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Staff Reviews for CAO VR

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CAO 'VR'

Posted by Brandon S

Well folks, another Thanksgiving is in the books! I hope you all enjoyed your time with friends and family and I certainly hope you found time to enjoy that all-important Thanksgiving Day cigar! I know I did…3 in fact. Funny though, of the cigars I had selected for my Thanksgiving enjoyment the one that stood out head and shoulders above the others was none other than the CAO ‘VR’. I packed my humi with a few select personal favorites and grabbed a few of my VR’s for that inevitable request from my wife’s cousin, “hey man, did you bring any extras?” (you know how that story goes, right?) and off we headed to the in-laws for a day of gorging, imbibing and stories about family members I’ve never met. When said conversation ensued I was only too happy to volunteer to head outside and operate the old turkey fryer for an hour knowing this would be a prime opportunity to light up a cigar and enjoy the peace and quiet of a beautiful fall day. I left my smokes inside but had a spare humi packed in the car and after managing to the get the turkey-fryer fired up I snuck off to the car and grabbed me a CAO ‘VR’ Moby, clipped the foot and lit’er up.

Truly a cigar that can be described as pretty, the ‘VR’ is as oily as it is dark and oh so toothy. I’ve had this box since we received our first shipment back in June of ’07 and the additional aging has done wonders to the tobacco within. Off the start the first few draws are creamy and rich with distinct chocolaty undertones and a sweet finish. I should mention that the ‘VR’ is manufactured by the famed Torano family whose attention to detail and focus on producing a quality product is second to none. So it came as no surprise that after two inches in the burn was as straight as could be with an ash as solid as concrete. Reaching the 1/3 mark some peppery “tinglies” are noticeable on the front and sides of my mouth as the Moby begins to change a bit and pick up some strength. The fryer finally reached 350 so I grabbed the bird and dropped it in. If you’ve never fried a turkey I highly recommend trying it at least once. It’s surprisingly violent and rather amusing to watch the entire pot shake. As I continued smoking my Moby I began thinking of what else I could chuck into the old fryer just for grins… When I finally refocused my attention back on the ‘VR’ I realized that it had mellowed tremendously. The spice and tinglies were gone. In their place rich, leathery notes of chocolate and coffee coated my palate leaving me wanting more but alas, the end was near.

As the evening wore on I smoked the remaining two Moby’s that I had brought along with me enjoying the same experience each time. Ironically I readily gave up some much pricier smokes to friends and family just so I could keep the CAO’s for myself. Just goes to show you that you don’t have to spend a bundle to get a damn fine smoke!

CAO 'VR' Full Fathom Five

Posted by Steve R

I have to be honest with you. I haven’t burned a CAO ‘VR’ Full Fathom Five in a long time. Actually, it might have been since its initial release 2 years ago – this cigar was initially produced in a limited production run of just 500 boxes (each hand signed by Tim Ozgener), and they sold very quickly. Fortunately, I secured 2 boxes before it sold out. Well, this 5.5”x55 box-pressed cigar has returned to the CAO ‘VR’ lineup, much to the delight of the hundreds that sent in emails asking for more. Today, the reason why I am burning this cigar is because it is part of September’s Cigar of the Month selection. That right there is some insider info for all the members – scary part is, this cigar ain’t even the ‘best’ in the bunch! So, I thought I’d double-dip on this cigar and bang out a Staff Review and the newsletter write-up. Efficiency. Cutting costs on cigars and saving time....please tell my boss!

The Full Fathom Five was the first of CAO’s 5.5”x55 box-pressed vitolas. The cigar was a huge success, which quickly spawned the same vitola in CAO’s Brazilia, Italia, and Mx2 lines. However, it is the original that still maintains the limelight due to the rich, amplified flavors it brings to the table.

As I said before, CAO ‘VR’ Full Fathom Five is a 5.5”x55 cigar finished with a soft, “Spanish” box-press format. The thicker ring creates room for more of the bold Nicaraguan and Honduran long-fillers utilized by this blend, promoting more complexity and a slower, cooler burn. Despite the additional tobaccos, the dark Brazilian Brazilian Arapiraca wrapper hardly plays second fiddle....which makes me happy because I love this leaf.

The cigar opens with a dense blast of toast and pepper, but the finish is surprisingly smooth and clean. This smooth aftertaste hints of a mellow bouquet to come. Would you know it....the cigar mellows almost instantly. The spice is all but gone, allowing the palate to detect subtle complexities with each puff. The toastiness remains, but I am picking up a rich, leathery element, dark tobacco flavors, and a touch of cedar. After the first inch the spice returns as I exhale, tickling the back of my palate. This spice is delayed though, allowing me to fully appreciate the other flavors at play. The leathery influence grows more intense as I approach the halfway point.

Note: if you’ve ever wanted to know what people mean by ‘leather,’ CAO ‘VR’ is a great way to discover this flavor. It’s almost unmistakable.

I’d like to touch on the wrapper a bit. In my opinion, the Brazilian Arapiraca leaf produces one of the finest maduros out there. The flavor and smoke texture it creates is genuine maduro. The smoke hits your palate in a heavy, chewy fashion. The flavor is dark and toasty, showcases optimum balance between sweetness and spice. The aroma is dense with a deep charcoal-like scent. The leaf itself is thick and juicy....something you can really chew on without it breaking. To me, that’s a maduro wrapper....and that’s a part of the reason why I enjoy CAO ‘VR’.

So....we have a lot going on here. The smoke is chewy and thick. The flavor starts out peppery, only to mellow into a smooth, leathery core with rich notes of dark tobacco, cedar, sweet notes, and a touch of pepper on the finish. The aroma is charcoal-like goodness. Through the nose I pick up heavy spices and cedar. All this and I still have the final third to go. By this time my head is spinning a little bit. I think I am puffing on this chunkster too often – it burns far too slow for this.

People often ask me for CAO’s best maduro. I always say ‘VR.’ Don’t get me wrong, I love the Brazilia, but the Arapiraca wrapper on this ‘VR’ offers a level of flavor not found in most maduros. It’s just plain unique and I love it. If you want smooth and chocolatey....go with the Brazilia. Otherwise, take the ‘VR’ for a test drive. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

CAO Black 'VR'

Posted by Keith

We've been pushing for this blend for years, 4 years to be exact. Ever since the CAO Black was released, the gang here at CI has clamored and lobbied CAO for a juicy maduro like this to complement the original Black. The long wait has been well worth it, as the 'VR' has arrived....and they're fabulous. These beauties glisten with an oily sheen. I'm a sucker for a box-pressed finish, so I tend gravitate to the Full Fathom Five size (although this size is a one-time addition to the line). It looks like a candy bar, with its chocolate brown wrapper....and a pre-light sniff of the foot delivers a highly pleasurable blast of spice that awakens the senses - ahhhhh - making me thank the heavens above for all that's good and holy. Everone agrees, upon lighting and right on down to the nub the aroma is distinctly leathery while the slight but pronounced spice through the nose is undeniable. CAO Black 'VR' offers ample complexity. As it burns its merry way down the barrel of the cigar it consistently delivers a steady dose of cedar. It gets progressively heavier in body yet manages to retain its smooth and creamy core. The wrapper feels a bit wet, so a few days in a dry-box prior to smoking does it wonders, and if you can be patient a few months of additional box-aging will turn a highly enjoyable smoke into a supremely pleasurable one. I love it - and there's little doubt that 'VR' is going to be a major horse in the CI stable.

CAO Black 'VR'

Posted by Steve R

Discovering a precious new handmade can go one of two ways:

Yet another cigar is added to your ever-growing list of favorites.

The cigar itself increases your appreciation for something as simple and ordinary as a tobacco leaf, and how lucky we are to have cigar makers born with the uncanny talent of creating something extraordinary.

Looking back, I can probably count on one hand the number of cigars that resulted in the latter. Gurkha Centurian Double-X, 5 Vegas Series ‘A’, Edicion de Silvio and now CAO Black ‘VR’. Yes, this is a bold statement and many of you will probably call BS. Fine by me, I rarely lose a drinking game.

For nearly 2 years, Tim Ozgener has been teasing us with his idea of the CAO Black ‘VR’, an extension of CAO’s original masterpiece wrapped in their beloved Brazilian maduro leaf. Pictures of the product were sent as teasers, whetting our palates before an unexpected box made its way to Bethlehem just last week. After the backyard brawl on the loading docks, I managed to slip away with 6 sticks and hastily ran back to my desk to light up.

CAO sent a box of 20 Full Fathom Five, the only box-pressed vitola in the line measuring 5.5” x 55. Heavy in the hand with one of the oiliest maduro wrappers I’ve ever seen, cutting this beauty practically hurt. The wrapper is Brazilian Maduro Arapiraca. I’m not quite sure what that means but, based on the pre-light flavor and aroma, I don’t think I’ll care much once we get going. Inside, a mixture of Nicaraguan and Mexican tobaccos resides and the foot of the cigar shows dark hints of ligero...nice.

Instantly upon lighting, definitive coffee notes rush the palate with a rich, creamy blast. The exhale is milky smooth, even through the nose. Allow the cigar to burn a half an inch and the coffee flavor mellows, giving way to a delicious, leathery core. (If you’ve ever wanted to know what ‘leather’ tastes like in a cigar, this here ‘VR’ is a great example.) Despite the thickness and oily texture, the wrapper burns extremely even, producing a strong, white ash with little to no flaking. A rich sweetness smacks the front of the palate and lingers just long enough to keep you satisfied while this slow-burning beauty rests in your ashtray. All this, and we haven’t even reached the midway point. Remember that ligero? If not, you will when there’s just 3 inches left, at which point the smoke becomes notably stronger and a peppery layer of flavor enters the fold. The spice hardly dominates, but you’ll notice it and hopefully agree, it pairs perfectly with the rich, coffee flavors and leathery backbone. The finale is bold and satisfying, bringing all of these wonderful nuances together in a well-balanced manner. What a ride.

After smoking all 6 samples in 2 days, I can truly say this is an amazing cigar. Everything about it is high-class, right down to the packaging and presentation. Well done, CAO.