CAO Italia | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Honduran Habano
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Italian Habano Cuban Seed, Nicaraguan, Peruvian
Size: 5 x 56 “Ciao”
Body: Full
Price: $6.00


But this was a gift from Andy S. and it has rested and I thought I would add it to my catalog of reviews on this blog.
First, it received a nice 91 rating from Cigar Aficionado.

From the CAO web site:
“Travel to the south of Italy, to the Benevento region between Rome and Naples, and you’ll find a new world flavor flourishing in the old world. CAO Italia’s Habano seed was brought to Italy from Cuba nearly fifty years ago. It gives a unique and earthy sweetness to this full-bodied cigar, a smoke that proves Italy can do more than produce some of the world’s finest wines and cuisine−it can produce some of its greatest cigars as well.”

I found this on the Atlantic Cigar web site:
“Historically, there have been two types of tobacco seeds that thrive in Italy,” said CAO Vice President, Tim Ozgener. “The Geudertheimer seed is grown and used primarily for machine made cigars. The seed grown for CAO Italia, however, is an Italian Habano seed originally brought to Italy from Cuba some forty-plus years ago. This seed is grown in the Benevento region of the southern portion of Italy, located between Rome and Naples. We’ve experimented a great deal with Italian tobacco and we believe it lends a very unique earthy-sweetness to the blend, one that rounds out the robust, full-bodied flavor profile that is CAO Italia.”

Italian long filler leaves are a rarity. Which makes this a bold move for CAO. And a successful one as this cigar has been around for years. As I looked around on some of the online stores, none of them have the right leaf stats. Go figure. I went directly to the CAO web site to get my info. Why didn’t they? Lazy.

Construction is absolutely rustic; especially in the light. A dark chocolate wrapper. Tight seams. A lot of veins. Oily, and sandy to the touch. The single cap is well done.

I clip the cap and find aromas of dark chocolate, sweetness, fruit, earth, cedar, leather, and wood.
Time to light up.

The first puffs are chocolaty. Along with some sweet cherry. Pepper arouses the palate. The draw is good and smoke fills the room. The cedar is very strong. And the flavor of earthiness is bold.

The red pepper keeps getting stronger and stronger. The strength is already a bit above medium body.

At the 1” mark, the flavor profile is about sweetness, black cherry, cocoa and spice.

The char line is behaving nicely.

The second third begins and it is all about flavor. It is now an official flavor bomb.

I don’t usually purchase CAO cigars because they are Old School blenders. Their sticks normally take months before they have enough humidor time to smoke. And since I am on a budget, I buy cigars that I know will only need a few weeks of humidor time.
I hit the halfway point and the flavors are blazing: Earthiness, black cherry, cocoa, sweetness, coffee, oak, cedar, and leather.

I need to fix the char line for the first time.

The last third begins without any change. Flavors are intense. But the cigar never reaches any sort of complexity. The cocoa and earthiness are neck and neck in first place.

The strength has hit full bodied.

The price point is good. It is a very pleasant smoke. The char line only required one touch up. And the draw has been spot on throughout.

The cocoa becomes a little bitter. Like baking chocolate.

The bitterness goes away after a few minutes.

The cigar is really pumping away on all cylinders now. The flavor profile is bold and in the right order. The balance is good. It has a very long finish.

It ends with a small nicotine kick but nothing to make my hands shake while I type. This is a great rotation stick. It is the perfect partner for the CAO Brazilia.

And now for something completely different:


I must first state that my daughter is very sensitive about this episode in her life. She was 11. I will not post this on Face Book. It will remain here.
I will give her a different name as it will eventually show up on Google.

It was February. The same week as our wedding anniversary and my birthday. My wife had a hysterectomy that week and thanks to crappy health insurance was only allowed one night in the hospital. We were to take hourly walks between her release on a Wednesday and the removal, by me, of her catheter on Friday.

We lived in a very nice apartment complex in Mesa, Arizona. We were in the back adjacent to a nice playground for the kids.

Next to the complex was the typical unprotected concrete wash. Adults and kids regularly drown in these deep washes and yet Arizona sees no need to protect them with fences. During winter, it was full of rushing water. People drowned like clockwork.

It was midday and I was walking my wife around the complex. We hadn’t seen Tracy for over 30 minutes. We made her check in every half hour. She had lots of friends to play with and we considered it safe. But this day, she had not checked in.. so, as we walked, we asked her little friends if they had seen her? None had.

