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Stogie Reviews: CAO La Traviata Divino

17 Aug 2009

Among the dozens of cigars that recently debuted at the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association Trade Show, perhaps none was more welcome than CAO’s La Traviata. Many enthusiasts told us, both in person in New Orleans and via email since the convention, that they couldn’t wait to try this new release.

La Traviata Divino by CAOAnd why shouldn’t they be excited? With its rich and oily Ecuadorian habano wrapper, ultra firm touch, and hearty pre-light notes of leather and molasses, La Traviata makes a great first impression. And the price is even better. CAO is offering this three-vitola blend with a suggested retail of $4.95 to $5.75 per cigar—a welcome price range in today’s turbulent economy.

Adding to La Traviata’s appeal is the fact that it represents a departure for CAO. The Nashville-based manufacturer is best known for its slick marketing and innovative blends. But this new line, which “harkens back to pre-nationalization Havana,” is traditional with a classic charm.

The “La Traviata” brand was initially launched in Cuba over 100 years ago at the Tabacalera Cubana, Agramonte no. 106, in Havana. CAO built this modern-day incarnation to abide “closely to [La Traviata’s] original Cuban roots in presentation and taste.”

Marketed as full-bodied, it includes a Cameroon binder and two different ligero filler tobaccos from the Pueblo Nuevo farm in Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic.

The five inch by 50 ring gauge Divino starts with a profile of mild leather, sweet cedar, and black pepper. With a dense yet reasonable draw, the taste develops after the first inch to include notes of cream and roasted nuts. Here, after the first inch, is where the flavor is most nuanced and satisfying.

The slow-burning Divino is fairly consistent to the nub in both taste and construction, the latter of which is near perfect. In order to counteract this robusto’s infrequent bitterness, a setback that should improve as this young tobacco ages, try pairing it with a sweet rum-based cocktail.

No matter what you drink, though, you’ll likely be impressed by La Traviata—even if it doesn’t remind you of a pre-embargo Cuban. It delivers in taste and performance far above what you’d expect for the price. For that, the Divino earns four stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A & Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

23 Responses to “Stogie Reviews: CAO La Traviata Divino”

  1. furious Monday, August 17, 2009 at 3:43 am #

    Glad to see this one reviewed so quickly. So I gather that the flavor profile is pretty uniform after the first third with no major development except for some bitterness towards the middle and end. Perhaps that could be attributed to its extreme youth. Age should only help this stick. Can't wait to give it a try.

  2. Patrick A Monday, August 17, 2009 at 4:02 am #

    Yep, those were my impressions exactly. The flavor is quite nice today but it should be better tomorrow. I look forward to revisiting this stick in the coming months…and I'll be sure to fill you in on its development–either in a Quick Smoke or in our newsletter.

  3. Marc E. Monday, August 17, 2009 at 7:58 am #

    Man I finally narrowed down my top 15 smokes out of the 40 different brands and lines I've tried over the last 3 years, and now y'all just had to throw another one into my rotation…blast you all 🙂

  4. cigar palace Monday, August 17, 2009 at 10:48 am #

    intresting cigar. I can't wait very long to put my hand on some since i trust u guys.

  5. CWS Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 2:36 am #

    Have these hit the shops yet?

  6. Anthony Ferreira Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 5:19 am #

    Read your review on "La Traviata". Apparently payola is alive and well in the cigar industry. O.K., so you rate CAO's new cigar the same as the OPus X Fuente Fuente. Yeah right! I was once the famous Chinese aviator" One Hung Lo".

    Make no mistake, I have nothing against CAO. Their warehouse is nearby. I find their packaging of one line, in car trunks, amusing if not somewhat stereotypical.

    I smoked a sample of the cigar. it was all hype and no substance. My Uncle described it as softer than my Aunt's jello mold and having more stems than a lid of Mexi at the Woodstock concert.

    I must admit that I should have smoked it before I watched the video of the guy manning the booth at the tobacco show in New Orleans. I'm sure he is an O.K. guy, but I wanted to Fed-Ex him a bottle of shampoo and soap. Must have been a rough week on Bourbon Street.

    Guess your next review will be "HOT NEWS FLASH" recently discovered in Castro's double secret incendiary shelter by his henchmen looking for spare toilet tickets, boxes of Vitolas so rare only the dictator and egomaniacs dared indulge. Found under an invisibility cloak, developed by Stalin's physicists and given to Castro as a gift in 1949, we proudly announce the soon to be released limited edition "LOS HECES EN LA MANTA", available at your local retailer in early, middle or late November for 20-30 clams a cheroot. No dinero accepted — CLAMS ONLY! (preferably steamed)

    Vaya Con Dios !

