Discovering a precious new handmade can go one of two ways:
1.) Yet another cigar is added to your ever-growing list of favorites.
2.) 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.