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Staff Reviews for CAO Black

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CAO Black

Jeff K

CAO is a brand that makes a ton of great cigars, has accrued a lion’s share of 90+ ratings, and developed a devoted fan base of die-hard CAO nuts. Their cigars are definitely some of the best on the market today. A personal favorite of mine has always been the CAO Black. This is the unequivocal “everybody” or “anytime” cigar. It’s mild and smooth enough to light up right at the crack of dawn, but it also has more than enough flavor and complexity to be enjoyed after a full meal or over drinks. It’s the essential, universal humidor staple. Best part is, they are consistent as hell and reasonably priced.

The packaging is noteworthy. The boxes are hand painted with a Jackson Pollock-esque paint splattering – a nice touch. Packaged in wooden boxes of 20, each cigar comes individually cedar wrapped.

The wrapper - It’s a Connecticut-seed grown in Ecuador, but it is unlike any other Connecticut wrappers out there. Dark-brown, even colored and astoundingly smooth, this wrapper is a sight. The binder is a Nicaraguan Habano, which adds some oomph. Its 3-country filler blend is well aged for smoothness and diverse for complexity. With long-filler tobaccos from Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico, CAO Black is well proportioned and meticulously blended for optimal smoothness, flavor and complexity.

From beginning to end, CAO Black is smooth, impressively smooth. The flavor profile isn’t overly flamboyant, but it is loaded with rich, natural tobacco notes. With some cigars, I get a ton of different distinct flavors – which I like most of the time. But CAO Black offers something a bit more traditional. It tastes like a cigar – pure, natural tobacco. I definitely get some notes of cedar, cream, and pepper accompanied by a clean, semi-sweet finish, but nothing too intense of overwhelming. Its mellow and easygoing from start to finish, but the flavor is defined and always present. Medium-bodied, refined, elegant and not overdone.

This may not become your favorite cigar (although it very well may), but they do have a place in your humidor. When I buy a box, its always seems to be empty pretty quickly.

CAO Man O' War


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.

CAO Black


Unquestionably this is my favorite CAO blend. The packaging is unique - the boxes are unlike any you've seen. Stark black all around, snow white lids, and the top strewn with black paint like some kind of Jackson Pollock piece you'd see at the Museum of Modern Art (having seen the laborious process of painting these boxes in the Honduran box factory, I can tell you that it is quite a sight). Crack the box open and you've got more eye candy: lovely cigars, each one draped in its own cedar sleeve, its Connecticut-seed Ecuadorian wrappers glistening with a nice oily sheen and super smooth texture. Ooooooh.

Upon lighting you get a load of spiciness and some sharpness on the tongue, but shortly after it takes a turn into a creamy vanilla-like smoothness. By no means one-dimensional, this somewhat complex blend develops and evolves as it burns from foot to nub. It's got character, depth of flavor, and a medium-bodied strength level that suits me perfectly. No fine print or qualifiers needed, I love it.

CAO Black

Brandon S

Originally the first cigar ever produced by Cano A. Ozgener the Black is back and in my opinion, it’s better than ever!

I keep an ample supply of these on hand at all times because quite frankly, I think they’re addictive. At home I have so many empty CAO Black boxes that at a quick glance it damn near looks like a Zebra standing next to my humidor!

The Black is a very well-rounded cigar that upon lighting it up will greet you with a quick dose of spiciness before settling down into a creamy, medium-bodied smoke at about the 1” mark. A little further into it and you begin to pick up distinct cedary notes that are a direct result of each cigar in the box being draped with a nice cedar sleeve. From here the Black slowly gains complexity, constantly changing and evolving throughout the remainder of the cigar. Over time I have settled on two specific sizes that I really enjoy; the 6X50 Toro size called the Bengal and the 6X52 Torpedo named Gothic. Both sizes are simply perfect for showcasing the dizzying array of flavors that this cigar is capable of producing. Come to think of it, the only down side (if you can call it that) is that the CAO Black is extremely limited in production. Just 6,000 boxes of each size were produced for the US market which means that it’s about time I stop writing and get myself set up with another coupla boxes!

CAO Black Man O' War

Steve R

I've been known to jump the gun on more than one occasion. Today marks another one of those occasions. The cigar I am smoking right now is a sample of something very special that's scheduled to arrive towards the end of May. The reason I decided to write about it is simple: I've been burning through these samples on a daily basis, and loving every single one.

The cigar is Man O’ War, a limited-production size within the CAO Black line. The size, a menacing 6”x60 super-toro. CAO sent us 50 samples. Of that number, I’ve had at least 30, and each one has offered everything I could possibly ask of my favorite CAO blend, CAO Black.

