Cigar Ratings & Reviews

My Weekend Cigars: CAO Italia Cuban Press and VSL Nicaraguan Robusto

CAO Italia Cuban Press (4 7/8 x 50)

This past weekend, the weather cooperated, making it mild enough to smoke a couple of good cigars out on the deck. Rummaging through my humidors, I came across some CAO Italia Cuban Press (4 7/8 x 50) and took one of those. Whenever I’m asked, which of the CAO cigars I like best, I try to avoid committing to one specific edition, because I like so many of them. What I like about CAO Italia selection is, it’s a great example of the kind of character and complexity you can expect from CAO cigars in general. The blend is not too mild, nor too strong, well-balanced, creamy, extremely flavorful, and highly aromatic. IOW, it kind of has the best of everything going for it. And that’s just the main line.

The CAO Italia Cuban Press cigars, which are available as singles, or in the Cuban Press sampler (see photo), are every bit as flavorful as the parejo shapes, but the pressing is crisp as a freshly starched shirt, stunning to look at, and they do seem to burn longer. Plus, box pressed cigars seem to offer a  fresh taste with every puff, which keeps them from tasting bitter in the final stages.

The blend consists of Italian-grown Habano longfiller, which gives it some of that natural sweetness. Nicaraguan and Peruvian  leaves provide a nice balance, while the Honduran Habano seed binder and wrapper add the icing to this complex treat.

The flavors were earthy, nutty, and leathery with an appealing sweet-spiciness throughout. I paired it with coffee and enjoyed it immensely. Suffice it to say, if you’ve never smoked any CAO cigars, which I find hard to believe, the Italia blend is a great place to start. If you can get your hands on the Cuban Press version, so much the better.

*   *   *

VSL Nicaraguan Robusto (5 x 50)

On Sunday, I decided to smoke a VSL Nicaraguan Robusto.  I hadn’t had one since last October when I presented it to the Metropolitan Society  Cigar Club. This was one of several leftovers from that night. The blend is 99% Nicaraguan Viso, Seco, and Ligero longfiller (hence, the VSL name), rolled in dark Ecuadorian-grown Habano wrappers.. Compared to the CAO Italia from the day before, this cigar had a little more zest to it.

The cigar offered an excellent burn, revealing a long firm ash that surrendered to the ashtray at about 1½-inches. Dark, sweet tobacco flavors characterized the base with some peppery spiciness along the way. It held up nicely with good balance and flavor until the last two inches when it turned somewhat bitter. I’ve had better luck during previous experiences with this particular cigar. However, when you look at the price and how well these cigars are made, they do offer a good value. If dark Nicaraguan flavor is your thing, they’re certainly worth a try.

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CAO Italia Cuban Press

This past weekend, the weather cooperated, making it mild enough to smoke a couple of good cigars out on the deck. Rummaging through my humidors, I came across some CAO Italia Cuban Press (4 7/8 x 50) and took one of those. Whenever I’m asked, which of the CAO cigars I like best, I try to avoid committing to one specific edition, because I like so many of them. What I like about CAO Italia selection is, it’s a great example of the kind of character and complexity you can expect from CAO cigars in general. The blend is not too mild, nor too strong, well-balanced, creamy, extremely flavorful, and highly aromatic. IOW, it kind of has the best of everything going for it. And that’s just the main line.

The CAO Italia Cuban Press cigars, which are available as singles, or in the Cuban Press sampler (see photo), are every bit as flavorful as the parejo shapes, but the pressing is crisp as a freshly starched shirt, stunning to look at, and they do seem to burn longer. Plus, box pressed cigars seem to offer a  fresh taste with every puff, which keeps them from tasting bitter in the final stages.

The blend consists of Italian-grown Habano longfiller, which gives it some of that natural sweetness. Nicaraguan and Peruvian  leaves provide a nice balance, while the Honduran Habano seed binder and wrapper add the icing to this complex treat.

The flavors were earthy, nutty, and leathery with an appealing sweet-spiciness throughout. I paired it with coffee and enjoyed it immensely. Suffice it to say, if you’ve never smoked any CAO cigars, which I find hard to believe, the Italia blend is a great place to start. If you can get your hands on the Cuban Press version, so much the better.

*   *   *

VSL Nicaraguan Robusto

On Sunday, I decided to smoke a VSL Nicaraguan Robusto.  I hadn’t had one since last October when I presented it to the Metropolitan Society  Cigar Club. This was one of several leftovers from that night.

The blend is 99% Nicaraguan Viso, Seco, and Ligero longfiller (hence, the VSL name), rolled in dark Ecuadorian-grown Habano wrappers.. Compared to the CAO Italia from the day before, this cigar had a little more zest to it.

The cigar offered an excellent burn, revealing a long firm ash that surrendered to the ashtray at about 1½-inches. Dark, sweet tobacco flavors characterized the base with some peppery spiciness along the way. It held up nicely with good balance and flavor until the last two inches when it turned somewhat bitter. I’ve had better luck during previous experiences with this particular cigar. However, when you look at the price and how well these cigars are made, they do offer a good value. If dark Nicaraguan flavor is your thing, they’re certainly worth a try.

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Gary Korb

Gary Korb

Executive Editor

Gary Korb has been writing and editing content for CigarAdvisor.com since its debut in 2008. An avid cigar smoker for over 30 years, during the past 12 years he has worked on the marketing side of the premium cigar business as a Sr. Copywriter, blogger, and cigar reviewer. A graduate of the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, prior to his career in the cigar business, Gary worked in the music and video industry as a marketer and a publicist.

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