The new 2016 version is nothing like the original version. I don’t care what kind of PR bullshit CAO is dishing out…it’s a different blend. Do you taste grape jam in the 2016 version? Of course not. The following review shows what you are missing. That is all…carry on.
Today we take a look at the CAO Brazilian Amazon.
It debuted at the 2014 IPCPR trade show.
From the CAO web site:
“Unlike traditional tobacco plantations where the plants are arranged in neat rows, these seeds are planted wherever there is available sunlight. Once harvested, the leaves are rolled by hand into tubes called carottes and undergo six months of natural fermentation, a technique similar to that of Andullo tobacco. Once fermented, it takes four to six weeks to get them from forest to factory, a process that involves being hand carried to the river, put into canoes and rowed to the mainland, then driven to the port and shipped to Nicaragua where they are made.”
Only 2000 boxes were produced and CAO hints that once these are gone, they’re gone. The tobacco is too rare, expensive, and labor intensive.
An interesting fact beyond the CAO release is that the cigar tobacco is grown in the Amazon rain forest. And only grows once every three years. General Cigar reports that they were only able to get their hands on 5,000 pounds of the rare Bragança tobacco.
There is no traditional cigar band on the cigar. It is a twisted tobacco vein of tobacco leaf that is wrapped four times around the cigar.
I am taking a wild chance by reviewing it so soon after receiving them. And I want to thank Andrew of Small Batch Cigar for sending me samples.
CAO, traditionally, is an old school type of blending. Their cigars normally take months and months of humidor time. But since this is such a limited release, the last thing I want to do is review it after the ability to purchase some has disappeared. Everyone is selling them for the high MSRP of $9.25 except for SBC. I don’t know how he can charge $3 less per stick than everyone else.
So I may be reporting more of the potential than the blender’s final intent.
It is a very rustic looking cigar. Seams are tight in some places and sloppy in others. It is jam packed. The wrapper is a pretty dark coffee bean color with lots of mottling. There is no shortage of veins. The triple cap is flawless. The wrapper has a nice oiliness. With a bit of red in it.
The veins used to wrap around the cigar like a cigar band are tight and give the cigar a very unique look. I do not believe that CAO’s intent was for you to smoke the veins. That would fuck up the flavor profile big time by adding a huge amount of bitterness. I have no idea how easy it will be to remove them when the time comes.
I clip the cap and find aromas of sweetness, earthiness, fruit, cedar, leather, spice, dried fruit, and leather. There is a strong aroma of sweet black grapes along the shaft.
Time to light up.
So far, so good. (My knees are shaking because I dearly hope I made the right choice smoking the stick so early.)
Some pepper begins to show. Black pepper. The strength is mild/medium.
There is another flavor I cannot yet identify. A cross between a brat and raisins. Bratzalina Raisinets.
A slight bitterness appears. Very small and subtle. The sweetness is raisins, chocolate, and a bit of exotic melon.
This is a very strange, but very interesting blend.
With 1” burned, creaminess appears. That is a very good sign. Early creaminess means the stick will become flavorful.
I think that maybe, just maybe, CAO hit pay dirt for the first time. A totally unique blend.
Here are the flavors: Earthiness, creaminess, fruit, sweetness, cocoa, espresso, smokiness (BBQ), oak, peanuts, spice, and a big, fat ol’ brat.
I can detect those black grapes in the flavor profile now. It becomes dominant. Just as potent as the earthiness and creaminess. All I can think of is Welch’s grape jelly. The sweetness uses this as a jumping board to really take off.
I am pretty sure I taste primary potential and not the final blender’s intent. That would be impossible with such short humidor time. But the cigar is presenting itself like a baboon’s red ass in the zoo. You can’t look away. And then you start rubbing your private parts while your mother yanks you away from the monkey exhibit.
“Ma! It was just itching.!”
The char line has been a little wavy throughout the burn but nothing to get fussy over.
The chocolate becomes like baking cocoa. Very dark and this is where that bitterness came from. I love dark chocolate and the good stuff has a bitter twang to it. The leather remains strong as well. Nicely done.
The strength is classic medium body.
There are so many levels and layers of flavors it is impossible to pin something down at any given moment. I don’t know if it is some sort of complexity or just the cigar talking to me.
This is a very earthy cigar. Illusione is an earthy cigar. That is where the comparison stops.
Some kind soul sent me a 5 pack from Small Batch Cigar. Kept anonymous. Thank you kind sir. Now I plan to let all 5 rest for as long as I can manage. Based on the potential I taste, I am guessing that two months will do it for a start. Anything after that is just hanging plums. Like a Great Dane walking away from you.
The CAO Amazon Basin is getting very close to flavor bomb status. The pepper is rising to the occasion. Changing from black to red pepper.
I am allowing my brain to ruminate on how I am going to remove the “cigar band.” Scissors? Or my X-Acto blade? You have no idea how tight those little vein buggers are. I can’t even budge them.
A lovely floral note appears. Honeysuckle.
I am at the halfway point and the cigar reaches full flavor bomb status.
Here are the flavors of the CAO Amazon Basin: Earthiness, leather, creaminess, sweetness, cocoa, fruit, red pepper, raisins, espresso, melon, honeysuckle, oak, cinnamon, and toasty.
This is a fantastic cigar. I am truly shocked at the full flavored profile from a CAO blend this early in its home aging process. A few months of humidor time will have you saying to yourself, “Self. I should have bought more because now they are all gone.” Fuck Opus X and fuck Dirty Flatulent Rat. They will always be there. No disrespect to my Fuente/DE lover readers.
I’ve never smoked a normal cigar that has this much grape flavor. The concentrated sweetness is just terrific.
The strength is now medium/full. It has been a nice even build.
The CAO Amazon Basin is now very smooth and balanced. The complexity is mild only due to its youth.
But an absolutely delicious stick. I am happy as a clam I have more of these cooking in my humidor. I would love to buy a box but that’s a fantasy. I saw boxes going for as much as $175. Meanwhile, SBC is charging $116. How does Andrew make any dough on this? Because after the Katman10 discount, it is only $104. $5.78 per stick. That is just ridiculous when everyone else is charging $9.25.
The sun is out and I’m getting gorgeous photos.
The cigar is just cruising now. All the same flavors are in place. I’m getting a little light headed as some nicotine shows up.
Everyone reading this should buy these cigars. They are unique and probably never to be seen again after a couple months; or less.
Drat. I am losing the sun. I only have a 60-90 minute window if it is sunny to take advantage of it. And the window is closing.
Flavors are still going strong. I can taste every single one in my earlier list of the CAO Amazon Basin.
How they thought of this concept is impressive. Can you imagine all the heads of the company sitting around and someone says, “Hey. I have an idea.” And then following 10 minutes of laughter, they listened more closely.
CAO had to know that they were being left in the dust. Sales. CAO’s heyday was back in the early 2000’s. A decade later, they woke up from their coma.
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS