CAO Pilón | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Cuban Seed Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5 x 52 “Robusto”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $6.50 MSRP ($4.25 online stores)




Today we take a look at the new CAO Pilón. A dear friend who prefers to remain anonymous sent me a 5 pack.

The CAO Pilón debuted at 2015 IPCPR trade show.
Release Date: August 2015 and is a regular production blend.
Factory: STG Estelí

The CAO Pilón draws from the common name for large piles of tobacco undergoing fermentation, and while modern day pilónes can reach 20-feet long, 10 feet wide and four to six feet high, pilónes of yesteryear were much smaller, and in this case, round.

From Cigar Aficionado web site:
“Rick Rodriguez and Agustin Garcia [tobacco operations manager at General Cigar] developed Pilón together. Rick developed Steel Horse on his own,” Victoria McKee of General Cigar told Cigar Aficionado.

“The CAO Pilón honors Cuban cigar tradition by featuring wrapper leaf that was fermented in a round pilón—a circular stack of carefully arranged tobacco leaf. The company says this particular technique dates back to the 19th century.

“We have experimented with pilón fermentation for several years.” Rodriguez said in a press release. “It’s a very labor intensive process and we took our time perfecting it. We thought it was the right time to create a line around this classic technique because it does such incredible things to the tobacco.

“CAO Pilón is composed of a Cuban-seed Ecuadoran wrapper with filler and binder tobaccos from Nicaragua.”

The CAO Pilón is part of the CAO Classic Series.

This is a beautiful cigar. A gorgeous, oily coffee bean colored wrapper. Invisible seams. A moderate amount of veins. Very solid. A nearly invisible triple cap. And very smooth to the touch.
The cigar band is quite complex with the size written on it. On top of the band, it says: LOTÉ PEQUENO, or small lot.
Rick Rodriguez’s name is front and center. At the bottom of the cigar band, it tells you the leaf stats.
On the back, it shows you what a round pilon looks like. Here is a photo of a round pilon:


Churchill 7 x 48 $7.25 MSRP
Robusto 5 x 52 $6.50 MSRP
Corona 5.5 x 44 $6.00 MSRP

From the shaft, I can smell strong dark chocolate, cedar, sweetness, and spice.
From the clipped cap and foot, I can smell herbal notes, cocoa, spice, barnyard, and fresh fruit.
The cold draw presents flavors of chocolate, sweetness, earthy notes, cedar, and spice.

The draw is excellent and big bold flavors start us off with: Chocolate, earthy notes, creaminess, red pepper, cedar, and a well-rounded bushel of roasted mixed nuts.
The balance is pretty good. Better than I expected. The finish is long, as well. And the CAO Pilón is finding some complexity.


The char line is spot on. I used my newly figured out method of lighting the outer edge (1/16”) of the foot’s wrapper and allowing the cigar light inward instead of outward thereby not creating a petri dish for runs.
The boldness dissipates and the flavors seem to be hiding in a cave as they morph into some complexity. Like a hibernating bear. Or a pupae.

Chocolate, creaminess, and spice rule the day so far.
Strength is a potent medium body with only 1” burned.

I read Halfwheel’s review and, boy, he did not like this cigar. But he also had construction issues like the ones I had with the MoyaRuiz Chinese Finger Trap yesterday. That really ruins the cigar experience. Plus he found inconsistencies in the three cigars he smoked. I smoked one prior to review and found it very good and surprisingly tasty.


We have Sweet Spot 1.0. The complexity is at full bore now…bringing out the flavors of a very strong spiciness along with cocoa, creaminess, nuts, malt, and raisins.

Smoke time is 20 minutes.
The earthy tobacco leaves a lasting impression. The CAO Pilón is one of those cigars so deeply steeped in the soil of the tobacco plant that you can taste it. This doesn’t happen very often for me.

Strength is medium/full. No nicotine yet.


Charlotte started her new job yesterday and now doesn’t have to go in until either 9am or 10am. This has ruined my impressions of the music being played on the cable TV radio stations. Instead, she sits there, sipping coffee and reading the newspaper, while watching CNN. I’m fucked.

The char line is dead nuts perfect.

I’m trying to think of a good analogy to describe the flavor profile of the CAO Pilón. It definitely has a candy bar essence to it.
I’ve got it! The Chunky candy bar. Loved these as a kid.



Malt shows up as: Chocolate Malt, Vienna Malt, and Special B Malt. (See Malt Chart).
Coffee makes an appearance.

I really like this cigar. The CAO Pilón is the first CAO blend I’ve liked in ages. CAO is old school. All of their blends take months and months of home humidor aging before they are ready to smoke. Plus, I feel that their blends are outdated. They seem to be making a half ass attempt to get down and Jam up and Jelly Tight with their new blends but this is the first one I liked.

The CAO Pilón is very complex now. Great balance. With a long, chewy finish.


Finally, after days of writing negative reviews about the cigars, I get one from left field.
The ball and chain had an early start for her job and just left. The radio is cranked. And ZZ Top is on playing “Gimme All Your Lovin’.” Good start.

For such an inexpensive cigar, this is definitely a big happy surprise. I’ve only had the 5 pack for 2-3 weeks so I was fully charged to accept that it was too early to review. I was wrong. Good for you CAO.

Smoke time is 35 minutes.
The raisins and nuts are screaming laughter now. I can taste the Chunky candy bar like an old memory come to life. The only issue I had with the Chunky was that it was so big; it was hard to bite into it the first time. You felt like a beaver chomping into a log the first time.

