CAO Pilón Añejo | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Honduran Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Size: 5.5 x 54 Robusto
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $8.89

I’ve had my fiver for 4-1/2 months. It’s a CAO. I hope this is long enough.

From General Cigar:
Production: 5,000 Boxes (20 Count)
“CAO Pilón Añejo is made with the same circular pilón fermentation technique as CAO Pilón, the collection that launched in 2015.

“Pilón is a term referring to the stacks of tobacco leaves arranged in large piles for fermentation. Through the combined weight of the tobacco and moisture, heat is generated, thus activating the fermentation process.

“CAO Pilón Añejo uses a unique blend of tobaccos that are met with 2-year aging after the cigar is finished.
“Handcrafted in Honduras at STG’s HATSA Factory.”

I don’t even know if I should continue this part of the review. Basically, on your average cigar, there are 15-20 different aromas available to your nose. After a while, there becomes a redundancy that you don’t care about, and neither do I. Now, I do love to smell my cigar before I light up no matter the time of day. But I don’t really believe anyone cares about a reviewer’s schnoz impressions. My schnoz can impersonate W.C. Fields. And that about covers it.

The cigar feels right in the hand. The draw is ample. My poor anguished PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool downs a handful of anti-depressants and goes back to sleep.

Every single CAO requires extensive humidor time. It is rare that their cigars are aged very long after being rolled. Clearly, this cigar is different. With 2 years of rolled cigar aging, I am looking forward to how this manifests itself.

The first thing that catches my attention is the room filling smoke from this little tobacco bratwurst. Speaking of smoke, I’ve been in two house fires. The first in London in 1976 and the second in San Pedro in 1978. I’ve since been good and don’t play with matches.

The initial impressions (I can also do a mean Liberace impression) are vague with notes of caramel, chocolate, black pepper, steak sauce, orange citrus, and brioche.

Strength is right at the doorstep of medium/full.

It’s a good start for this blend. The aging shows with a mild complexity appearing immediately after I put a burning oily cloth to cigar foot.
I now taste 10-40 and gasoline. I’m sure it will pass.

1-1/2” in, creaminess enters. So does milk chocolate. Moe said spread out and the cigar blend obeys.

An overall complex venue is inhabited by this cigar’s spirit. Another nice cigar that isn’t price greedy. This cigar can already be had cheaper on auction sites and other discount online stores.

The orange nearly turns into Courvoisier. A sweet cognac note that, at this point, is very prominent and insistent. The chocolate is a perfect complement. The creaminess coats the two upstarts, and the picture is complete.

Just like a door opened by a strong wind, the complexity goes for autocracy. This will be a cigar whose sum is greater than its parts.

Sophisticated smokers will dig this surprising little blend. I am reticent, this early in the cigar, recommending this for newbies…this hangs in the balance.

I am really glad I waited over 4 months before reviewing the cigar. I tasted one a couple months in, and it was nothing like this morning’s cigar. I don’t trust reviews that come out 15 minutes after receipt of the cigar. Either the reviewer’s palate is super-hero status, or they want to be the first to review it. It’s not a contest. A reviewer’s job is to provide a fair and balanced opinion. It is frustrating to wait till the cigar is ready…but that’s the way it is.

The flavors are very dense and complicated. Transitions begin which are spread all over the flavor wheel. The finish is mostly black pepper…nullifying the more subtle flavor points struggling to get through.

Luckily, the complexity is driving with its eyes closed. It runs over any preconceptions I might have had considering this is a fairly priced CAO…and my tepid reaction to other CAO blends.

The char line is dead nuts.
Construction is doing a beautiful job.

Sips of water see the nuanced notes flourish without the black pepper’s interference.
Medium/full it is at the 2-1/2” burned point.

I have much more expensive cigars waiting for their shot in the spotlight. The CAO Pilón Añejo puts most of them to shame.

Like an unfolding Asian fan, the density deepens, and the character of the cigar continues to improve exponentially. I’m having a good time.
Two months ago, this cigar had none of the qualities it has now.

