CAO Cigars, My favorite shop, Cross Street Tobacco, used to carry the series, but ran out a little while back and I haven't seen them since.
Since then, I discovered the Soprano is wrapped with Brazilian leaf. That fact had me ready to jump on the first Soprano I could find, even at its cost. The cigar has a Honduran binder and is filled with a blend of Dominican, Columbian and Nicaraguan tobacco.
Banded near the cap and around the foot in black and bright red - the cigar has a good look. Classy and strong. They picked a good cigar to align with the Soprano brand.
I got my hands on a Soprano Soilder - basically a Toro, weighing in at 6" x 54 ring. The wrapper leaf is beautifully dark and oily as can be; what a sheen. The wrapper is toothy and has some prominent veins. Judging by the bumpy texture on the wrapper leaf, I'm betting the binder has some thick veins too.
The cigar feels well rolled and evenly packed. The draw is a little resistant and the cigar smells like strong, dark fruit. I know that sounds weird, but I don't know how else to describe it. Either way - its a good thing.
The cigar starts off a little strange. It lights up, pulls through, but there isn't much smoke. I have to kind of toke on it - and at the third or fourth toke I get an adequate draw of smoke. It seems as if the tobacco is having a hard time burning. There is virtually no resting smoke, and the cigar is burning very cool. Early on, the lack of smoke makes it hard to get much taste. I'm not excited about the start of this cigar.
Smoking it and Final Thoughts:
Surprisingly, the first half of this cigar was disappointing. Poor burn qualities. I had to touch it up a bunch and the flavor didn't come consistently enough to give me a sense of what it was about. The ash burned to a nice grayish white, but it didn't hold on too well. The wrapper leaf bubbled and wrinkled around the burn line. Looking at the cigar, I thought - wow this is the first cigar in a while that I've been unhappy with.
So finally something about this cigar is good. Right after the halfway point, the cigar stays lit without effort. Then I actually get some flavor. The profile is rich and thick. I taste a little cocoa, leather and some spice in the background. This continues for about a quarter of the cigar. Then the cigar starts to get a little too spicy. I find myself puffing to keep it burning adequately, and the cigar is getting hot and burning my lips.
I'd like to think that I got a bad one out of the batch. But it wasn't like the cigar was plugged. The burn issues had to do with the tobacco, not the roll. Whether it was the wrapper leaf, binder or filler; something wasn't burning the way it should have.
At $14, I do not like this cigar at all. If it were $5 I'd try it again and hope I got a good one, but even without the burn issues - I could pick up some bad ass cigars for that price tags.
Overall - D (value is taken into consideration heavily)