaraguan, Peruvian
This cigar is not beauty queen as the wrapper has some fairly large and prominent veins in it. The cigar has an overall firm feel that relates to the thicker cold and warm draw. The band screams Italy with the colors of the Itallian flag with colors of blue, red, green and white. A deeply applied triple cap is a nice touch to the cigar that gives a good amount of le-way for cap cutting.
The draw stayed fairly thick throughout the length of the cigar, although it eased off some after the middle point. It was a tad bit thicker than a “milkshake thick” type of draw. At the other end of the thicker draw was a burn that was pretty good. There was a few areas of an uneven burn. They were no big issue as they never got that bad off or had to be touched up. From said burn came some pretty impressive ashes. They held for well over an inch & a half and could have lasted longer if I didn’t tap them off so I didn’t get an ashy lap. The ashes had tight rings with a lightly dirty white hue to them. Over all the cigar has a pretty good construction. Some people like a thicker draw, although not my cup of tea, the draw was not a major issue for me.
Upon toasting the cigar and the first few draws, I get herbal notes thats accompanied by a hint of a dark chocolate. The chocolate lingered quite a while on the finish and had a somewhat spicy note accompanied to it. Getting into the first portion of the cigar, the herbal notes ease off and merged into more of a vegetal note. Leaving the first portion, I start to notice the sweetness of the chocolate steps up a tad bit as I start to notice it more.
Heading into the middle portion, the flavors get a hint of a twang and maltiness that sort of hit me oddly. Its not a horrid flavor quality, but its not something I particularly cared for too much. The flavors stay pretty much the same through the middle portion of the cigar. Around the middle point, the odd quality of the flavors ease off and leaves a nice chocolate and vegetal notes as I tasted earlier in the cigar. There is a faint reminder of the spice from before and seems to be easing off. Leaving out of the middle portion, I start to notice more how cool the smoke is and leaves my mouth far from dry.
Rounding third and heading to home, I start to notice a small transition in the flavors. I start to get some espresso notes mingling with the chocolate. The spice is lighter than before, but still a player in the team of flavors. More like a clean up hitter as it lingers towards the back half of the draw of smoke. With about less than an inch left, the cigar takes a turn on me. It turns down a dark alley, so to speak, and its no where I really want to be. The flavors get muddled together to form one big flavor of everything previously mentioned, and more. More being an added twang and wood that doesn’t sit too well with my palate. I struggle through it to see if it gets any better, but like with every experience I have had with this cigar, it doesn’t. With that being said, I lay it down to put itself out in my ashtray and go to grab a soda to wash away the tainted flavors I just had.
The construction of the cigar was pretty good with no major issues with burn or relights, but the draw was a bit too thick for my personal likings. The flavors were “fair to middlin” until the last inch or two where they took a turn for the worse. It was almost like it flipped a switch and went from so-so to “so what just happened?” I would like to say that it was a one time happening, but every time I have had this cigar, it happens around the same point every time. I don’t want to bash the cigar as its not CAO’s worst smoke, but its far from being their best.
*This cigar was provided to me, unsolicited, from CigarsCity for this review. Many thanks to those great people for the opportunity to review this cigar!