Half Brazilia. Half Amazon. Half Amazing. Errr....what?
If you were with me right now, you’d find yourself in the uncomfortably hot world of Las Vegas, where folks like me stay indoors at all times and only see the light of day when sprinting from the hotel doors to whatever car is driving us to wherever we’re going. I can’t stand this weather. ‘It’s a dry heat,’ they say. Who gives an eff, I am soaked, my shirt is like a cheesecloth, and the only thing I want is to shower and stand in front of the AC.
But here I am, ready for the annual RTDA trade show – or what is now called the IPCPR (International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association) trade show. This is the time of the year when many manufacturers and brand owners release their latest creations. It was here, when many of the world’s highest rated, ‘Top 25’ cigars first left an impression on the industry. Brands like Oliva Serie ‘V,’ Alec Bradley Prensado, Aging Room, Rocky Patel Decade, and so much more. Needless to say, I am looking forward to the next few days....
If you were with me right now, you’d likely enjoy the zesty aroma escaping the cigar I am burning: from CAO, the Brazilia Amazon Basin. I know, I know. I just wrote about CAO. But, there’s no way in hell I am going to miss the chance to review a limited release extension of one of my favorite CAO lines, let alone one of my favorite cigars – the mighty Brazilia. And, based on the first few minutes of this unique looking specimen, it’s important for me to be among the first to fill you in about this cigar. It looks good, and the start has been nothing but awesome sauce.
CAO Brazilia Amazon Basin is a dark, glossy cigar made in just one size: a 6”x52 Toro. No bands, rather, each cigar is wrapped with tightly wound tobacco leaf, skillfully applied to offer a lovely, rustic appearance. Prior to lighting, the foot gives off an earthy, floral note with a touch of damp wood. Me likey.
Upon lighting, the damp wood takes center stage. The cigar is rich to the core, and pumps out thick, heavy clouds of white smoke. The flavor is bold yet balanced, and the wrapper leaves a distinct sweetness behind, lingering on the tip of my lips and tip of the tongue. There’s a dash of black pepper in there that you really have to search for, but it’s enjoyable once you find it.
I am going to be completely honest with you. The flavor you receive from this cigar is really hard to identify. It’s incredibly unique – I may even be so bold to say exotic. Cigar makers always rave about using special tobaccos from special locales, but the cigars typically throw out a rather ordinary bouquet. CAO Brazilia Amazon Basin is far different, dishing out a range of flavor unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Truly a product of an uncommon strain of top grade, aged tobaccos harvested from the Amazonian rainforest – these leaves are called Braganca, and they’re harvested just once every three years. These Braganca tobaccos are then blended with dee-lish tobaccos grown in 4 other, different countries prior to a dark Ecuador Sumatra ligero wrapper encloses them.
Midway through, the power starts to kick in, but it’s complemented by a rich, creamy character that coats my palate with each puff. The cigar is toasty and sweet, the black pepper is a little more prominent, and that damp wood note definitely still shows itself during each exhale. Then there’s that something I cannot identify.
This cigar is driving me crazy. I can’t quite explain exactly what I am tasting beyond that. I love the flavor, and I love the richness, but I just can’t explain it. It’s rich yet floral. Hearty yet sweet. Powerful yet graceful. Argh! It’s driving me nuts.
Long ago, some of you may have remembered something we (in very dark corners) called swamp tobacco. Literally, tobacco grown in swamps. The flavor was outrageous. Rich. rustic, chewy, zesty, woody, sweet. That's the closest thing I can think of when I try to pinpoint this flavor. Rich, damp wood delivered in thick clouds of smoke you can literally chew on, coating thy palate, whilst dusting every last taste bud with two parts sweetness for every one part black pepper. While the cigar doesn't evolve throughout the burn, the unique subtleties at play make the Amazon Basin incredibly complex. Something you'll find yourself craving, since the flavor can't be - and won't be - found in any other cigar. Power, check. Complexity, check. Balance, check. Unique, check.
It's something you've got to try. Find it. Buy one. Enjoy it. Realize you should have bought the box. Face palm. Buy the box. Enjoy more. But know this is a limited release for very good reason which has nothing to do with marketing or creating demand. The process by which the Amazon Basin is made, and the tobaccos are harvested, is freakin' ridonkulous. There's some videos out there about it - check them out if you have time. You'll be floored, and you'll realize why the folks at CAO went through so much trouble over the past few years to create this amazing cigar.