Friday, February 5, 2010

CAO Criollo

CAO Criollo- The CAO Criollo is CAO's attempt to make an entirely criollo tobacco cigar. Many consider this almost impossible as it difficult to get quality wrapper from criollo, but CAO did it. This is a Nicaraguan puro: binder, filler, wrapper. I haven't heard much about this cigar. In fact, I've never even heard of it.
I picked up this cigar at a random Cigarette Outlet nestled in the shadow of a Giant supermarket in a suburb outside of Baltimore. Many time these stores offer little to no selection in the way of cigars; and what they have is often stale and poorly stored. But sometimes - you can find aged gems. Also, you can get a bargain.
I'm a sucker for a Nicaraguan and I'm intrigued with this mystery find, so I've gotta give it a try.

Prelight- The Criollo wrapper is a bit veiny and dry in appearance, but the seems fresh, albeit a little dry throughout. The band is basic and matches the shade of wrapper, giving it a classy look. I trim the cap and find a perfect draw at the capped end. The cap sports a pigtail, which always adds something to a cigar's personality. The prelight taste is almost undetectable, but I guess I can taste fresh tobacco and earth.

Sparking it- The Criollo lights with ease and my palette is tingled with medium spice. The spice soon subsides and gives way to a very basic earthy taste. The cigar is burning nicely, but the flavor is lame.
Granted this seems to be a mild smoke, but the smoke is just plain dry and unfulfilling. I hope it picks up as the burn progresses.

Smoking it- The best thing I can say about this cigar is that it burns well. It started a tad uneven, but corrected itself and toasted away without a hitch. A loose seam on the wrapper worried me that I might have bits of half burnt Criollo falling on me, but my concerns never come to fruition.
The flavor does not satisfy or suit my palette in any way. Given the smoke is mild, I'm not looking for something that isn't there, but the flavor is non-descript and bland. Halfway through the smoke I taste the body of the cigar pack a bit of a punch to my palette. But the blow is empty; I taste earth with a little leather. Nothing more than that.
I wouldn't recommend this cigar to even a mild smoker. At $7 a stick, the Alec Bradley Family Blend is 10 times better than this cigar. I wouldn't say that it tastes bad, but it tastes like nothing. It leaves my palette feeling empty, dry and bitter.

Overall- E

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What do you think? Am I on to something? Am I wrong? Or am I full of shit?