CAO Heatwave | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Ecuadorian
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 54 “Toro”
Body: Full
Price: $8.00 MSRP ($7.00 at Small Batch Cigar)
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This is one of the sticks that a friend sent me a few days ago. He said that, on average, all of the sticks had 2-3 weeks humidor and since I am not a patient man, time to review.

CAO has a PR push a ‘happn’. It is called the Natural Disasters line. There are four different blends and one of the four blends will go to one part of the country. Such as the Heatwave will be distributed to the Northeast, the Cyclone to the Midwest, the Earthquake goes to the West Coast, and the Hurricane for the Southeastern US. Small Batch Cigar sells all four blends.

Each cigar will come in one size of 6 x 54 only. The Hurricane was the first release in 2013 and now the Heatwave. Only 1500 boxes of 10 will be sold in each category.
Other than that, there is very little info about this junior Ortega Wild Bunch scenario.

Like most of the country, we are getting terrible weather. It is 9am and near pitch black outside from the rain clouds. More claps of thunder awoke me in the middle of the night screaming right along with my little girl dog. Ah-wooo!

The cigar is certainly a big honker. So dark that a few shades darker and it would be black. It is oily with a bit of tooth. Lots of big and small veins, invisible seams and a nicely applied triple cap.
The double cigar bands are very simple and elegant.

I clip the cap and find aromas of strong, eye watering spice, ginger, citrus, orange peel, sweetness, cedar, and nuts.
Time to light up.

It takes a good couple of minutes to toast the large foot. And immediately, I get a blast of red pepper. Along with a fishy taste. Sardines. I take a sip of water. The fish taste is gone. Must have been me.
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The cigar begins with very subtle flavoring. There is a very woody taste along with some salted nuts. The citrus is lemon translated from aroma to flavor. There is a buttery toast element that is very nice. And graham cracker. All we need is some cheesecake. I make a mean sugar free cheesecake.

The stick is jam packed, and hence; a slow smoker. The char line is a bit wavy but I will not panic yet.

I got an email from a reader that has become a friend. I truly am blessed with so many readers becoming friends. While a lot of reviewers keep the rowdy crowd at arm’s length, I love to talk to my readers.
One of them, Mike Weinstein asked me something that I think I should explain. He mentioned that he saw my uncredited reviews on Rocky’s Cigars. I wrote over 100 reviews for their site and when we parted, they took my name off of all the reviews; giving me no credit. They even kept all my rock n roll stories.

Anyway, Mike said he saw the term, “Dead nuts” used and I was the only he has read that uses it.
I use dead nuts to describe something perfect like a char line. It comes from my many years in commercial construction. The term means that something aligns perfectly. Dead on. Dead nuts. Some of the stupid shit you carry with you long after it’s no longer needed. Lol
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The sky is so black that my photos are ruined if I don’t use the flash on my $1 camera. I look in front of me. The rain is coming down in sheets against the dining room window. The frightened dog is shivering from the thunder and the noise the rain makes.
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Well, I have burned a little over an inch and so far, the cigar does not impress. The flavors are flat and once again CAO does not get it. Instead of producing cigars like the New Breed Tattooed Ones in which their cigars taste just marvelous after 2-3 weeks, instead; CAO uses its tried and true method of making you wait 3-4 months. Will these guys ever get with the program?

My prediction: Blah the first third. Flavors pick up in the second lulling me into a sense of something good is about to happen. And in the last third, it blossoms and then fades in the last 1-1/2” Wanna bet?

Here are those wonderful flavors as I’ve smoked 2-1/4”: Sweetness, citrus, nuts, wood, cedar, and graham cracker. The spiciness has just about been depleted.
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Thank goodness I didn’t buy a box of these….just a gift of two. But remember, its CAO so maybe in a few months this will be a killer cigar.

