CAO Sopranos | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina
Binder: Honduran
Filler: Nicaraguan, Colombian, Dominican
Size: 6 x 54 “Soldier-Toro”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $12.50
Number of Cigars Smoked Prior to Review: 0
Accompanying Libation: Prune Juice and Vodka

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cao-sopranos-sampler-4ct

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1

Today we take a look at the archaic CAO Sopranos.

BACKGROUND:
Not a big CAO fan. In the early 2000’s, they were hip and happening. And then they sunk into mediocrity. As of late, they have become very gimmicky. I do believe the Sopranos line was the first in line of gimmicks. Correct me if I am wrong.
I am not sure I’ve even smoked one. If it were not for Joe Talotta, I wouldn’t have this stick.

I checked and there are plenty of sites that still sell them. I saw that R. Lee Ermey’s Cigar Shop sells the four pack sampler for a very decent price of $36.25. They also sell the three sizes. At a much reduced price while other online stores that still carry leftovers are going for the jugular.

From the CAO web site:
“Named one of Cigar Aficionado’s Top 25 in 2005, CAO Soprano has a dark, oily Brazilian maduro wrapper, a perfect blend of tobaccos from Colombia, Nicaragua and Honduras, and sweet hints of cinnamon and nuts. Sit back, light up and this beauty of a cigar will have you feeling like a kingpin in no time.”

It was in July 2013 that this line of cigars was discontinued.
The cigars were produced at the CAO Fabrica de Tabacos in Honduras.

DESCRIPTION:
I believe my sample has seen better days. A little on the funky side. Sloppy seams. Loads of veins. A reddish brown wrapper. It seems to have lost its luster and is not as oily as it may have once been. Solid as a rock.
The cigar has a few years of humidor time. So it better be good.

AROMA AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
The shaft smells like smoked brisket. As well as some cocoa, sweetness, spice, and floral notes.
The foot is full of barnyard.
The cold draw is mostly black licorice, sweetness, and leather.

SIZES AND PRICING:
The following cut rate prices are courtesy of R. Lee Ermey’s Cigar Shop:
Associate – 5 x 52 $7.35
Boss – 7 x 56 (Belicoso) $10.11
Soldier – 6 x 54 $8.80

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is a little tight. But the body is so hard, I fear I might cause cracks if I use my cigar awl. But being the schmuck I am, I go ahead and do it anyway. I get great resistance and stop a little past the halfway point. It helps tremendously.
First puffs are full of spice, chocolate, coffee, leather, and earthiness.

And then immediately, I get that dreaded “V” burn. I toast my cigars perfectly. Sometimes taking a couple minutes due to size. So it ain’t me babe. Once in a while, it self corrects. But most of the time, it makes a run for its life and canoe; here we come. So I touch it up.
I do remember smoking one or two of these a couple years, or so, ago. They didn’t have the humidor time that this one has. Maybe a few months. That’s all. And I wasn’t impressed.
2

The funny thing is that I don’t think CAO made a cigar as big as the one in Tony Soprano’s mouth during the opening credits of the show. That was huge. Bigger than a Gordo.
I don’t know about you, but I was devastated when Gandolfini died. All due to excess lifestyle. He must have been a stubborn S.O.B. and wouldn’t listen to anyone. I read stories about how he ate. Man oh man. It was like a giant pig sitting down to a king’s trough of food.

Drat. The sun is coming out. Would have helped my first photo a lot. I can only use my lighting setup so much when the cigar bands are very shiny. But now, the photos will show the oiliness that only seems to appear from the rays of the sun.
Cedar shows up but that’s it. Flavors are somewhat muted. I had hoped they would pop.
This was an expensive cigar for 2013. The CAO Sopranos should be exciting ¾” in.
3

I predict that at the halfway point, we will hit the sweet spot. Too little, too late for a cigar with this hype and expense.
Flavors are slowly building: Creaminess, spice, chocolate, toasty, sweetness, leather, cedar, and a touch of caramel.
On paper, the list looks good. But the flavor profile is subtle that I nearly had to pull those flavors from my ass.
The cable channel radio station is playing “A Boy Named Sue.” I miss Johnny Cash.
Never came close to meeting him.

Ooh…ooh..At the 1” point, flavors flare. A change may be occurring. With the sun out, you can see that the cigar no longer looks like the PR photos. It is wrinkly. Time, I guess.

Herbal notes come to play. The CAO Sopranos is definitely blossoming. I betcha that this is the only review to correctly report the real flavors of the blender’s intent due to aging. Everyone else waited a month or two in a big rush to review. And of course missed out on all the subtleties.
Joe T. did me such a big solid by gifting me some really nice aged cigars.
The char line has self-corrected and doing just fine since that first touch up.
Here they are: Creaminess, spice, herbal notes, cedar, chocolate, sweetness, caramel, leather, salty pretzel, and black licorice.

Now I must eat my words. Bitter taste. The CAO Sopranos is an excellent blend. I am now very impressed. I hope R. Lee Ermey’s cigar stock stays potent when my social security arrives. A 4 pack sounds really good right now.

The CAO Sopranos has the signs of real trade craft. The reason I fell out of love with CAO is the reason this one tastes so good. Most CAO products need a year or two of humi time. That’s cool if you are like Joe who stored his cigars when he was making the big bucks and others like him who can do this. I once did.
But when budgets and wives are real issues, my choice of cigars bring me to the blends that are ready to smoke in three weeks. That makes CAO go away.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time has been 45 minutes for just the first third.
Sunlight makes the cigar look prettier than earlier. It allows me to see the mottled colorations.
Nuttiness is added to the mix. Some almond marzipan is nice.
4third
I read a couple reviews of guys in a big rush to be the first on their block with a review. They all report bitterness. So typical of a CAO that isn’t ready to smoke. Too green.
You can throw those reviews away and stick with your Uncle Katman thanks to the beneficent Joseph Talotta. Go ahead, look it up. I’ll wait.

The CAO Sopranos is totally on point now.
Strength started out at classic medium body. Didn’t take long before it became medium/full. Pretty sure by the last third, it will have attained full body status.
5

I taste cumin and cardamom. Curry spices. Char line is dead nuts.
The creaminess, chocolate, and black pepper make a huge leap. Very nice.

But still not a magnificent blend. It is a journeyman’s effort but I just don’t think the blend was what it should have been. I think they cut corners in a rush to get the newly licensed “Sopranos” trademark to market. And let the gimmick do the rest of the work.
So while I don’t report the too green factors that most other reviewers did, this is still not the cigar I expected with this much humidor time.
Just before the halfway point, the CAO Sopranos reaches full body and brings with it nicotine.
It’s now a very strong cigar!

HALFWAY POINT:
I got a couple of nice surprises in the mail yesterday. After years of trying, I made it on to the La Flor Dominicana reviewer’s list. This will be my third set of samples. It is the new LFD TAA 47. Can’t wait to smoke one. But not all the dissimilar to CAO, LFD’s take a lot of humi time.
6half

The second surprise was from Ventura Cigar Co. I got two coffins of PSyKo Seven Maduros. Brand new and not released yet. I think. Each coffin has two cigars inside. Plus they threw in some great swag. Including a very cool ball cap not shown in the photos below. And the lighter is top notch. Even has a fold down double punch.
The PSyKo Sevens will only need a few weeks.

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Well, my prediction was incorrect. The halfway point doesn’t meet sweet spot criteria.

BTW- The gun in my photos is my 1997 Glock 30. A .45 caliber sub compact with an extended magazine that holds 13 + 1.
If you are a gun owner like me, then you have the same disease. Did you buy every holster known to man for your guns? I did. You just can’t have enough holsters. But I’ve never owned a shoulder holster. Too bulky. I have a CCW license here in Wisconsin and the license is good in 27 other states. So I stick with the IWB holsters and pancake holsters. And one Yaqui.
A tip for those that have the money…Milt Sparks. This outfit in Idaho makes custom made holsters that are just too fucking gorgeous. Not cheap. And they don’t make your holster until you order it. Takes two months to get it after you’ve paid for it. I have an IWB holster (Summer Special 1 in black leather. Since replaced by the Summer Special 2 shown below) that I bought a couple years ($110.00) after I bought the gun in 1997 while living in Mesa, Arizona. And it is solid as they come. Never wears out. I also bought one of their gun belts. Just a standard belt (1-1/2” $101.00) but thick for holding (Double thickness cowhide) your holster. I wear it every day. This belt will last longer than me.