Creaminess, milk chocolate, orange citrus, malt, brioche, cedar, a touch of caramel, a touch of steak sauce, and charred oak are entrenched into this cigar’s DNA.

The aged tobacco is the star of this mini spectacle. Well-rounded. Deep notes of concentrated pungency keep my palate alert and wanting more.

At the halfway point, the strength goes full tilt. With nearly 3” to go, I expect the cigar to go for the jugular. A test of one’s manhood is clearly in the making. Probably not a good cigar for newbies.

If you are skeptical of most CAO blends, and for good reason, this blend will pleasantly surprise you. It smokes like a much more expensive cigar.

A beautifully balanced stick.
The cigar is a slow roll. The torcedores knew what they were doing.

Upfront flavors are the luscious creaminess, chocolate, and orange citrus.

It’s time that the spicy black pepper takes a break from its overlord position. It is masking the subtleties. So far, this is my only criticism.

If you are a stalwart smoker, this could be your morning cigar. For the rest of us, I recommend a full stomach. Nicotine is running wild in the streets.

Sips of water, or the beverage of your choice, reveals explosive insights into the blender’s intent. It isn’t often that I can taste the passion in a catalog cigar.

A couple inches to go and this cigar’s strength is mind numbing. But it doesn’t deprive me of the complexity and balance doled out in large portions.

Nuttiness appears. Notes of almonds and cashews move the blend into a different lane. Savory becomes the rule. Not a lot of natural sweetness at play. But that’s OK. I know exactly what the cigar wants me to experience…a very sophisticated 90 minutes.

The full tilt strength urges me to put the cigar down, but I can’t. My palate demands I not give up.

Individual flavors settle into a retirement community in Florida…while the blend continues on its conceived purpose.

I saw Cream play at the L.A. Forum. I’ve also seen Clapton solo. The Cream concert was better.

My organs begin to fail but I can’t put the cigar down.
I use a roach clip to finish.

CAO has accomplished something totally surprising and different.
This cigar is worthy of being a great go-to cigar in between the cigars I can’t afford, but bought anyway.

If you haven’t tried the CAO Pilón Añejo, you need to put it on your list of upcoming purchases. But remember to let the baby sleep for several months to get the best experience.


And now for something completely different:

There is a lot to be said about following your dreams when you are young; and most importantly, being in the right place at the right time. It started with me following my dream of making music my life’s work. Thank goodness a lot of luck followed. The magic is putting yourself out there, taking big chances, and be ready to deliver the goods. I was always scared shitless making those giant leaps…but I did them anyway. I was young. I knew music and I was a serious bassist.

I feel fortunate to have always been able to play out in good bands once I went back to a straight life when I was 35. It takes the pressure off from struggling to pay your rent while doing nothing but being a musician. Club or bar bands don’t make much dough. And I refused to be in a wedding band or cruise ship band playing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” or Carpenters’ tunes.

Working for a living allows you to cherry pick the bands you want to play in. On the other hand, if you are trying to make a living doing this, you must play with just about anyone that will have you, to make a dime. You say to yourself that you’re a great player so why isn’t it happening for me?

I made the decision, using a crystal ball and Talmudic writings, to not be a burn out as I got older. The transition was very difficult. I hated my straight job. I hated commercial construction. But being a structural engineer paid well, and I could raise a family. Music isn’t about how famous you become, it is ingrained in your soul, and you have no choice but to play. I am thankful and grateful to my mom for encouraging my music from the age of 9 when I was forced, at gunpoint, to take private accordion lessons. I learned the keyboard. And I learned how to read music and understand music theory.

Back in the early 80’s, I had a lot of friends because I owned a recording studio in Long Beach, CA. One of those friends was an L.A. disc jockey on a major rock station. 50,000 watts.
His name is Marshall. He used to get me into to the cool places, private parties, and the hard to get into clubs in Hollywood.

I was always jealous of those good DJ guys that had such great pipes. What a gift. Of course, there is a reason none of them made it to TV or the movies. They had a face for radio.