On a very basic level, this isn’t a bad cigar. I am either tasting potential of a much better, aged cigar….or this is all the cigar has to offer. The A List reviewers have not reviewed this stick. Which tells me they got the inside word to let them rest. But then again, maybe the stick is so bad that they don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them. Better to write no review than a critical review and be cut off by the spiteful manufacturer. I’m just spit ballin’ here.

In fact, I go back to Google and there are only 3 or 4 reviews. The poor schnooks are blowing through their stash of Heatwaves and they just don’t seem to get any better.

At $8 a stick, this blend should be blowing me away. It ain’t folks.

I begin the second third after 45 minutes of whining.
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There has been no flavor change except for the flavors smoothing out a bit. The blend is all about sweetness and creaminess with an edge of nuts and cedar.

Hopefully, this is a long term investment cigar. Buy a box of 10 and then put them away and forget about them for a few months.

I’m at the halfway point. Amazingly, the cigar is not boring. The potential that is sneaking through is tasty enough to keep my attention.

I wish the spiciness hadn’t disappeared.
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This is the first time in 2000 reviews that I had to use a flash on my camera. Breaking new ground thanks to Mother Nature.

The dog clearly needs to pee so I take her out front and make her go. She buries her head low and then a lightning bolt brightens the sky and a huge clap of thunder follows making the poor dog scamper inside with pee still coming out of her quedgie.

Flavors begin to brighten as predicted. The graham cracker element is very strong along with some creaminess. The sweetness is very potent. But I don’t taste any fruit except for a bit of raisin.

Still at the halfway point, the cigar’ flavor profile becomes interesting. But to be honest, it doesn’t taste any better than the $4 La Aurora Escogido. I cigar I’ve been touting for some time. A stick given out only at La Aurora store events and at the factory. Actually, the Escogido tastes much better than the Heatwave.

If you read Cigar Aficionado, you will notice that the small cigars usually get the highest ratings. The little coronas tend to possess an intense flavor profile. So what do some of the companies like CAO do? They put out a special cigar and make it the size of a log.

I truly believe CAO has completely lost its knack and is struggling. But the powers that be refuse to notice what is going on around them. They ignore the popularity of the great boutique brands and think that everyone will come back to CAO because they have staying power.

I read that CAO is actually not doing that well. They continue to put out mediocre cigars in new age packaging…but with the same old problems…they need massive amounts of humidor time. And even then, it is no slam dunk that they will be great cigars.

This stick shows no signs of improvement. It is a one trick pony of flavors. I am really disappointed because the stick, and the series line, is getting so much PR.

Of all the CAO blends, I keep coming back to the Brazilia, Italia, Criollo, and the new CAO Extreme which isn’t a bad cigar.

I am about to begin the last third. And the sweet flavors become stronger.
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With less than 2-1/2” to go, the cigar shows itself to me. The spiciness has returned tenfold. The flavors really bloom. I am getting what the blender intended. So once more, either this is what the cigar experience is. Period. Or the last third is a portent of things to come with serious humidor aging. I have no idea.

Of the couple reviews I read, no one really went bat shit over this cigar.

The strength, from the beginning, has been medium bodied. Now it has moved to medium/full…with nicotine showing up.

Here are the flavors: Sweetness, creaminess, graham cracker, citrus, orange peel, nuts, cedar, and raisin.
If the cigar started out like what I am smoking now, I would have been really happy. And moments later, the strength moves to full bodied. And the nicotine is kicking my ass.

For some reason, the CAO web site still doesn’t have any info on this cigar; only the Hurricane. You’d think with all the dough at their disposal they would keep their web site current.

The cigar finishes out but I am conflicted. Either I smoked it too soon with only 2-3 weeks humidor time. Or this is all there is. Or it needs serious humidor time before smoking it.
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The new thing is to sell boxes of 10 instead of 20. It is more affordable and therefore more accessible.

