When I think of Summer, a handful of things come to mind: wearing shirts with no sleeves, cooking delicious animals on the grill, drinking ice cold (hop-kissed) beer, swimming in varying bodies of water and smoking cigars socially without feeling my body succumb to the grips of frostbite.
Its a beautiful thing. So beautiful that I actually had to step away from writing this to try and calm down and stop the tears from flowing.
Now that I’ve composed myself, I would have to imagine that you enjoy these same pleasantries I speak of. After all, you are perusing this site aren’t you? Shit, we are practically cut from the same cloth! That’s why I am confident in recommending to you a bold summer smoke, the CAO La Traviata Maduro (I’ll refer to as LTM from here on out.)
When I first started smoking cigars, CAO‘s were my “go-to” brand (the Brazillia was my favorite.) I found myself enjoying each and every stick they offered. As time went on though, I began to stray from them. Not because their quality faltered or their brand switched hands, it’s that I yearned for more.
Much like the way my palette for beer evolved, my taste for cigars demanded something more, and CAO just was no longer doing it for me. Don’t get me wrong, they offer some great smokes, I just felt that they were “staying in the past” while many other companies were advancing, transforming and progressing.
Fast forward some time later and a friend of mine offered me a CAO La Traviata Natural. It was terrific; a great all around smoke. I was pleasantly surprised that it was a CAO product and began to get excited to see what they might have in store next. Well, it didn’t take long for them to take an already delicious cigar in the Natural, ditch the Ecuadorian Havana and wrap the sumbitch in a mega-dark Connecticut leaf. Thus birthing the La Traviata Maduro.
Before getting into the review, I just wanted to get something out of the way. When it comes to a cigar looks can be deceiving. A common misconception among people just getting into cigars is that the darker the cigar, the stronger the cigar. That’s a dated misnomer and not the case at all.
A dark cigar just means that the leaf has been fermented longer and allowed to darken. This usually leads to a smoother, and even sweeter cigar. Its the filler and ligero within that gives it its strength. I wanted to lay that out on the table because I feel that many people just getting into cigars get scared off when they see a rich, onyx saturated stogie, causing them to miss out on some truly enjoyable cigars. So heed my word and take a leap of faith, n00bs.
Now, that being said, the LTM, as I stated before, is dark…almost like a bar of dark chocolate. This was fitting because my pre-light sniff and draw gave way to a few nuances – one being cocoa. The cigar itself also had a bit of heft to it. I could tell that this thing was densely packed, so much in fact that I don’t know how it wasn’t busting at the seams.
It lit up effortlessly though and gave way to billows of thick, white smoke. The first thing I noticed was that It didn’t really have a solid flavor that I could pick out. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, because it really was – I just couldn’t pinpoint what I was tasting.
It was definitely bold and peppery; however, not enough for me to say that it was full bodied…more of a medium/full. The draw was tight due to all the tobacco jammed inside but it wasn’t bothersome. After about 5 minutes, the cigar began to get a bit more spicy and gave way to an “earthy” and “woody” flavor. I began to realize that this would have been better suited as a “relaxation cigar” rather than puffing while I ran around my yard playing BearPong. But hey, I’m already invested at this point, and having fun while doing so. So, what the hell! Am, I right?! Let’s do this!
After getting though the first third and delving into the middle of the cigar, it mellowed out a bit
As the cigar got towards the end the spice kicked up a notch. Almost left a lingering tingle of heat on my tongue. What really had me surprised was how smooth it remained. That was the constant, even through all the varying flavors.
Sure the spice was present over in the cigars entirety, but intensity jumped around a bit. I would still say it was fairly robust but certainly not as “in your face”. The sweetness came through even more and hints of coffee started to show up.
I had hoped that the cigar would open up a bit more at this point so that I wouldn’t have to put as much effort into the draw, but it stayed tight. Not too big of a deal where I felt like I was trying to suck a thick milkshake up through a stirring straw. The issue that I had at this point was that the burn of the cigar became pretty uneven. I hate having to use a lighter to correct burn issues, so I held out to see if the cigar would correct itself. Unfortunately, in this case, it did not. I have found that when you are forced into having to relight a cigar, it can ruin the experience due to annoyance, but it also seems to negatively effect the flavors. Luckily, that didn’t occur with my LTM and the cigar jumped right back into that sweet and spicy happy place that I was previously in.
The thick smoke present in the beginning diminished and began to resemble the same consistency as smoke coming off a grill. The flavors undeniably lingered long after the cigar had been done, and it was gratifying. If I hadn’t been dumping delicious beer down my gullet like a mad man, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of that spice from the LTM would still be dry humping my taste buds two days later. Yeah, you can’t un-read that. Enjoy the mental pictures!
In closing, the CAO LTM is a great cigar for a summer evening at a barbecue. You don’t need to have a belly full of food to enjoy this (unless you want to, of course) but I would recommend having it after you eat, due to all the intense flavors could interfere with the enjoyment of roasted suckling pig you are about to gnaw on.
It’s a unique, spicy stick that is tame enough for medium-bodied fans but not pussy-footed enough for lovers of full-bodied powerhouses. If you aren’t an admirer of the spice, I recommend giving the La Traviata Natural a whirl. Both are fantastic smokes and you should definitely keep an eye out the next time you are thumbing your way through Ye Ole’ Tobaccy Shoppe.