My wife shrieked out in panic and screamed at me to go find her..some motherly instinct kicked in and told her something was very wrong…. we walked quickly back to the apartment and I went off searching for our kid.

After scouring the complex, I walked along the barren area between the buildings parallel to the concrete wash. We were a good half mile away from a major street that the complex was on. I thought that she would never go this far without our permission.

I had decided to turn back… but a gut feeling told me to keep walking. As I neared the end of the walk, there was a house with an abandoned guest house in the back. The main house was empty and there was gang graffiti all over the guest house. All of the windows in the guest house were broken. And then I saw her little pink two wheeler bicycle.

I began screaming out her name as I moved directly perpendicular to the guest house. There was a 42” chain link guard rail between me and the house. I was just bout to jump the fence, when a boy came out…a teenager. He looked at me and went back inside.

A moment later, Tracy came running out, screaming that she had been molested. I yelled for her to run to the open gate. She came to me in hysterics. Three teen boys came out.

I screamed at them, “What did you do? WHAT DID YOU DO?”

They smiled and said they had done nothing. I bent to one knee to purvey my daughter’s condition. Her clothing was torn. She had a facial expression I hope I never see on anyone I love. I told her to get on her bike and ride home as fast as she could and have mom call the police.

The older teen came out, laughing, saying they were only fooling around. I grabbed him by the collar and dragged him almost half a mile back to our apartment. I screamed at him at the top of my lungs with every curse word I could think of. The kid was as big as me but I had Herculean adrenaline strength.

At this point, I considered killing him and throwing him into the rushing water a few feet away. But common sense showed up. If I hurt this pariah, it would be about me and not him. My daughter would lose a father. And the world would lose flea feces….the boy.

As I got to my front door, I still had a death grip on his collar and then the police drove up in 3 cars.
They arrested all three boys and my daughter was taken to the hospital.

I learned the next day that this boy had molested my daughter and was only moments away from raping her. After my arrival, he went back inside and threatened her that if she ever said anything, he would kill her. The prison psychiatrist wrote us and told us that he was a sexual predator and would have killed her. So my wife’s shriek and my gut instinct saved her life.

The kid was Mexican and his family lived in the same nice complex under Section 8 rules. When management found out, they were given 3 days to get out. The boy’s family was serious gang bangers and did not like what I had done to them.

My car was repeatedly painted with warnings. They were arrested over and over.

And then the cops told me a contract was put on my head.

I bought two guns. I took classes on how to shoot and about safety. Both my wife and daughter took the classes and I bought them guns. I taught Tracy to shoot and she became a markswoman at the age of 11. Prior to getting my concealed carry permit, I carried openly. This is legal in Arizona.

I found a mentor who gave me a crash course in shooting. He was very wealthy. He mentored Tracy as well. He was a member of the JDL (Jewish Defense League-a radical group that believes violence is a part of the defense of Jew’s rights.) He offered me an opportunity to arrange for some Black Ops JDL members to take care of the people who were harassing me. I declined while laughing. I asked him, “Who do you think the cops are going to question first if this family begins to disappear? ME!”

We had to get out of there. So I found a gig with a company in Northern California and we moved without a forwarding address.

At the time, Arizona had a law that if a man was deemed an active sexual predator without any sort of redemption or acceptance of his deeds, his release date meant nothing and he could be remanded until deemed safe. That boy spent years in prison. We told the authorities that we would not be reachable. They understood.

It took two years before I stopped my spontaneous crying. I played that scenario over and over again as I lay in bed every night. Would I have done the world a service by ending him? What I would give for two minutes alone with him in a dark alley…

Surprisingly, our kid bounced back admirably. A very strong kid. Strong will. My wife and I were shocked at her strength.

Shortly after that, she became a police junior cadet. And decided at that young age, she wanted to be a police officer. She started that journey be becoming an EMT. She is currently and anxiously waiting to take the Milwaukee police officer test this year. Because she is female and an EMT, she has a leg up. Her last two boyfriends are cops. And she knows them all in that city’s department. That can’t hurt.

Subsequent to this, I developed a love of target shooting for the discipline and relaxation it brings. I entered shooting matches. But I have never hunted. No stomach for it.

Tracy lived with a cop and minutes after he left for his graveyard shift, two guys tried to break into the house. She grabbed his Mossberg shotgun and chased them down the street.

To this day, I keep a gun in every room. You just never know….







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9 replies

  1. I must be the only Guniea/Jew who didn’t much care for that stick? To be fair, the last time I smoked one was prior to the full development of my palette. Perhaps it may be time to try again?

