CAO Sopranos Soldier

By email request, this week I’m taking a look at the CAO Sopranos Soldier. (And you thought we didn’t read your email!) As luck would have it, I just happened to have a few of these guys kicking around in my collection of RTDA/IPCPR booty.

Normally I’m good for some friendly banter just before the review, but I spent the day in jury duty, so I’m a little beat. That’s my official excuse. (Wait, does this count as friendly banter?) But hey, I think I just earned $25 from the state of Georgia for my service. Minus the buck fifty they made me pay for hot brown water (coffee?), that leaves me with $23.50 free and clear to spend on a cigar or two. What cigar should I buy with my new-found riches? Should it be another Sopranos? Well, let’s have a look at the cigar and find out!

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 x 54 (Toro)
Wrapper: Brazilian Mata Fina
Binder: Honduras
Filler: Columbia, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 1 3/4 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: ~$12.50

The Pre-Smoke
As with many of the CAO cigars, the Sopranos line has a striking visual appearance. Like the America I reviewed earlier, it boasts of two bands, a bright red one at the foot bearing the name of the line, and a black band at the head with CAO name in red.

Spots of varying sizes near the head

The wrapper was very dark with a nice sheen and full of prominent veins. The surface was somewhat lumpy to the touch seeming to indicate additional significant veins under the wrapper. In testing the construction of the cigar I found it to be very solid, with virtually no give whatsoever. There was definitely no skimping on the tobacco for this cigar. However, I did notice an unusually large number of small wrapper imperfections (i.e. water spots).

A big discoloration near the foot

Before clipping the cap of the cigar with my flamboyantly-red Xicar (which I suspect felt a bit inadequate in the presence of the even redder, more flamboyant foot band) I examined the scent of the unlit cigar. As soon as I took one sniff of the wrapper, I was immediately inspired with a delightfully unusual description of the scent: beef jerky. I tried the scent several more times to be sure, and I’ve gotta go with that. (It’s more exact than campfire-smell-on-your-clothes, my second choice.)

The scent at the foot was more conventional. I got sweet barnyard aroma there, and that was also present in the cold taste, as was molasses and maybe a bit of black licorice.

The Burn
Overall this cigar burned pretty well and I had no draw issues. There were points when this cigar burned a little uneven, but generally the burn line corrected itself. The one exception to this occurred toward the end of the second third where an unburned portion of the wrapper formed a what looked like a puzzle piece tab. Shortly before I finished with the cigar, it also required relighting.

The ash was was solid and white, and held on for nearly two inches before dropping like a rock into the ashtray.

The Flavor
The first third of the cigar opened with a promising array of flavors, including chocolate and coffee notes before settling into a flavor that would dominate the cigar: leather. Aside from the occasional pockets of saltiness in the second third and some toastiness at the beginning of the final third, this cigar is consistently leathery.

In terms of strength, this this cigar was solidly medium and maybe a little more than medium for the body.

The Price
For the price I paid, I have no complaints. But then, I picked these cigars up the Escape With CAO party at RTDA/IPCPR. Outside of the fantasy world of RTDA, mere mortals can expect to pay at least $12.50 for singles at your local smoke shop. And at that price I can tell you that I for one will bypass this spendy wise guy for a Gold or a Gold Maduro.

The Verdict
Ignoring the price tag for a minute, I think the Soldier suffers from too much of good thing. By then end of the cigar, I was simply bored. Leather is a fine cigar flavor in moderation, but an hour and a half of leather is just too much. As you’ll notice in the pictures below, the butt in the ashtray is a bit longer than usual.

Though I had mixed results with my earlier adventures with the CAO Sopranos Associate, I think if I were to recommend a cigar in this line to try, that would be the one. Of the two sizes, the Associate was clearly the superior smoke in my book, and it’s easier to fit into a busy schedule. And it’s a buck or two cheaper to boot.

Liked It: About the 1st half
Buy It Again: No
Recommend It: No (try the Associate instead)
The Cigar In Action