Cigar Review: CAO La Traviata Maduro

Size: 5×50, Divino

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro

Binder: Cameroon

Filler: Nicaraguan & Dominican

Strength: Medium/Full

Price: Box of 24, $93.95

Grade: 9.3

One of the highlights of 2009 was the release of the La Traviata by CAO.  The cigar received rave reviews and in the online cigar world many touted it as one of their go to smokes, including myself.  We reviewed the original La Traviata here, almost exactly one year ago and here is a little background on the brand itself.

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.  “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.”

The La Traviata Maduro is the same blend as the original with the exception of the wrapper, which is a Connecticut  Broadleaf Maduro.  In August 2010 we began to see the La Traviata Maduro show up on some review sites and on some of the message boards; needless to say we were on the hunt for a few at that point.   We got our sticks from Mike at Buckhead Cigar, who is always generous enough to hold our favorites for us and also to ship orders.

There are three sizes available in the Maduro variation of this blend – Divino (5×50), Radiante (6×52), and Intrepido (7×54).

Pre-light, 1.9:
The wrapper on this La Traviata is really dark, oily, and has quite a bit of tooth in between the fingers.  There are minimal veins and the cigar is packed super tight with a nice weight in the palm.  The artwork on this smoke is the same as the original with the addition of a second band denoting this as the Maduro wrapper.  Aesthetically this is a beautiful smoke, it sets the bar high before you even put a flame to the foot.  I didn’t pick up a lot of notes along the wrapper on the pre-light, but the aroma at the foot is nice.  The cold draw produces solid tobacco notes that have spice mixed in on the tongue and back of throat.

Burn, 1.8:
I was a bit concerned about the draw due to the packing of this smoke but my fear was unfounded as the cigar drew perfectly. The burn on the Divino is solid for the most part, getting a little jagged here and there, but nothing that is out of line. I felt the Maduro version of the La Traviata burned a bit slower than the natural wrapper, but it could have been smoke management on my part. The ash holds well and is pleasing to the eye with a nice layer of coloring.

Flavor, 2.8:
The first draw on the cigar produces solid tobacco notes which were somewhat earthy in texture.  Into the first third, the cigar shows some spice notes on the finish and this is coupled with warm tobacco with a somewhat woody profile.  The spice picks up a bit into the second third but the overall profile stays the same.  There is some sweetness on the finish, very subtle, and is a nice note.  The last third follows the above profile but I think the sweetness is a bit of cocoa and the spice is still present.

Overall, 2.8:
So which one is better? To be honest, I like the original. The Maduro wrapper adds a different dimension, and not a bad one, but the original wrapper really brings the blend together in my opinion. That being said, this is a great smoke, just like the original, and priced at around four dollars a stick. You can’t go wrong here.  Pick up a few if you can find them and make the comparison yourself.

(Total: 9.3)