Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The CAO Italia Novella

Fatal Halo Rating

Price: $6.00
4.5” x 46 ring gauge (Novella)
Italian, Nicaraguan & Peruvian Filler
Honduran Habano Seed Binder & Wrapper

My interest in this cigar was brought about mainly by what I had read about its construction.  I had never smoked a cigar with Italian tobacco and so I was curious how the taste would be different from others I had sampled.  I was also impressed by the blends of Nicaraguan & Peruvian tobaccos with the Italian brought together inside a Honduran Habano seed wrapper.  The complexity of flavors and aromas was almost too enticing to pass up.

After doing some additional research, I discovered that the Italian tobacco was grown in the southern Benevento region between Rome & Naples – and the seeds they originated from were brought over from Cuba over 40 years ago.  Sounds like the beginning of a good love story, doesn’t it?

Pre-Smoke Analysis

The construction of this cigar was pretty impressive.  A nice, symmetrical-cut cap, a definite rigidity in its feel and a solid toughness but silky feel to its wrapper.  Rolling it gently between my fingers, I did not detect any noticeable soft spots, so I knew right away that it would have a pretty even burn.  It had an earthy aroma with just a subtle hint of spice.  A very aromatic cigar, but no specific descriptive terms immediately lept to mind.  I resigned myself to the realization it would have to be deconstructed as it burned!

The First Third

The first few draws on this cigar were not immediately noteable.  It was definitely full of flavor – but I still could not pinpoint anything specific due to its incredible complexity.  It was enjoyable nonetheless and I spent the first third of this cigar really drifting off on its unique taste and savoring its delicate nuances.  The burn was even and its solid white ash held form very well.

The Second Third

By this point, I was really starting to pick up on the spiciness and a definite taste of leather.  Medium in body, it was not at all overpowering and I found myself taking quicker and longer draws on it so that it would play longer on my palate.  It began to sweeten a little as it burned hotter and though I’ve heard in other reviews that smokers often taste coffee and chocolate, I wasn’t really picking up on any of that just yet.

Burning Out

The last little bit of this cigar was by far the most enjoyable.  The earthy flavors I mentioned before suddenly became more pronounced and the cigar took on a more herbal flavor.  I was now picking up on some of the chocolate aromas and something very fragrant – almost like incense.  Though hotter on the draw, it remained consistently medium-bodied with no real over-powering changes.  It’s complexity was unfailing right down to the nub and I found myself wanting more simply because of how intriguing it was!

Final Thoughts

Though unremarkable at first draw, the Italia pleasantly surprised me with its complex range of flavors and aromas that really blossomed as it burned.  I found myself inhaling the smoke through my nose to take in more of the fragrance – and that, in my opinion, is truly the most accurate way to describe it.  It is a “fragrant” cigar – both in scent and in taste.  I think the best way for me to rate a cigar is by whether or not it is one I would see myself smoking again.  I most certainly plan to smoke more of these in the future and would recommend an Italia to anyone who appreciates a finely-blended cigar.  Though I had a beverage within arm’s reach, I never took a sip because I didn’t dare want to wash any of the flavor away.  Already a big fan of the CAO Brazilia, I’ve added a new favorite to my humidor with the Italia.  If you have the opportunity, treat yourself to this wonderful edition of the CAO line.  Bravo!

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