    Anthony Ferreira

  7. raul Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at 4:46 pm #


    You owe a minute of my life back because I just read the entire ridiculous comment you left. Go troll somewhere else.

  8. JR Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 3:53 pm #

    I’ve never been a big CAO fan but this stick turned me around. Your review is spot on after trying a couple of these and just picked up a box at my local B&M. Highly recommended.

  9. TriMarkC Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 10:26 pm #

    First, I agree with Raul – Anthony owes us all for wasting our time for his whine-fest!

    Next, I tend to smoke cigars in the mid-strength range. I’m newer to cigars, of about 3-4 years now, and am slowly working my way upstream from mild cigars. That said, I recently was able to try two sizes from the CAO La Traviata, and I really enjoyed them! I was forewarned to their potential strength, so admittedly I was hitting them hard like some cigar smokers – I took my time and enjoyed the flavors and complexities that I am starting to learn to appreciate. Overall, a great cigar in my humble opinion!

  10. Ax Saturday, February 13, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    I was a big CAO fan a few years back… then they went crazy with their pricing. When the $ signs went way way up, I stayed equally away. With that said, I stumbled upon this stick at my local store in Charleston and was rather impressed. I liked the construction, burn and draw. All of that on top of the flavor. I went back and purchased several more the next day. This cigar has a regular spot in my humidor as long as CAO doesn’t decide to over price it like rest of their sticks.

  11. Doug O Thursday, February 18, 2010 at 10:06 am #

    I was late in hearing about the La Traviata. I actually stopped by the smoke shop one day, and the clerk said, "Have you tried the new Nicaraguan CAO's yet?" and I looked at him funny, because I am not a CAO fan. I typically smoke Opus, Chateau Fuente, Ashton ESG, Diamond Crown Maximus. I smoked a lot of CAO when I first got into premium cigars, but the only thing premium I found was the price. The Criollo was nice, but too expensive for what it was, the Italias were always too dry, the America's were pretty, but flimsy, and the Brazilia was a smoke I actually liked, but besides being over-priced, it also has a tough draw.

    The clerk, who I talk smokes with all the time, said he thought I'd like the new La Travitia. For some reason, they had the boxes in, but weren't opening them yet. Well, I appreciated the offer, but I'd been disappointed by CAO too many times (like the $20 Soprano's smokes that taste NO different than the $10 Brazilia.)

    I had seen the La Traviata box opened, and didn't even look, until a few weeks later, I just happened to notice the oily wrapper. Then I noticed the $5 price tag, and figured What the Hay? I figured a $5 CAO had to be the worst tasting smoke ever, but it ended p being one of the best.

    Now, it's no Opus, and it's no ESG, or Maximus, but for a quarter of the price? It comes pretty close.

  12. HO JO Monday, February 22, 2010 at 1:21 am #

    just got my shipment of La Traviata…. can't wait to lay them up for a couple weeks before I indulge…and yes, Anthony wasted my time too….. what a poor poor attempt at being witty… who cares about his Uncle's opinions????

  13. Marc E Friday, March 5, 2010 at 8:58 am #

    Got my hands on a divino about a month ago and it has been resting in my humi for about a month now…will fire it up in a few weeks and will come to one of the following conclusions:

    1. Glad I only bought one


    2. Why did I only buy one!!!???

  14. JOHN P. Monday, March 15, 2010 at 2:38 pm #

    This cigar doesn't come close to an Opus X or Padron Aniversario, thats comparing apples and oranges. With that said I think that this one is a winner. It is well balanced and my favorite kind of smoke. Medium bodied that starts out a bit peppery then devolops a sweet spice throughout. this one is a winner.

  15. JOHN P. Monday, March 15, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    …and I have been smoking about one of these aweek since their debut in my local shop in September and I have noticed that the flavor is consistant, but the draw has been getting progressively better with age.

  16. Scott B Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 6:00 pm #

    Just finished the Traviata with a glass of Ardbeg 10 year. A very nice smoke and a great way to kick off summer on the back deck.

  17. Ted Langdon Saturday, June 12, 2010 at 3:12 am #

    I was surprised at how good the smoke was from end to end,especially considering it's reasonble price.Great cigar

  18. rece Monday, March 14, 2011 at 5:19 am #

    Maybe I should have let this one rest for a month or two; super hot about half-way through. anyone else experience this?

  19. M. Jordan Lichens Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    I personally was a fan of this stick, but I have to say that a favourite of mine will always be the Cameroon and what I judge everything else by. Now, if they can ever re-introduce their pipe tobacco blends then I'll be the happiest smoker alive!

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