Cigar Review: CAO La Traviata


Size: 5×50, Robusto (Divino)

Wrapper: Ecaudorian Habano

Binder: Cameroon

Filler: Nicraguan & Dominican


Strength: Full

Price: Box of 24, $130

Grade: 9.5

The CAO La Traviata is another smoke that has garnered a great deal of conversation around the blogosphere and on Twitter. Announced at this year’s IPCPR event, held on August 8-12 in New Orleans, CAO picks up a time honored tradition on this cigar. The mission is best stated in the press release from CAO:

The La Traviata brand began its life at the turn of the 20th Century in Cuba or, more precisely, in the Tabacalera Cubana, Agramonte no. 106, in Havana. Over 100 years later, CAO has resurrected the La Traviata name, abiding closely to its original Cuban roots in presentation and taste. CAO La Traviata is a full-bodied, full-flavored cigar that combines an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with a Cameroon binder and incorporates two different ligero filler tobaccos from the Pueblo Nuevo farm in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. “The inspiration for La Traviata came from smoking numerous classic Cuban cigars,” said CAO President Tim Ozgener. “We wanted to create a cigar that appealed to sight, smell, and taste. The oily sheen of the Ecuadorian wrapper compels you to pick it up. The pre-light has a distinct pepper and leather nose. The flavor bombards the palate with intense, rich notes of cedar, anise, and leather, evolving along the way into a lush and creamy finish. We’ve also stayed true to the original La Traviata vista and artwork circa 1901-1904.”

Packaged in 24-count boxes, CAO La Traviata will be available in three shapes: Divino (5″ x 50), Radiante (6″ x 52), and Intrepido (7″ x 54), and will have a suggested retail price range of $4.95 to $5.75 per cigar.

With buzz mounting, I picked this smoke up at a shop near Atlanta on a recent client visit. It looked great on the shelf and, after conferring with my partner in crime here at Toasted Foot, I decided to review this CAO blend for our first week launch.

Pre-light, 1.9:
The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper on this smoke had a nice, oily sheen to it with minimal veins. The dark brown color was very rich and appealing and the cigar was well constructed with a nice weight and no soft spots. La Traviata is featured prominently on the label, which I believe translates to the woman who strayed. The color combination of gold, deep yellow, wine, and blue is very classy and a departure from the edgy labels we are accustomed to from CAO. The pre-light aroma is of earthy tobacco with some warm spice at the foot. The cold draw was heavy on spice in the back of the throat and in the nose.

Burn, 1.8:
The draw was excellent, could not be better, and produced loads of aromatic smoke. The burn was pretty even and required no touch ups or re-lights. The ash did not hold past one inch and was very flaky, but I expected this because of the draw. The cigar was relatively cool the entire length of the smoke.

Flavor, 2.9:
The first draw on this cigar produced a ton of smoke that tasted of earthy tobacco and some leather. The first third continued this flavor profile but the cigar seemed to take on a more roasted flavor at times. There was some pepper on the exhale but it was not prominent. The second third became a bit creamier with a few notes of cocoa on the palate. There was a hint of sweetness at times but was not consistent. The last third of the La Triviata seemed to mellow out and I picked up notes of cedar. The entire smoke was very full in flavor and coated the palate with a long finish.

Overall, 2.9:
Wow, at about $5.50 a stick this one is a must have. I hated to see it end; I smoked it to the nub and wished for more. I would call this a full bodied smoke, but it was not as heavy as I anticipated. CAO really blended this smoke well—this is without a doubt box worthy!

(Total: 9.5)