W: Honduran Jamastran Maduro
B: Honduran Jamastran
F: Nicaraguan (Condega, Esteli, Jalapa)
Origin: STG Esteli, Nicaragua
Continuing CAO’s quest for global cigar dominance, the CAO Nicaragua is the company’s latest world-class blend, this time paying homage to the ever-popular tobaccos of Nicaragua. Wrapping a potent core of aged Nicaraguan long-fillers from the Jalapa Valley, Esteli, and Condega regions in a Honduran Jamastran wrapper and binder, this full-bodied banger from Ricky Rodriguez and co. was the only new CAO release at this year’s 2018 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas. The line consists of three unique sizes, each named for cities in Nicaragua. For today’s review I pulled out a sample of the Granada (Toro) and went to work.
Pre-light draws were very promising. Airy flavors of sweet cedar, something along the lines of toasted grains, and a fruity sweetness greeted me through the bullet punch-sized hole I had made in the cap.
Once lit, the CAO Nicaragua was pouring out smooth leather and sweet cedar with a faint spice note in the background. This combination of flavors in the first third read something like a “classic” rich tobacco taste. The usual bold and peppery suspects known to frequent full-bodied Nicaraguan cigars were nowhere to be found. Around the one-inch mark some dense breadiness began to creep in, forcing the already-subtle spice even further into the background.
In a rather unexpected turn, what I had initially detected as a bready note morphed into a dominant, full-blown creaminess in the second third that washed over the profile like a tidal wave, leaving only traces of the cigar’s initial rich and sweet tobacco tones in its wake. Within the next few puffs the CAO Nicaragua had officially become one of the smoothest cigars I’d ever experienced. The subtle spice was now relegated to the finish, leaving me with a pleasant light aftertaste with each draw.
It wasn’t until I reached the final third of the cigar that its full-bodiedness struck me. The insane creaminess of the middle portion turned out to be a clever ruse – this sneaky bastard had been pumping me full of the ol’ Vitamin N all along. In terms of flavor, this last third was a return to form as the sea of creaminess parted enough to let some smoky leather and rich cedar through once again. I rode this particular wave all the way into the ashtray.
Kudos to CAO for taking top-notch Nicaraguan taste in a different direction. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the bold and spicy Nicaraguans, but the ultra-creamy, refined, and classic full flavor of the CAO Nicaragua was a nice change of pace. This is a solid “kick-back” smoke that would make a nice, smooth introduction for those yet unfamiliar with the awesome powers of Nicaraguan tobaccos, and a relaxing treat for the initiated. Both parties can find the CAO Nicaragua on our shelves here.