All three malts are contributing in a big way.
Big Sweet Spot. Friggin’ delicious.
Oh, something I remembered. That’s a nice change for once.

From the emails I get, a certain question is always asked. Yes, I squint my eyes when I am trying to discern subtle flavors. And while squinting my eyes shut, I roll my tongue inside my mouth with smacking my chops. This is how I really am able to taste the flavors others say they cannot taste.


I think the choice of sizes that CAO chose was spot on. I’d love to try the Churchill and the Corona. While I love this Robusto, it leaves me wanting more.
Damn fine cigar.

Cbid doesn’t have it yet but it will. I guess I’m a day short on this review as CI had this cigar as a Weekend Special. The only review I found was Halfwheel and he didn’t like it. If smokers read my review, there would have been better sales. I think that Halfwheel just got a bad batch. I’m having none of the problems he did. And the flavor profile is different from my perspective.

Well, I’m impressed. Haven’t said that about a CAO blend in ages.
It is certainly better than The Rake and the Chinese Finger Trap by MoyaRuiz Cigars. Or the Perdomo Craft Series Amber.
I’m so happy I have three CAO Pilón’s left.

Strength is medium/full.
I don’t want this to end.

The CAO Pilón is super smooth, complex with a nice balance and finish.


Here they are one last time: Chocolate, raisins, creaminess, malts, coffee, earthy tobacco notes, cedar, spice, and roasted nuts.

The CAO Pilón finishes perfectly. The spiciness returns and takes first place in line of the flavor profile.
No harshness. No heat. No bitterness. No nicotine.
I highly recommend the CAO Pilón.


No one is selling the line for the MSRP. At just over $4.00, this is a steal.
I wouldn’t bother with Cbid to save, maybe a dollar, before trying these cigars.
Once again, the proof is in the pudding. An inexpensive cigar can be excellent. The CAO Pilón will definitely go into “The Katman’s List of 147 Great Cigars in the $5.00-$6.50 Range.”

I had no troubles with construction. It behaved like a champ.
Wonderful flavors. Not a kitchen sink list of flavors, but it did marvelous things with what it had.
I’m going to eat some breakfast. Take a shower. And light up another one.
At this price, a box going for only $78-$95 depending on size is something I would love to buy.


And now for something completely different:
Into the Way Back Machine.

Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I was an everyday pot smoker.
I was surprised after moving to Europe and then England in the mid 70’s. Hashish was a treat and a luxury. And usually stale. But it was a big deal when a friend came over with the stuff.

We got to Europe and that’s all there was. Hash. Weed was harder to smuggle due to its size. It was even worse in England. It was an island. And of course, the quality of hash was a 1000% better.

The only time we got to buy weed was at the Paradiso Club in Amsterdam. And at a premium price for an ounce.
The hash was so much better there than it was here in the States. Europe was a shorter route for the smugglers. It was fresh and there were varieties. Lots of them. In the States, there were maybe 2 or 3 types.


What I never got used to was the way they smoked hash. Breaking up a cigarette and rolling into a long joint (Using two rolling papers overlapping each other) while sprinkling bits of hash into it. Made me sick as a dog. To this day, I haven’t smoked a single cigarette so the nicotine was a killer for me and Skip.


It didn’t take long before we found a pipe shop and bought the perfect sized pipe to smoke our hash. We made sure that when we socialized, we had our own pipes and stash. We always declined the joint full of cigarette tobacco. When we offered a Brit some hash from a pipe, they always declined. “We get too high blokes.” Wussy wankers.

pic 3

Our tours of the continent of Europe would always bring us back to Amsterdam as our last gig of the tour.
My 1967 Fender Precision bass had a face plate and a hollowed out area underneath for the electronics. I bought as much hash as would fit in that hollowed out section.

pic 4

When we traveled, I had no choice. My bass had to go with the roadies in the big trucks.
So, in essence, the roadies smuggled my hash over to England for me. The trucks were always inspected by Custom Inspectors but I was never caught.
I never told the roadies I was doing this.

But one day, as we landed at Dover, I asked for my bass from the truck. The roadies sighed as they tried to find my bass in a couple trucks full of gear.

Right there in front of them, I took out my jeweler’s screwdriver and removed the cover plate of my bass and removed the hash. Why? We had run out and this was our only source for the ride home to London which was a couple hours away.
We had to have something to smoke on the ride home; especially after that miserable boat ride across the English Channel.
Well, the roadies exploded when they saw I was using them as my mules.

I was the roadies’ favorite member of the band because I was the only one who wasn’t a prima donna. But on this day, they ripped me a new asshole.

I promised to never do it again. And they promised that they would check my bass before they drove it on to the ferry.
Well, I kept on doing it and lying to them that I no longer was smuggling an ounce of hash in my bass. Thankfully, they just didn’t have the time to take my bass out and disassemble it.

So for the next two years this is how I smuggled hash into England. I never sold any. It was my personal stash.
When I got home, my girlfriend gave me a big hug and a kiss and then asked, “Where is the hash?” Protection Status


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2 replies

  1. Yeah but the cigars is made by Swedish Match whose #1 product is Backwoods. The company CAO sold out to them years ago and fired all their employees that helped develope the brand with not so much as a “hey nice job” No it was “goodbye, see ya never”.

    In the bus 35 years

  2. just finished one with my morning cup of strong black coffee , your review was spot on , I really like this cigar and like you I wished there was more . I guess I’ll have to light up another one soon.

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