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.