Small Batch Cigar sells the box for $70 instead of $80 like everyone else. They provide free shipping. And you can get a 10% discount if you insert the word leafenthusiast in the coupon code window. So that makes it a $6.30 stick. It’s worth a shot since this is a limited edition cigar. I have one more stick and I intend to let it marinate for a couple months and then come back with my opinion.

If you look around, this cigar is almost impossible to find where it is not out of stock. Small Batch Cigar has 4 units left. For a bit more than $6 a stick, I think it is worth the shot.

The last 1-1/2” of the cigar is absolutely superb!
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And now for something completely different:

It was 1983. A good friend was a radio DJ on CBS radio in L.A. It was a classic rock station and I don’t remember the call letters.

His name is Marshall Thomas. We became friends during my band, The Attitude’s heyday in 1980.

He went from station to station. But the CBS gig was a union gig and he made some serious dough.
He went from station to station because they kept changing music formats.

I was in the midst of my Eddie Munster (Butch Patrick) project called “Whatever Happened to Eddie?”
Well, he got the word one day; after a year at CBS, that they were changing format and was given two weeks’ notice.

He invited me up to the station on his last night. He did the 6pm to midnight shift.

Around 10pm, he figured what the hell and began playing my 45 single of “Whatever…” over and over again on a constant loop. For two hours, that’s all listeners heard. Strangely, no one called and complained.

In between songs, he and I would kibbitz and tell jokes.

And then he put on “Stairway to Heaven.” Then he said to me, “Follow me, Phil.”

We took the elevator down one floor to the CBS TV station. They were doing the news. We stood outside the door which had big windows in the top half of the doors and we made faces and crazy shit so the newscasters could see us.

Just before a security guard came out to chase us away, we skedaddled.

We got back to the radio booth with about 30 seconds to spare.

Marshall put on some tune that was almost 15 minutes long and we headed to the roof. We lit up a joint and stared out at the L.A. skyline at almost midnight. A beautiful sight. We could even see the Hollywood sign.

After that gig, Marshall spent a few months doing nothing and handing out resumes. He finally got a gig playing country music in Palmdale. Way out in the sticks.

The record company told me they had a spike in sales of the record the next day. That would have been great if they weren’t shut down a couple weeks later by the FBI.

Another story….

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4 replies

  1. Phil, it would be fair to review the other stick 3 months from now. Just to play it safe. And you’re right, WHY do they insist using old school methods with so much humidor time? Now, there’s the Sinister Sam. Huh? I don’t know.

    • Cigar blending is moving very quickly and the old school methods don’t meet the needs of most smokers. Not just the impatience syndrome but the cost effectiveness syndrome. A huge portion of smokers just can’t afford to buy large quantities of cigars only to wait 3-4 months before they can light one up. When I pick cigars, I pick the ones I know will be good to go in just a few weeks.
      The boutique brands seem to get this. The giant manufacturers either don’t care or have night blindness and depend on the smokers who are bucks up and don’t worry about how long their cigars need to age in their humidors.
      I agree about this stick. The last third really showed some potential. That tells me that no matter how hip and new age looking the packaging is, the blending techniques remain old school. It’s bait and switch. Smoke and mirrors.
      There was a good article in this month’s Cigar Aficionado about manufacturers choose boxes. And all of the manufacturers chosen to show off their fancy packaging are old school blenders.

  2. It is a conundrum, is it not? We relish a hobby that requires us to commit the time and patience of a few precious hours every day to savor the intent the blenders work hard for weeks and months to achieve. Yet, when we must make that same kind of commitment to allowing the magic to occur in our humidors ( something that requires no action other than to resist urge ) we act like little children fidgeting at the candy counter.
    I’m with you, the old school folks need to step up their game, and there are a few that are good to go right out of the box.( a quality, local B& M helps ) Still I love the gratification of those days when I lift the lid to seek out that stick that went to sleep with the voice of Gilbert Gottfried, and has morphed into the crooning tones of Barry White.