7

Back to the CAO Sopranos.
I generally vary a lot from the review when the cigar is less than impressive. Which this cigar is.
Flavors have flattened out. Maybe half of my earlier list still remains.
So. After a couple+ years of humidor time, the Sopranos is only a so so cigar blend.
The true definition of a gimmicky cigar hoping to sell in volume because of the kitsch.
8

I’m sure demand waned considerably after a year and that’s why the cigar is no longer in production. Word of mouth can be a terrible thing for a cigar maker.
The construction has been very good though. No touch ups required. No wrapper issues.
I am nearing the last third. My expectations have been dashed on the rocks.
Here is what is left: Spice, creaminess, sweetness, chocolate, and leather.
Even the tobacco flavor isn’t that hot.

LAST THIRD:
Well, dear readers, this is the last chance the CAO Sopranos has to impress me.
There is no redemption. The cigar has no character. It is a fancy yard ‘gar.
The CAO Sopranos is a dud. But I keep smoking hoping that even in the last inch something might happen.
But it doesn’t.
Pure gimmick.
9third

PRICE POINT:
$12.50? You gotta be kidding me. Not only is the CAO Sopranos not worth it, I wouldn’t pay $5 for it. In fact, after knowing what I know now, there is no way I would buy another.
Even the reduced price of $8.80 at the R. Lee Ermey’s Cigar Shop doesn’t entice me.

SUMMATION:
A complete disappointment. The cigar occasionally teased me thinking it was going to make a surge in the flavor department. But it never did.
I’m surprised the cigar lasted on market as long as it did.
The funny thing is that the cigar box was a big hit. It looks like the trunk of an old car with bullet holes in it.
You can still find just the box on Ebay. Some go for as little as $25 and others in the $60 range. There was also a Sopranos humidor and there is one on Ebay going for $300.

Strangely, CAO put out a limited edition of 5 cigars in shapes of a baseball bat, a bullet, and liquor bottles.
This was a bold move by CAO. If they had only spent the time to produce a fine cigar, they could have pulled it off. I’m sure there was a lot of back slapping in the front office when they got the Sopranos team to OK the cigar.
I’d be pissed off if I was part of the Sopranos team. All glitz and no soul.
sopranosspecialedition

10

And now for something completely different:
(Another repeat first posted in July 2014)

It was German Fest in Milwaukee. Staged at the Henry Maier Festival Park. Basically, it’s a beat up old carnival grounds for people to sell crazy types of food with a couple of huge concert stages.
There was no fried butter that night. It was all German food.

But I must digress. I don’t normally go to all of these festival things that Milwaukee puts on in the summer. Too much walking and my back just can’t take it. The place is always jam packed with people and it is almost impossible to find a place to sit. And no shade.

So, Charlotte goes on her own with friends. And I stay at home and smoke my brains out with the A/C on high.
This time, she suggested we get a wheel chair. My ego can’t take that. I refused. Not to mention I would be sitting in some dirty bacterial covered plastic and metal rolling chair. I saw the old, fat, disgusting people using the free wheel chairs and they all looked like they had forgotten what the two words, “personal hygiene,” meant.

She talked me into going with the caveat that if I can’t take it anymore, after a couple of hours, I would take the car and go home and she’d get a lift.
This place must be one of the few places left, outside of Texas, that doesn’t check you with a security wand as you enter. A voice on a loud speaker tells you what you can’t bring in and is on a continuous loop. Of course, guns are not allowed.
They just don’t enforce it.

So I went packing my Glock sub compact Model 30 .45 caliber with Federal hollow points. And an extended magazine that allows me 13 rounds + 1 in the chamber.

We get down there and park very close as I use my best whiny Jewish voice to beg for a decent parking place because I’m handicapped. Wham bam, thank you ma’am…it worked.
We paid our $7 entrance fee at the booth. A senior discount below the normal $10. My wife told me to get my I.D. out because the sign said you have to prove it. The woman behind the counter said we didn’t need our I.D.’s. Charlotte looked at me and I thought she was going to cry.

My new hipster haircut became a lopsided afro within 10 minutes because the park is right on Lake Michigan and the heat and humidity were high. I had a couple young guys run over to me and, without asking, took selfies of them and me together. Yeah, I looked cool…yeah, that’s what I told myself.
There is also no smoking rule there. So I lit up a cigar immediately.
I had taken some pain meds before going. You just can’t be too careful.

