CAO OSA Sol
The CAO OSA Sol, man that sure looks like a lot of acronyms all crammed together doesn’t it? Well CAO you obviously know that’s the brand name. What does the OSA stand for? Well it’s the region where the wrapper on this cigar is grown. It’s grown in the Honduran region of Olancho and it’s the San Agustin crop. Makes sense right? The Sol, well that’s not really an acronym it’s Spanish for Sun. So this wrapper is a product of Honduran tobacco that is sun grown. Boom, talk about some knowledge dropped on ya!
This is the first release from CAO after being acquired by General Cigar back in 2010. I know a lot of people were worried about what would happen with this first release and how the brand would do under new ownership. I remember attending the launch event for this particular cigar at my local shop here in Nashville. It launched to much fanfare and praise. At the time I remember not being a huge fan of the cigar and since haven’t revisited it. However, I knew that #CAOReviewWeek would be a perfect time to try it again and give it a thorough review. So here we are. Let’s just jump right into it.
One thing that CAO always seems to get right is the packaging. They have a great eye for packaging and design. This CAO OSA Sol is a perfect example of that. It hits you with some bold green and silver and backed with a some rich black colors as well. The band on this cigar really draws your eyes in. There appears to be a green “S” curling through the middle of the band. If you take a close look at it there is a map in grayscale acting as a backdrop to the entire band. Which I think is a pretty slick design and they really paid attention to the details for this blend’s packaging.
I remember from the launch event that they said the map in the background is actually a topographic map of the Honduran regions where the wrapper is grown. That’s a pretty swanky addition to the band and the overall artwork. It’s also a nice talking point when you’re discussing the backstory of this cigar. So I’m glad it’s been added in there.
The top of the band has the always prominent CAO logo. In the middle on top of the map, and the green “S” is the imprint of the OSA. It’s a bold silver font that really pops out at you if displayed under the right lighting. Then at the bottom of the band hiding in a black strip is the word Sol. The band isn’t overly extravagant but it does have quite a few nuances that you might not notice unless you’re looking for them.
The Honduran wrapper that is used on this CAO OSA Sol looks nearly perfect on this particular cigar. I do remember from the first one that I smoked it had some construction issues. I’m assuming at this point, a few years down the road from then that they’ve been able to fix those issues and that was simply a by product of putting a new blend into the market. This wrapper is gorgeous and just begging to be smoked.
I rolled the cigar up and down my fingers and couldn’t detect any soft spots. In fact it’s quite firm. I didn’t get much bounce back at all from the cigar. I didn’t notice any veins that were showing through nor the seams of the wrapper. The foot appears to be well packed and should supply ample air flow.
Because this is a 5×50 cigar I think it’s a little too thin for my punch so I whipped out my cutter and made quick work of cap. During the dry draw I pulled in a bit too much air and actually choked a little. Rookie move, I know. I don’t know if I was just overzealous and really wanting to smoke this CAO OSA Sol or if the draw was actually too open. Time will tell once I put some fire to it. So let’s go ahead and do that.
It took awhile to get the foot completely toasted. For some reason these last two cigars haven’t wanted to get started. However, once I started puffing on it the flame began to expand and I knew we were off to the races. There was a good amount of smoking coming off the edge of the burn line and I began to enter my happy place.
The first third smoked perfectly. The draw was nice and easy but not too open like I experienced in the dry draw. I was able to draw tons of smoke through the barrel. It just hung around my head like a halo until I ushered it into my fan and out of the garage. The burn line was a little wavy, but nothing that I would consider an issue. I was able to hold the ash on for just around an inch and then decided it was time to let it go. I mean, it was already 1/5 th of the way through the cigar. I’m ok with letting the ash go at that point.
This CAO OSA Sol continued to smoke perfectly all the way through the 2nd third and into the final third. I did end up purging the cigar somewhere in between. The flavors started building up a bit of bitter tarry-ness, but this solved that problem up quick and in a hurry. Other than that, a truly great smoking experience all the way to the nub.
I think it’s time to see what all this Sun Grown Honduran tobacco is all about! On the pre-light inspection I picked up a ton of spice. The foot offered some sweet yet spicy notes. Then when I moved up the barrel towards the head I began picking up more spice that led to me sneezing. So yeah I have a feeling this cigar is going to offer quite a bit of spice. There are some notes of barnyard and compost in there as well. During the dry draw I picked up a nice sweet tangy-ness that hung around also.
The first third of this CAO OSA Sol was dominated by spice. Especially during the retrohale. I was getting a couple of different spice notes. It started off with a bit of black pepper that transitioned into more of a bbq rub similar to mesquite notes. Then on the way out I picked up some floral notes. Very interesting profile thus far.
The second third continued with the spice but began offering notes of woody and savory flavors. Combined with the spice it was like chewing a nice big piece of barbecue, without the sweet sauce. There were some hints of nuts as well tossed in.
The final third was more of the same as the 2nd. I stopped picking up that floral essence from the first third. Now I’m pretty much only getting spice and some woody / savory notes. It’s definitely interesting. For me this cigar never really built up past the medium bodied range. It started there and stayed there. Very well balanced and kept me honed in for the entirety of the cigar.
Would I Buy It Again?
Is It an Every Day Smoke?
Would I Buy a Box?
Potentially, I’m not sure if I’m in love with the cigar, but it’s definitely enjoyable.
Overall I’m going to give this CAO OSA Sol an 8/10. I definitely enjoyed it. I wouldn’t say I’m head over heels about it. It just didn’t really wow me. This experience was much better this time around than the first. I can easily say I would smoke it again. Especially considering the price it’s pretty hard to beat.