If you’ve tried CAO Black, consider this: Take everything this blend offers - the creamy texture, peppery aftertaste, vanilla undertones and buttery smooth character – and multiply it. Multiply it by 2, 3, whatever; just imagine more. That’s Man O’ War, ‘more’ CAO Black. A soothing hour and a half of sheer smoking delight.

Only 20,000 cigars were produced from CAO’s one-time alottment. To thin the inventory out a bit, these gentle giants have been set in boxes of 10. Indeed, Man O' War will turn some heads.

CAO Black


I've been under the weather for the past couple of weeks. My ass has been kicked with this ridiculous head cold that I just can't seem to shake. Where does phlegm come from anyway? Isn't it amazing that no matter how much you blow your nose or cough up a lung, your body produces more and more. One day, I finally gave in, got home early, and tried to get some rest. Unfortunately, Nickelodeon was having a "Welcome Back, Kotter!" marathon. A couple of hours later, I finally fell asleep and then I had this whacked out dream about cigars (not all that unusual I guess) but it was in the plot of a Welcome Back Kotter episode! Barbarino's uncle had a source for Cuban cigars, so me, Vinnie, and Epstein were trying to offload them for top dollar - until Mr. Woodman caught us and tried to have us arrested. Mr. Kotter saved the day, of course, convincing Mr. Woodman that we were budding entrepreneurs, didn't know they were Cubans, and should be commended for our efforts to start our own business. Man, sick dreams are weird.

Anyway, since I haven't been able to taste anything since New Year's Day, yesterday, over 2 weeks later, I finally picked up my first cigar. Now I've had 2 weeks to think "What is the first cigar I am going to smoke when I can actually smoke again?" I needed a good "Welcome Back" cigar. I've been itchin' to pick up one of those new CAO Blacks since they arrived in late December. The reviews have been phenomenal, truly exceptional, but you never know if you should attribute that to user excitement of a new line or is this the real deal? (Remember when the CAO Brazilia's came out - yowza, you couldn't find one anywhere - except CI of course!) So, in effort not to shock my system, I only smoked half a cigar last night - a couple of inches down just to prepare my pallet. I had a hard-time putting it down, but fear of a lung-hacking episode forced me to put it down! Tonight, I picked up a second CAO Black and it was pure heaven. Oh, it's good to be home again.

This cigar, the original CAO cigar, has been re-released with a Connecticut shade seed / Ecuadorian grown wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and fillers from Nicaragua, Honduras, and Mexico. With so many different tobaccos, you know that the blending by the aficionados at CAO is going to be second-to-none.

I read a review on another site back in December that had the following quote: "the CAO Black Label is the best cigar I have ever smoked in any price regardless of country of manufacture." Bold statement, for anyone - novice smoker or professional reviewer. Sure, everyone's taste is different, but any lineup by the folks at CAO, plus a raving endorsement, is reason enough to try it.

The initial light of this baby sparkles on your front tongue with a spicy, dry flavor lending the impression that this will be a powerhouse cigar. My guess is that this originates from Mexican filler in the blend. The first inch is much of the same, but then the Honduran and Nicaraguan tobaccos take over. It burns fast with tons of bellowing smoke. The next two inches begin the "smoothening" ritual of this quality cigar. The burn slows down, the spicy character fades, and a rich full body is softened by the flavorful, mild, and pleasant Connecticut shade wrapper. I don't care where a Connecticut wrapper is grown, I love the smooth and silky wrapper. The Ecuadorian-grown Connecticut is not nearly as pale and fragile as a typical Connecticut, but the flavor is superb. There isn't much deviation from there. A dry, woodsy character with a strong full body, yet mild to medium flavor on the palate.

The Black will hold your tastebuds and with solid construction that you can expect from the folks at CAO, you won't be disappointed. After a long time away, I'm back baby! So very back! And I can't think of a better way than to have a few more CAO Blacks and make my tastebuds jingle.

Many thanks to all of you that sent congratulatory notes to me over the past month. And thank you for sharing some of your personal stories and experiences. It was truly wonderful to hear from so many of you.

In case you're like me trying to remember the "Welcome Back, Kotter!" theme song, I did some research for ya'...

Welcome back, Your dreams were your ticket out.
Welcome back, To that same old place that you laughed about.
Well, the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they've turned around.
Who'dve thought they'd lead ya? (Who'dve thought they'd lead ya?)
Back here where we need ya? (Back here where we need ya?)
Yeah, we tease him a lot, Cuz we've got him on the spot. Welcome back.
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.