Strangely, instead of getting all those snooty California-type looks of disapproval that one gets when smoking a cigar in public brings, I had women come up to me and tell me how their grandpa smoked cigars and how much they loved the smell.
I saw one young man, barely 40, with a stogie in his mouth and I yelled at him to take that fucking cigar out of his mouth. Who did he think he was? The guy turned on me, not realizing that I, too, had a cigar in my mouth…and I thought this well-built man was going to turn me into a potato pancake. And then he saw my cigar and laughed.

There were a few little kiosks that sold cigarettes and cigars. Of course, the cigars were drek and overpriced. And they all had lots of ACID cigars. I laughed as I passed by and watched as non-cigar smokers perused the display.
The food at German Fest differs from your standard carnival summer festival type party. It was all incredible smelling German food. You name it, they had it.

I saw a man with large potato pancakes, or latkes, and I stopped him. I asked if there was any sugar in them. He took his first bite and said he didn’t think so and broke off a piece and gave it to me. I was in heaven. Delicious. And no sugar. The real thing. So I began my latke vision quest.
It was really warm and humid and I was schvitzing like a ….well, you know.

We had double bandaged my newly acquired open wound on my upper thigh. It was still draining. But within an hour it began to hurt. My chubby little thighs, all sweaty and rubbing up against each other, made me walk like a penguin.
The wound was really a huge boil. I got a staph infection from using the YMCA to work out. Charlotte got staph too. So after two weeks of membership, we bailed.

Now the worst part. They had two huge stages with Mega Death type P.A. systems. Out of those speaker systems came live Oom Pah Pah bands. I’m not kidding when I say the decibel level was like a plane taking off but instead of palatable music, it was polka music. I wanted to take my Glock out and kill 14 people. And then beat myself to death with the butt of the gun.
That damn polka music was everywhere. Big stages, little stages, in the sitting tents, and strollers. It was a Jewish nightmare. I felt like I was at a Nazi Bundestag rally.

To sum up the whole ordeal, there were all the plain country Wisconsin folk wearing their best German get ups. I started to get the cold sweats. I was back in Germany and any moment I’d be yelled at, by security, why I’m not wearing a gold star on my sleeve?
All of Charlotte’s friends asked why I never showed up to these fun events. She made her polite excuses but they just thought I was an arrogant prick.
All of her friends had planned to be there.
Not one showed up.

Oh wait, there was one customer from the Polish deli that showed up and she was old and frail and couldn’t speak above the din of the crowd so I never had any idea what she was saying.
Charlotte was having a good time. She lit up a bowl before we left and rambled at 90mph the entire way to the park. My darling wife of 64 loves her weed.

And then she wanted to sit down in front of the Harley Davidson stage where a polka band was singing in German and getting the patrons to sing along, “Deutschland Uber Alles…” Not really. But to me, that’s what it sounded like.
There wasn’t a seat anywhere that was available and there were hundreds and hundreds of them.

A conga line began. Don’t ask. I took off for an area outside the parameters of the concert and fumed. My back was killing me. My open wound hurt. And I was fucking miserable. It had been a little over two hours since we got there and I decided to go home by myself.
The conga line, with hundreds of people, kept me from finding Charlotte. I just gave up.

She had her house key and had assured me someone would give her a lift home if I wanted to leave. Not only did I want to leave, I wanted to shoot every young man with a clean shaven head and German tattoos on his bare chest and back. No swastikas, but lots of other unsightly shit.
It took me 20 minutes of pain to get back to the car.

A massive amount of construction was going on around the freeway, and on the freeway, near the lake. My GPS was worthless and what should have taken me 3 minutes to get on the freeway, took me 20. All of the detour signs turned out to be wrong.
I was in a stunned state of mind. What had I done? Why would I put myself in the midst of the enemy?

Even if I had gone with the wheel chair, I would have not be seen by the crowd, and trampled to death as people made their ways to the box cars…er…I mean the different events.
The ride home was less than 20 minutes and I put some real music on in the car.

I will never, NEVER, NEVER…go to one of those things again. Fuck the back pain. It was like 1936 in Berlin.
I went to bed around 11 but was awakened by Charlotte when she got home around 12:30.
She is still asleep as I type this so I have no idea the mood she is going to be in for abandoning her last night.
And I’m certainly not going to mention that I wrote this little account of the Bundestag meeting last night.
Photo of some nice Hitler Jungen:
kids

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