CAO La Traviata Intrépido Saturday, Jun 19 2010 


Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Cameroon
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican
Size: Double Corona 7.0″ x 54 ring
Courtesy of

I don’t know about you, but over the past several years it seemed to me that everything CAO did was centered around some kind of gimmick.  Neon lighted humidors, barber pole wrappers, car trunk cigar boxes, etc.  The focus has been all on the marketing and gimmicks to the point it seemed as if they had lost touch with just making cigars.  It showed in the quality of the smokes they were putting out too.  Then the go and release the La Taviata.  No gimmicks, no fancy boxes or over the top elaborate modernized bands.  Just a classic style cigar with a classic looking band and even using an old classic Cuban brand name.  Very un-CAO like really.  I have to say they should concentrate on the cigar itself more often, but more on that soon.

The Intrépido is a BIG cigar.  I called it a double corona in the stats list above, but with a 54 ring gauge it is one big ass DC.  Perhaps calling it a Gigante would be more accurate.  It has a good-looking Colorado wrapper, a little oily and a bit bumpy.  It is finished off with a sloppy looking cap and moderately simple band.  As big as this cigar is, it is packed full of tobacco.  There were no soft spots to be found, the draw excellent and the burn was razor-sharp.

After a bit of a peppery start this cigar is very woodsy with lots of cedar and oak as the dominate flavors and just beneath the covers is a slightly sweet spice the balances it out nicely.  I have to think that is courtesy of the Cameroon binder.  At different times during this very long smoke (I smoked this a little north of two hours) I picked up some leather, coffee,and licorice.  I found it to be a nicely balanced and decently complex smoke.  It is a far better cigar than its very modest price tag would imply.  The Intrépido is the largest size in the line and it only costs around $6.  CAO departed from their glitzy high-priced and gimmicky approach with this cigar and it easily the best cigar they have made in the past decade and it is an inexpensive and economical smoke that far out-performs its price tag.  I found it to be a very good medium bodied cigar.  This size however is a bit too large for me.  It was very hard pressed to finish it. I wouldn’t classify this as a strong cigar, but rather because of it size and the sheer volume of tobacco I had to smoke to get through it, I started to feel a little green towards the end.  I think the shorter vitolas would suit me much better.

CAO America Potomac Thursday, Apr 2 2009 

Country: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro and Connecticut Shade
Binder: Brazilian
Filler: Dominican, Nicaraguan, Italian, and American (100% Ligero)
Size: Robusto 5.0" x 56 ring
Courtesy of

The CAO America was introduced at the 2007 RTDA trade show in Huston, Texas.  Its arrival was preceded by a lot of hype and buzz brought about by two unique features of the cigar.  Number one, the wrapper caused a good deal of buzz.  The CAO America sports two wrappers, both American grown.  It has a Connecticut grown broadleaf maduro wrapper and a Connecticut shade grown wrapper.  They are applied to the cigar in a manner that creates a unique pin striping effect.  Another feature of the cigar that generated a good deal of chatter was the four country blend of 100% Ligero filler.  This was reported to be one of the strongest most full-bodied cigars in the CAO portfolio.  Available in six sizes, every one of them boasting a girthy ring gauge of 50 or above:

  • Anthem (8.5″ x 50)
  • Bottle Rocket (7.0″ x 50)
  • Constitution (6.0″ x 50)
  • Landmark (6.0″ x 60)
  • Monument (6.2″ x 54)
  • Potomac (5.0″ x 56)

It takes a lot of tobacco to fill a cigar with a 50 ring gauge, and even more for a cigar with a 56 ring.  When the filler is supposed to be 100% ligero, it is only natural that you expect that cigar to be powerful beast of a smoke.  However, the reputation of the CAO America has preceded its arrival in my humidor and I am well aware of the many reports that this cigar falls well short of the hype and apparently it is not nearly as full bodied as CAO would have us all believe.  That said, I like to judge these things for myself so I am trying to approach this smoke with an open mind…

As a loudly proclaimed lover of Lonsdales and Coronas it will come as no surprise that I am bothered by the awkwardness of the large ring gauge of the Potomac.  I feel like I have a big jawbreaker candy in my mouth when smoking it.  The flavors start off smooth.  Strong notes of Leather and damp earth dominate the beginning of the smoke.  It starts off medium in body and mild in strength with no real threat of being any fuller.  The flavors are decent though muddled at times and they never really change.  Lots of leather and earth and some occasional creamy notes.  The burn was impressive.  With the two different wrappers I expected it to run a little uneven at the least but it stayed very straight burning perfectly the whole time.  The ash was white and perfectly formed.  It holds on tight and needs to be tapped off.    Overall I’d say the CAO America is a good smoke, but not a great one.  The ring gauge is a problem for me.  I really dislike the girth of it.  It was very uncomfortable to smoke.  I’d probably have less of a problem with one of the 50 ring vitolas.  It is a bit one dimensional, but the flavors are enjoyable.  The construction is impeccable.  This is supposed to be CAO’s most robust offering but I found the CAO Anniversary Maduro to be more full bodied than this cigar.  The America really is a Medium bodied smoke never really approaching anything I’d considered full bodied.  from that standpoint it is a bit of a disappointment, but putting that aside it is a nice cigar.

Rating – B

%d bloggers like this: