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The much-talked-about CAO Concert is the second new cigar from CAO since they joined forces with General Cigars in early 2011 (the first being the OSA SOL). These smokes were blended by CAO’s head of product development Rick Rodriguez, and feature a mix of four different Nicaraguan and Honduran filler tobaccos ( none of which have been used in any previous General cigar lines), a Connecticut Broadleaf binder, and an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper. Everything about these cigars is music-themed, from the names of the sizes, to the guitar-pick bands, and right on down to the awesome-looking boxes, which are designed to look like little Marshall amps. Early reviews had been very positive, so when the Concert arrived on our loading dock this morning, I decided to break out the Amp (5 ½ x 46) vitola for today’s test-smoke.
The cigar was wrapped in a thick, veiny Habano Rosado wrapper with just a slightly reddish hue. Construction appeared to be super-solid, which really came as no surprise, as it is a General cigar. Pre-light draws produced notes of wood, earth, and a bit of grass, and the cigar lit up easily after a thorough roasting of the foot.
At first the Concert had a pretty firm draw, and a pretty straight-forward taste of earth with some soft white pepper on the finish. The burn-line was off to a slightly wavy start and had that “leathery” look to it. The smoke was silky-smooth, and as I puffed on I was met with balanced notes of allspice, cocoa, cream, and toast.
During the second third, the profile evolved into a creamy and nutty taste, accompanied by a strong note of leather and some very subtle sweetness. The burn had straightened itself out nicely, and the draw had become more comfortable as well. This 3rd proved to be even smoother than the first, and eventually a bit of black pepper made its way into the profile.
In the final portion of the cigar the flavors seemed to go a shade darker, with a rich and musky tobacco note in the forefront, along with a hint of anise, and some more spice. This profile stayed consistent, and the stick stayed straight-burning and smooth until the end.
The CAO Concert Amp was a fairly “clean” smoke with intricate, layered flavors and interesting progression. Its performance was good, the only real complaint I had was in regards to the tight draw during the first third, which loosened up pretty quickly. I enjoyed the balance of the different flavors in the cigar, and I’d like to sample one of the larger-ring vitolas to see how they would taste with a bit more room to “breathe.” CAO’s intention was for the Concert to be a stogie with great harmony, and I think they achieved that with this blend. I applaud the fine folks at CAO for another solid release, and I’m giving the Concert Amp a grade of B+. As tasty as they are now, I have a feeling that they will do quite well with some age.
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