“Couldn't wait to try the Ave Maria; wanted to let it settle in my humidor and I'm glad I didn't. Sparked it up last night and was sublime from the word go. Best even burn I've seen. Not understrength but not overburdened either. Balanced draw, lots of smoke. Flavor solid throughout. Hard to describe taste, but pleasant. It lived up to the hype. This will be a regular in my humidor. Awesome band - compliments the psychological experience. The Templar knight is courage, strength, honor and unwavering, as is this cigar. Smoke one.”
CC of Concord, MA
“Well, in the opinion of an inexperienced smoker (20 years) with an unsophisticated palate, Ave Maria is not quite up to the hype of "Best Cigar Ever Made". It does have a beautiful wrapper, exceptional construction, perfect draw, and a really cool band, but IMHO it lacks the needed oomph to deliver fully the flavors that are evident in its medium character. All Ave Marias I have smoked leave a weird floral flavor (Roses?) after each draw. It is definitely one whose bouquet can be discussed around the cigar bar. It may be my unsophisticated palate, but I think this cigar is best with a really dry, not overpowering cocktail (I really liked it with my Extra Dry Vodka Martini), but not on its own. It's an impressive "compliment" cigar.
As for the CAO Italia, my inexperience tells me that sometimes one just needs a one note, little left of center, stronger than average, nasty cigar. The CAO Italia fits that bill. I have experienced few problems with construction or draw in this cigar and it always produces a full mouth of smoke with that, "Hey, I'm a kickass cigar!" flavor. It definitely holds its own as a stand-alone but it's a beer buddy (Pale Ale, IPA). It isn't bad with a Cab. How unsophisticated!!!
At the price of this sampler, go ahead and try two excellent offerings of two different cigar worlds. If you actually like the CAO more than the Ave Maria, to keep up appearances, don't tell DF from Elmhurst. :)”
JR of Fordyce, AR
“Good cigar combo. And well priced!”
JJ of Clovis, NM
“Im just an amateur in the world of cigars, so keep that in mind, however the Italia "Fatto a Mano" seemed to me as the better of the two. Smooth, burned even, and I smoked at least half of the cigar before the ash fell off. It lasted a little over an hour but I was sippin Whiskey with it. The Ave Maria is smooth and lasted a little bit longer than I wanted and I seem to have a hard time getting it to burn even, maybe thats due to my amateur methods.”
JB of Penngrove, CA
“Ave Maria: one of the best cigars ever made, of all time, and anyone who says otherwise does not have an experience or sophisticated palate. There, I said it. As for the CAO Italia - I've heard only good things, but I've experienced only bad things - mediocre flavor, hard draw, little smoke.”