Retro Smoke: CAO The Sopranos "Associate"
Last night, I went out with my friend Joe to see a two-man band called The Booletts at a local tavern here in The Lehigh Valley. We got lucky, too. No, not in that way (although we both developed a small crush on the barmaid). It's one of the few remaining watering holes in these parts that still permits smoking! Joe had his ciggies, and I brought a CAO The Sopranos "Associate" with me. I haven't had one of these 5" x 52 beauties in a quite a while, and they just get better with age, too. This one came from a box I emptied into my main humidor about three years ago.
The blend consists of a Nicaraguan, Dominican and Colombian longfiller core, Honduran binder, and a very delicate, dark Brazilian wrapper.
As I mentioned above, I took the cigar from my main humidor where the Associates were on the bottom row without cellos. As always, I pinched the cigar for freshness, inspected it for any flaws, and it looked perfectly fine. To protect it, I put it inside an old cedar-lined, Davidoff tube and went on my merry way.
The cigar lit up perfectly, and from the get-go just oozed with creamy dark, earthy flavors laced with notes of cocoa, coffee and caramel. I remember saying to Joe: "It's like drinking a thick mocha chocolate milkshake." The ash was hard as nails, and the cigar performed perfectly through the first act and well into the second. Then it happened...
I noticed that the wrapper was starting to unhinge, but not all that much, so I ignored it. However, as the cigar continued to burn it got a little worse; to the point where the wrapper leaf was sticking up, so I gently broke it off. It broke off cleanly, but the problem only worsened. Suddenly I found myself breaking off more of these fragile little pieces of wrapper. Eventually, the wrapper sprouted out all around and the cigar began to look like a blooming flower.
IMO, The Sopranos cigars are one of CAO's best, not only in how well they're built, but for their flavor, and I've never had a problem with any of them. Since I prefer to give the manufacturer the benefit of the doubt, this problem may have came from the cigar being on the bottom row of my humidor too long. I'm usually very good at rotating my cigars on a regular basis, but have been lax since I moved last October. It could also have come from several wide flucuations in RH I've noticed since the move, too.
However, the story does have a happy ending. No, not that kind of "happy ending" (did I mention the barmaid?). With just a couple of inches left to go, I peeled away all of the remaining wrapper and smoked the cigar on the binder. Believe it or not, it was still a great smoke! There are not too many cigars that can do that.
As soon as I got home, I moved all my remaining Associates to the top row and my confidence is high for next time.
If you'd like to share a similar experience, please leave a comment.
~ Gary Korb