By now, just about everybody in the cigar smoking community has heard the buzz about the CAO Vision line. A nearby brick and mortar store had 2 boxes of these cigars (the robusto and torpedo sizes) and they were completely gone within a few days. If you haven’t seen these cigars in person, you’ve probably seen this video (or one like it), or pictures on any number of cigar websites.
But in case you don’t already know, the biggest attraction to the Vision isn’t the cigars. It’s the box. These cigars come in a box that’s the cigar world’s equivalent of the iPod. It’s creamy white, and when you open it up, blue lights lining the edge of the box illuminate. Of course, that means the box is battery powered, but it gets better. The box is itself a humidor, designed to maintain a constant 70% relative humidity. And how can you tell? Why with the digital readout mounted on the front of the box, of course.
In short, the CAO Vision humidor box is marvelous. And I want one. But this post isn’t about a swanky cigar box. It’s about what’s in the box.
Size: 5 x 50 (Robusto)
Wrapper: Dominican Republic
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Brazil, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Secret Codes: 0014998 and 0014991 (I just don’t like calling anything to do with cigars “serial numbers.”)
Price Per Cigar: $13.40
At first glance, they’re pretty good looking cigars (there were some weird veins, but I’m not gonna dwell on them). I’m not a big fan of the band, but I don’t hate it either. Closer inspection revealed little, disappointing imperfections. In both cigars, the cap leaf appeared to be imperfectly stuck to the cigar. I also noticed a crack or two in the wrappers of both cigars. (I don’t think the cracks in the wrapper turned out to have any noticeable impact on the quality of the smoke.) Theoretically, I should not have bought these particular cigars with these visual impairments. However, the box I selected them from was nearly empty, and these seemed to be the least noticeably flawed of the bunch.
I was proven right in my analysis of the cap. When I clipped the first cigar, the cap leaf almost immediately came off, stucking to my lip. Talk about annoying. Fortunately, the cigar didn’t unravel or noticeably loosen. Still, annoying. Noticing similar cap construction issues in the second cigar, I opted for the punch instead. That did the trick, and proved to be the better clipping decision.
Before I lit them, both cigars had a prominent sweet smell with a noticeable barnyard/hay note.
With both cigars, I had an inconsistent burn for roughly the first half to two thirds of the cigar. While this probably didn’t have a pronounced impact on the smoke, it was annoying. Fortunately, these issues worked themselves out in both cases in time for the final third. In one cigar, a crack that was present in the final third before lighting began to lift away from the cigar as it reached the burn line. Again, an irritation, but nothing serious.
The punched cigar seemed to have a better draw than the one with standard clip. Initially, it was almost like a jet of smoke, but as I progressed through the cigar, the smoking experience was not noticeably different. If you choose to smoke one of these, I would recommend using a punch.
I’m not sure what it means, but I noticed the wrapper actually sparking as I smoked it, particularly in the first third. And by “sparking”, I mean little flashes of fire on the wrapper. Kinda cool, actually.
In both cigars, the final third burned a bit hot for my liking, despite my conscious attempt to smoke the second cigar more slowly than the first. It’s not clear to me that this cigar smoked better at a slower pace.
My notes on the cigars’ flavors differ considerably. I think that’s because this cigar seems to like to wander. Some might equate that with complexity. To me, it just seemed kid of random and abrupt at points.
Generally speaking, I noted creaminess and cedar in the first quarter to third of each cigar, with occasional pockets of spice, almond and what seemed like apricot. (Seriously. I know you’re saying “B.S.”, but I swear. ) At this stage I also noted an unusually long, but pleasant aftertaste. The flavor transitioned toward a toastier, nuttier, leathery flavor in the middle third, again with unexpected pockets of almond and cinnamon. And finally became a mildly peppery molasses flavor in the final third.
Even though I’ve decided to start noting the price I paid for each cigar in the stats section, we still need to talk about it. Some more fortunate reviewers were able to pick up this cigar for a few bucks less than I did, but I still think that’s too 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 never had as many construction annoyances with the Gold as I did with this cigar.
The title of this post is probably misleading. Because it isn’t the cigar that’s bucking the trend, it’s me. I’ve read a lot of reviews recently praising this cigar and recommending it to others. (To be fair, many of them complain about the price.) However, I just can’t give the Vision a passing grade. This cigar just didn’t work for me. And I’m not sure why, because there are elements of the flavor that I did enjoy. It just didn’t settle right with me for some reason.
Both times I smoked it, I was basically laboring through it. Once finished, the Vision put me out of the mood for any cigars for a couple of days. To give you an idea, it took me 3 weeks to smoke these two cigars- after the first, I didn’t want to try the second. I don’t think it’s the power of the tobacco, I’ve smoked (and look back fondly on) other cigars that really messed with my head. It’s a shame too, I really wanted to like this cigar so I had an excuse to buy the box!
(I got the idea for this section from the reviews over at StogieCast. I told ‘em I’d give ‘em credit for it if I snagged it! )
Like It: Not Really
Buy It Again: No
Recommend It: No
What Other People Are Saying
- The Video Review on The Stogie Review – Verdict: thumbs up, but too spendy.
- Podcast Review on StogieFresh – Expensive, but recommends it. Loves the box.
- Review on CigarPass – Recommends it, but isn’t overly impressed by it.
- Review on StogieChat – Unimpressed by the cigar. (Another guy that paid a lot less for his cigar than I did! )
- The Future of CAO: Promising, or Scary As All Freaking Hell? – A funny Cigar Aficionado article on CAO that has a decidedly negative opinion of the Vision: “Compared to the other good cigars in the $12 – $16 price range, the CAO Vision still sucks.” (Emphasis in original text.)
My Other Reviews
- Cuesta Rey 1884 Lonsdale
- CAO Gold Natural
- Diamond Crown Maximus Toro #4
- CAO Sopranos Associate
- Extra Ordinary Larry (Drew Estate Acid)
- Ashton VSG vs. Diamond Crown Maximus Toro