CAO OSA Sol
Today we have one of the new cigars that came out of IPCPR this year. In this case it is the new release from CAO, which was recently acquired by General Cigar just a few months ago. There seems to be a lot of buzz around this cigar, specifically because everyone is curious to see if CAO will still produce top quality and unique cigars.
The wrapper on this cigar seems is very pretty, it’s got a very fresh and organic feel to it. At the same time it’s also pretty cryptic. On the front form top to bottom, you see “CAO”, “OSA” and “SOL” while on each side there are the words “San Agustin” and “Olancho”. Also in the white section it appears to be a map type of image with some names and rivers or roads on it. To help break the encryption for everyone, the “OSA” is simply the first initials of the regions where the tobaccos for this cigar were harvested. In this case it’s from ‘O’lancho, and ‘S’an ‘A’gustin.
I’m not sure exactly what the map is supposed to mean, possibly just tying into how the name is connected to it’s area of origin. The “Sol” in the name simply translates to “Sun” from Spanish. Likely signifying the Sungrown wrapper that surrounds the cigar. It’s also interesting to see that General Cigar kept the trend of naming the cigar after the location of it’s wrapper like CAO did. Although CAO usually named it after the wrappers after their country rather than region, such as the “Italia” or “Brazilia”
The blender for this new cigar is Rick Rodriguez of General Cigar. According to General/CAO, the leaves were chosen from the above mentioned regions in Honduras because of their unique weather conditions that result in some extra natural oils. I can’t say I noticed any excess of oils but it had a nice sheen to it. I will also say that General has some big shoes to fill after the massive success of CAO’s La Traviata and La Traviata Maduro.
I have to admit I’m coming into this cigar review with mixed feelings. I’ve enjoyed many of CAO’s offerings but now that they’ve been acquired by General Cigar I have some concerns since I’ve not had a good track record with General’s offerings. Maybe I just haven’t found the line they make that appeals to me. So here I guess we will find if the acquisition worked out in favor of the CAO line or not…
A quick disclaimer, this cigar was sent as a sample from General Cigar but I can assure you my review and opinions are my own and are completely honest. Now with that out of the way, let’s get to the “Good Stuff” as Tony would say!
Cigar: CAO OSA SOL
Drink: Innia & Gunn Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer
Vitola: ”Lot 50” Robusto (5 x 50)
Wrapper: Honduran Sungrown
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Price: About $5.50 – $6
Burn Time: A little over an hour
• The CAO OSA has a very velvety smooth wrapper that has a warm cinnamon color to it
• There are some visible veins along the wrapper but they are not bumpy at all
• The head of the cigar is finished with a very clean double cap
• The foot of the cigar seems a bit messy, it looks well packed but some of the leaves seem sort of folded in and not really cleanly cut
• From the cap to the foot, the entire cigar is very firm with very little give when squeezed, let’s hope that doesn’t translate to a tight draw…
• The cut was very easy and clean and left me with a slightly tight draw. It’s not overly difficult to draw so I’ll stick with it for now
• Toasting was a little bit tedious and there were some dark spots near the center that would just not glow properly, but after a few puffs I think I’m well on my way
• The cigar has a slight wave to it within the first inch, we’ll see if the burn corrects itself or gets worse…
• The wave is slowly getting worse as the cigar progresses, I’ve made it to the half way mark without correction but it may need a touch up soon
• As predicted, I needed a hefty touch up shortly after the halfway point and it continue to go downhill after that…
Smoke & Ash:
• The first few draws were a little weak in the smoke department but it got going to a moderate amount per draw shortly after
• There is initially a lot of resting smoke after putting the cigar down but within a couple seconds it’s pretty much no resting smoke at all
• The ash on this cigar is looking to be very clean and strong with a medium gray and black color to it
• Ash held on nicely for about an inch before falling into the ashtray, still remaining tightly bound
• The aroma on the wrapper of the CAO OSA has an interesting tart sweetness to it and a bit of a mild tobacco touch
• The foot keeps the slight tartness to it and adds a bit of spice and a dry foliage type of aroma
• The tartness makes another appearance in the pre-light draw, along with more of the dry foliage earthiness
• Within the first few puffs I get a very interesting spicy bite, it’s not quite pepper, maybe something like a chili flake. Mix that in with the sweetness that’s still around and this is making for a very tasty start!
• Sweet Chili Doritos come to mind as I continue smoking this… wow! Maybe even with a little dirt thrown in the bag for the earthy flavors! lol
• The chili flavors have settled down a bit and translated to a mild white pepper, the earthiness has taken it’s place mixed with some cedar. Seems the sweetness is mostly gone now
• The retrohale up to now has been pretty uneventful with almost no bite and a bland finish
• Body for the most part has been in the low end of medium for the first half
• The flavors have settled into a mostly plain cedar and earthy mix and the finish has gotten slightly dry, a HUGE change from my initial impression
• Sadly, the blandness continues as I smoke the cigar, the flavors are turning into an almost charred wood type of flavor
• After my touch up past the halfway point the flavors took another downward turn and really turned more into the charred zone. I’m hoping it picks up…
• After another touch-up I couldn’t smoke this one anymore. I was trying to take one for the team here and hoping for the best but it’s just not happening, setting it down early…
I REALLY had some hope for this cigar after seeing it’s construction, aroma and interesting initial flavors. That wicked sweet chili start really got my attention but it sadly tapered off quickly after that. The sweetness and chili got replaced by some plain cedar and earthy flavors that did not compare at all, it was if I started smoking a whole different cigar. I have to say I can’t remember the last time I had such a huge difference of opinion from start to finish on the same cigar. If the initial flavors on this cigar continued, I would have given this a glowing review for it’s uniqueness and delicious profile, but sadly that didn’t happen. The price point on these is accessible but it doesn’t come close to comparing to CAO’s old flagship La Traviata which was at the same price or even cheaper.
Innis & Gunn, what can I say? It’s still one of my favorite breweries. I enjoy everything I’ve had from them and I continue to seek them out every time I go to the store. Today’s choice was their Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer which is a fantastic brew. It’s got some very tasty fruity sweetness and malty flavors mixed in with their trademark wonderful oaky notes. You can even catch some spicy flavors in there if you really pay attention. It’s got a fairly dark and full body on it so it can stand up to many fuller cigars including the CAO OSA. It made for a good pairing and added some interesting flavors to what ended up being a straightforward cigar. Other good pairings with this cigar would probably be some flavorful or full bodied beers or wines to keep your palate interested. Possiby a nice stout, Port or a strong cup of coffee to overpower the cigar… lol