We used to hang out at this one club that is long gone…don’t remember the name and was very small and off the beaten path. I met Ray Manzarek of “The Doors” there. He was very laid back and we saw him there the couple times we visited the club each week. It was a very cool hang out and seemed to attract a lot of musicians. Of course, the cool days to hang out was during the week; not the weekend. The real hipsters stayed away from the throngs. Better chance of meeting people like yourself.

We got friendly with Manzarek, and I explained how I made my bones by playing bass in Curved Air. So, we talked music…we traded road stories. It had only been 4 years since I left CA and The Police were huge so my association with drummer Stewart Copeland was a big deal.

And we tooted nose candy together. Right there on the table.

The Fabulous Thunderbirds used to play at this club fairly often. And this was when Jimmie Vaughan was in the band…that’s Stevie Ray’s brother for those of you who are not sure.

The club had two floors with a DJ playing music downstairs that held a lot of folks. But upstairs was the place to hang.
There couldn’t have been more than a dozen tables, a bar and no bandstand. The band played on the floor in the corner.

The FT’s were getting airplay back then and since Marshall was a big shot DJ, the boys of the band would always visit with us for a while.

Bands knew that if Marshall liked them, they might get some serious airplay on a big station. Although, at a big station, song choices always had to go through the radio chief or programmer.

One night, Jimmie suggested I bring my bass with me next time they played there. I was thrilled that he asked. Actually, what was shocking was that this band of stunning talent only filled half the room of a dozen tables. We sat maybe 6’ from the floor/bandstand. And would kibitz with the band between songs. We turned into good natured hecklers. Sometimes, Manzarek would join us at our table and heckle too. The FT’s would flip us off and say shit about us. But not when Manzarek heckled. We drank, fed our heads, and laughed a lot.

The very next time we visited the club, I brought my 1980 Schecter fretless bass. I studied some of their songs at home so I wouldn’t make an ass of myself. I was ready.

Sure as shit, the boys asked me up to jam on their fourth set when there was basically no one left in the club. I got to play 4 songs with them and did OK. No clams. It was disconcerting having the legendary Ray Manzarek watching you play though.

After the gig, the band sat at our table, with Manzarek, and shot the shit while the roadies packed their gear. We sat there until 5am.

These boys were hard drinking fellas. No way could I keep up with them. I had to do a fair amount of toot to stay conscious…which I spread around the table…in fact, everyone shared their stashes. So, we talked all over each other and laughed all night…of course, with the club closed, out came the herb. So, it was crazy nuts.

Jimmie told stories about his brother. It was about 8 years later that Stevie died. Ray told stories about The Doors that had us all rapt with wonder.

Jimmie told us how a roadie would super glue the tips of Stevie’s fingers back on during concerts. None of us could fathom that and wondered if he was pulling our leg.

The night ended and it wasn’t till that afternoon, that I was calm enough to go to bed. Marshall and I continued to visit that club, but I never took my bass back. I figured it would be presumptuous of me to bring it without being asked.

The Thunderbirds disappeared into the night playing much bigger gigs…but Ray Manzarek was always there. We eventually began to feel sorry for him. He always seemed to be sad. He took a big fall from grace from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. He got involved in the L.A. punk scene producing and managing…and doing keys sessions. It was not until the early 2000’s that a fuller musical life came to him via right place, right name situations.

I don’t know anyone that lived through the 80’s as an adult that didn’t dabble in the storm of Cartel cocaine.

Yeah, doing the drugs was not a good idea…but when you are young, you feel immortal. Unfortunately, I lost friends to that devilish drug during that time (3 friends murdered) and over the years there were friends who didn’t know when to stop. You can’t do that shit when you are in your 50’s. You die. One great friend was in his mid-50’s and had a heart attack.
But I was smart about it. In 1985, I met the love of my life while on tour, married her, and gave up full time music and all the drugs that went with the lifestyle. Went back to work making a decent buck and lived happily ever after…and the final result is that now I’m here bothering you.