    As a father of a young girl, your Arizona story really hit home. I haven’t owned a firearm since leaving the service, mainly because of the gravity of the profession I chose whilst in the military affected my conscience after I got out. (Too complex to discuss here)
    I also promised my wife to never have a gun in the house with young and curious kids running around.
    But with all that said, I want to tell you that you handled that situation with your daughter than I would have. I’m fairly certain that my Guinea side would have overwhelmed my better judgement in that case.
    I’m also glad that you guys were able to overcome such a vile set of circumstances & perceiver to the point where both you and your daughter are safe and happy in the here and now.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, Joe.
    To make sure the guns were off limits, I took the approach to teach her how to shoot at 11 years old. She took classes with me. She helped clean the guns after we went shooting. And before long, the guns held no mystery to her and she showed nothing but nonchalance about them. She understood and never once touched a gun without getting permission.
    When she was 12, I bought her a Browning .380 pistol with a nice tactical holster. She went with me to gun shows wearing her piece. And she was cool as a cucumber about it. So cool, that I noticed little boys her age, and older, pulling on their father’s shirt tails and pointing at my kid and saying, “Hey! How come she can wear a gun and I can’t?” LOL.
    Back then, CCW classes were pretty intense and required 16 hours. She took two of them with me. Different schools, different teachers. She passed the written and practical without any difficulty. Obviously, you must be 21 to get your card but the teachers encouraged youngsters to take classes. And they all loved her.

  3. One last thing. I heard stories from her mother about the kid when she was in jr high and high school. The kid would never tell me this stuff.
    When bullies, male or female, tried to front her, she had the habit of cold cocking them with a right to the jaw and knocking them out in one punch. Got a lot of calls from the schools but other kids backed her up so it never got serious.
    A few years ago, she was bartending while in school. I had a band that played at her club once a month. I saw some huge asshole grab assing with her and she reached over the bar, grabbed him by the hair, and slammed his forehead into the bar. He ended up a limp noodle on the floor.
    The kid is fearless. I hope it steads her well as a cop but also hope she doesn’t get too cocky about this shit. She is a beautiful girl and I think a fresh cop or two is going to find himself on the deck asking what happened?

  4. This is a very good cigar! But like you stated, it needs a lot of time to develop. You need to give them 2 to 3 months before you can enjoy them.

  5. Man you really did a number on me. First, I am so glad things turned out well for your daughter. As a pastor who has had to counsel victims of sexual abuse, I celebrate her resiliency. But PLEASE prepare us for such narratives with more than just “Why I have guns.” I usually relax with a cigar when reading reviews but this twisted my insides. I thought you were gonna just rant about gun control or something 😉 Anyways, blessings toward your daughter’s future success.

  6. Rabbi Yo,
    I always treasure your comments and I apologize for creating a mental breakdown in that huge brain of yours.
    Seriously, thanks for your kind words. It is a wound in my life’s soul that will never heal no matter how well my daughter recovered. I was brought down to the most base needs of hominids for those few moments and I felt the urge to end a life with extreme prejudice; without guilt or worry. Thankfully, in that chaos of thought processes, the common sense portion of my little brain took over and I didn’t become a murderer.

  7. I’ve carried a firearm every day since I turned 21 and I get asked constantly if/when i reveal this to a friend, why I’m so paranoid. Because I’ve read enough stories like this to realize that anything can happen and you can never be too prepared. If I knew I was going to get robbed or harassed on a specific time and date I wouldn’t have to worry about it but we don’t. Even at jobs where carrying a firearm wasn’t permitted I did anyway because no job is worth my life. I hear people talk about how carrying a gun is dangerous and people will just go around shooting one another. Well somehow I, along with thousands of other law-abiding citizens, have managed to keep it in there pants For all those that think carrying a firearm is stupid and you’ll never need it, don’t let an experience like this leave you feeling helpless because that’s the worst feeling in the world to me. To watch as someone makes your life or death decisions and knowing you have no control over it. If I go out, I’ll at least have something to say about it. With that said I’m glad your daughter turned out great and she is committing her life to helping others who cannot protect themselves. Also, I have really been enjoying your cigar reviews and your unabated writing style. Keep up the good work. Sorry about the rant.

  8. I feel the same way. I’d rather have one and not need it then need it and not have one…and worry about the consequences later.
    But I have a CCW here in WI so there is no worry. I carry everywhere. And if I’m on the run, I just put my derringer in my front pocket.
    I paid $80 for it in 1979 and now it’s worth $300. I own very few things that gain in value.

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