Let me say this right up front: CAO Black is a truly fantastic blend. I've sung its praises from sea to shining sea before so don't roll your eyes. It ain't just me! In fact 4 out of 5 dentists agree. But alas, a few unfortunate souls haven't yet been lucky enough to try it. To them my words may sound like the Amen chorus, but believe me brother when I tell you the Black is one of the best blends on the market. This is a cigar to be taken slow. Rush it and risk missing the varied and numerous subtleties and nuances, including pepper, creaminess, nuts, cedar and even notes of vanilla.
So when word spread of a new, limited production size called Man O' War, I was ready to bestow the wet, sloppy kiss of approval before it was even released. Just four weeks ago the eagle landed, precipitating a veritable feeding frenzy around CI headquarters. 2,000 boxes in total for the entire industry, handmade in a one-shot production run, and all sitting just 80 yards from where I am writing this. I feel like a fat man working in a donut shop.
A cool and stately 6"x60 size, this rather portly vitola is practically the Balthazar of the cigar world. But like Bill Russell, the Man O' War packs a finesse game in a big fella's body. Pre-light, there's a distinct salt and pepper flavor to the wrapper. After toasting I immediately find the thick ring of the Man O' War to tame the pepperiness of the Black blend and tone down the strength a touch....I'd go so far as to say it borders on mild to medium, rather than a true middleweight as are the other sizes. It boasts an ample creaminess, vanilla undertones, extraordinary smoothness, and pours forth with lovely clouds of gray smoke. The soft creamy flavors linger on the palate a moment before dissolving into a clean, crisp finish.
It's got great aging potential too, I'd recommend grabbing several boxes before they disappear. Smoke a few and put the rest away for a little nap.