CAO Cigars was acquired by STG (Scandinavian Tobacco) in 2007 and is now one of General Cigar’s many holdings. There was much speculation about what would happen to the brand after its acquisition, particularly since the company had such a large presence in the marketplace. Not many cigar makers have a “lifestyle director,” but CAO did, and it showed. As just another species swimming in the sea of General Cigar it could be expected that the brand would now assume a lower profile, and to some extent it has. (Check out the Stogie Guys’ interview with Ed McKenna of CAO for more details on this transition.)
But the brand continues to evolve, and the latest creation to crawl from the surf is this one, the OSA Sol.
OSA stands for Olancho San Agustin. The departament of Olancho is the largest in Honduras (larger than the country of El Salvador, actually) and lies to the northeast of Danli, the capital of cigar production in Honduras. There is an interesting saying about Olancho: “Entre si quiere, salga si puede” (Enter if you wish, leave if you can.)
The San Agustin valley is not on any map I can find, but if the coordinates that are printed on the OSA band are correct, it’s just across the El Paraiso border. Hopefully that makes it easier to leave. I looked at the coordinates on Google Maps and it appears to be an extremely remote location. No surprises there.
General uses a wrapper from the same region on their Punch Gran Puro, one of my favorite General smokes, and also on the Partagas Spanish Rosado. The OSA blend is quite different from those, but it is designed to “highlight the nuances” of this particular wrapper. The binder is Connecticut broadleaf, and the filler is a blend of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos. Three sizes are in production:
- Lot 54 – 54 x 6
- Lot 58 – 58 x 6 1/2
- Lot 50 – 50 x 5
The star of the OSA Sol is the wrapper, but you wouldn’t know it by looking. It’s a little rough, fairly veiny, and somewhat dry in appearance. The cap is smooth but sort of pasted over a round Cullman style head, emphasizing its functionality. The cap cuts neatly though, and it doesn’t unravel. Triple seams are nice to look at, but function is what counts.
The roll of the cigar is solid, but contrary to some other reviews I found these to draw a little too freely. They seem to burn pretty quickly, which may be a result of the loose draw. On the other hand, the burn is perfectly even, and the ash is smooth and solid.
Overall construction: good to very good.
In a word, the OSA Sol is woodsy. Cedar and humus. It starts up with a cedary spice and a touch of tannin on the tongue. It’s smooth on the palate though, and the aroma is sweet and woody. A couple inches into the cigar and the wrapper really starts to shine. Nuanced notes of apple and leather combine with the cedar in balanced complexity. The smoke remains smooth up to the end, but a slight pucker of tannin persists; a dash of pepper in the last third adds a dimension to the woody flavors on the palate. The sweet woodsy aroma continues to the end, but the flavor starts to char at the band.
Based on its wrapper I thought the OSA Sol would be similar to the Punch Gran Puro, but it’s mellower and maybe a bit more complex as well. It’s a great medium-bodied smoke for this time of year — I always like a woodsy cigar when the temperatures start to come down, and this one is smooth and burns beautifully. I wish it were a little more affordable, but 6 USD is probably not too much to ask. It’s worth a shot if you’re in the mood for a smooth and flavorful autumn smoke.
Special thanks to General Cigar for providing samples of this new blend.