For some reason, I seem to be on a CAO kick recently. I wish I could say it’s because they’re sending me boxes and boxes of cigars to sample, but it’s not. Neither is it any sort of cool affiliate kickback. (C’mon CAO, who loves ya baby?) I hate to say it, but I think it’s their slick packaging and their gimmicky cigar lines (the space-age Vision humidor, the Sopranos line, etc).
Anyway, after 3 of these guys, I now have an official opinion on the CAO Gold.
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: Natural, Ecuadorian
The cigar was firm with very small veins in the wrapper. The most recent (and best documented) one I smoked both felt and appeared to be a little lumpy. In all but this last one the cap was fine and clipped without a problem. In the final cigar, it clipped awkwardly and the remainder of the cap fell off. Fortunately the cigar didn’t unravel or become noticeably looser so I was able to proceed. However, in the final third I did have an issue with one bit of the wrapper opening. I was able to use a bit of saliva to glue the leaf back in place for the rest of the smoke.
A quick note about the smell. The unlit cigar did have a bit of a barnyard/compost smell to it. I don’t know why that is, but I’ve smoke other cigars with a similar cold smell that turned out to be pretty good. And when I say barnyard smell, I’m talking about the smell of earthiness and hay, not the more interesting smell of a dairy farm. And you know what I mean.
The burn was great in all the robustos I smoked. (I had a plug problem with the torpedo.) There was a bit of unevenness and very minor blistering in the second third, but the cigar corrected itself and burned very nicely right through the final third. I may be partially to blame, but it seems that this cigar likes to burn a bit fast. In this last Gold, I made a conscious effort to slow it down a bit and there was a noticeable improvement in the smoke.
The cigar ashed twice, both times at roughly a third of the length of the cigar. And once on my leg. (You look away, thinking you’re holding it over the ash tray, and wham! Singed leg.)
The initial puff or two was very enjoyable. It tasted a bit caramelly to me at the very start and became very creamy for the rest of the first third. Here and there along the way into the second third I detected a bit of almond and papery wood.
The second third continued to be more and more woody. In the final third the flavor shifted toward earthiness and a bit of spice. The cigar’s flavor never got to be very spicy or peppery, even in the final puffs. And I smoked this cigar right until I couldn’t hold it any longer.
I enjoyed the aroma of the smoke of this cigar when I wasn’t puffing. It had a more distinct cedar smell to me second hand than it did when I was actually smoking it.
I paid a premium for this cigar. It cost me $5.35 for a single at a local strip mall shop, which is slightly higher than I would like to pay for it. The good news is that I have seen these for sale for $77 a box of 20 online, which lowers the price to $3.85 a cigar. That, I think is a great price for this cigar.
I like this cigar, and I think it’s worth the box price. It is a bit mild for more seasoned smokers, but I think it’s a great Sunday afternoon smoke. It shares some similarities with the Diamond Crown Maximus Toro I reviewed earlier (including construction issues), but comes with a much more reasonable price tag. It would be a good cigar to have on hand for guests, especially those that don’t smoke cigars often. At $3.85 a cigar, you won’t mind giving them away, and your friends won’t spend the evening leaning over the railing.
In short, I’d say it’s a buy with a solid B rating. And I guess I’m in good company, the August 1997 edition of Cigar Aficionado agrees with me. It gave the robusto an 89 rating. I’ve also heard elsewhere that its gotten ratings up to 90 (though with whom has not been disclosed).
What Other People Are Saying
Don’t take my word for it, here’s what other people have said about this cigar:
- Like Father Like Daughter on Cigar Aficionado – An interesting story that features the Gold Robusto.
- On CigarBlogger – “Must smoke. I plan on buying a box of CAO cigars just because of this one.“
- 4 panelist ratings on Smokemag.com – It’s a third of the way down the page.
- A brief review on LeafyTimes
My Other Reviews
If you liked this review, you may like some of my other reviews:
- Diamond Crown Maximus Toro #4
- CAO Sopranos Associate
- Drew Estate Extra Ordinary Larry (Acid Cigar)
- Ashton VSG Robusto vs. Diamond Crown Maximus Toro
- And you can always access all my cigar related posts here.