Mild And Tasty, The CAO Gold Robusto

CAO GoldFor 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.

Cigar Stats
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: Natural, Ecuadorian
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan

The Pre-Smoke
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
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. :oops: (You look away, thinking you’re holding it over the ash tray, and wham! Singed leg.)

The Flavor
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.

The Price
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.

The Verdict
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:

My Other Reviews
If you liked this review, you may like some of my other reviews:

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15 Comments

  1. Rick Beals said,

    May 14, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Here’s the CAO gold torpedo link from LeafyTimes:

    http://www.leafytimes.com/archives/122

  2. Rick Beals said,

    May 14, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Nice review btw!

  3. Brian said,

    May 14, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Hi Rick,

    Thanks for the link and the kind compliment.

    I tried a torpedo, but I guess I might have had a bum cigar- I could never get a consistent draw. (Though I have heard this complaint before…) It got really tight at the end, and there’s nothing that bugs me more than tugging the life out of a cigar for a tiny amount of smoke.

    With all the heavy puffing, I think I spoiled the flavor of the cigar. But I will give the torpedo another try one of these days. Maybe after I pick up one of those un-plugging tools I keep hearing about… ;)

  4. Rick Beals said,

    May 15, 2007 at 6:52 am

    You’re correct that the torpedo suffers from some construction issues. If I were buying a box of these today, I’d go for the robusto or toro. I still believe the Gold line is one of the best staple cigars out there that everyone should have in their humidor. There’s never a bad time to spark up one of these mild, tasty, toasty sticks.
    As for the ‘un-plugging’ tools, I’d steer clear. While you may be able to temporarily open it up, the taste will get skewed and other burn issue always develop. Bad construction and draw ruin any cigar, and unfortunately your best recourse is to toss it and consider never buying that brand/size again.

  5. Brian said,

    May 15, 2007 at 10:43 am

    I wonder if its just the gold line, or if it’s an issue with all torpedos CAO makes. I only favor torpedos for ease of cutting, otherwise, I’m right with you on the robusto, the toro, or the belicoso sizes. I’ve never tried one, but one of these days I’m going to try out a perfecto also. (Of course, several of these sizes are not available in the gold line, or even through CAO.)

    Interesting- that’s the first negative comment I’ve ever heard about un-plugging tools. What you say makes sense, but there have been a few situations where pinching a cigar has actually salvaged the smoke… So I’m thinking it might be worth a try, especially you’re just going to throw the cigar away.

    It occurs to me that instead of buying an expensive tool to unplug the cigar, perhaps using a paper clip or a toothpick might do the trick… I’ll definitely blog about that if I have the opportunity to try that. :)

  6. May 17, 2007 at 12:09 am

    [...] somebody’s blog, I left a comment discussing draw and burn issues I experienced with a CAO Gold torpedo. (As usual, I don’t remember exactly where that was, I’m a bit of a comment [...]

  7. May 20, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    [...] advising on the price-to-quality ratio of several different brands. We wound up settling on the CAO Gold Robusto, which I just happened to review on this blog recently. The best part of all is that I got a free [...]

  8. May 28, 2007 at 1:10 am

    [...] expensive. The guys at Stogie Review think it would be better priced at $8. Personally, I liked the CAO Gold much better than this cigar, and that’s easy to get in the $4 range. And I can say I’ve [...]

  9. ncardinael said,

    June 12, 2007 at 1:15 pm

    Great review!
    This is a terrific cigar.

  10. Brian said,

    June 12, 2007 at 1:36 pm

    Thanks ncardinael! I agree, it is a great cigar. I’m looking forward to smoking another sometime soon! :)

  11. steven said,

    June 26, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    One more thought on draw and burn issues……….I hate to give up on any cigar but agree that poor draw does detract from the smoke. I bought a package of wooden kebab skewers at the local market and was trying to enjoy a cigar while the BBQ was coming up to temp. Frustrated with the draw on my smoke for the afternoon and not wanting to toss it in the fire I figured that the wooden skewer might do the trick. The length is great for any cigar as well as handling (big hands seem to make smaller objects more tricky). The results have been favorable, and the cost is minimal while allowing me to “salvage” a few smokes along the way.

  12. Brian said,

    June 27, 2007 at 1:21 am

    Good idea steven,

    I’ve been using a straightened-out paper clip to adjust the draw myself. (I actually blogged about it.) It’s usually pretty safe- I haven’t ruined a cigar yet with it. But sometimes, it just isn’t enough. At times like that, I think I may have to try out your skewer idea!

  13. Gibb said,

    October 10, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    Great review, spot-on.

    The strange smell prompted me to check into the CAO Gold, glad you were perceptive enough to catch it.

    I’m right in the middle of it now, and I will likely be adding it to my top 6, at least in the “mild but good” category.

    Where can I learn how to gauge flavor like you?

  14. Brian said,

    October 11, 2007 at 10:47 am

    Thanks Gibb,

    Now that I’ve been reviewing for a while, I’ve found a certain element of barnyard scent can be detected on the wrapper of a lot of cigars.Though I haven’t established it as an absolute fact, the word is that the more funky the wrapper smells, the better it tastes.

    When it comes to detecting the flavors of a cigar, well, there’s a secret government program. It takes six months of forced isolation in a solitary confinement cell in the basement of a building in New York. But the good news is that the implant stops burning after 3 weeks. No, wait, sorry, I’m thinking of the Jason Bourne movies.

    It takes practice. And it helps to have a flavor wheel handy when your smoking. The more you ask yourself “what does that taste like?” The better you get at describing it. I still have an issue from time to time describing a flavor combination. Oh yes, and read what others say about a cigar, and see if you agree. You’ll probably find that you agree on some things, and disagree on others due to differences in palates.

    Hope that helps!


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