The CAO brand holds a special place in my heart. In the early 2000s, as an amateur looking for his first cigar, the bright green and yellow of the CAO Brazilia caught my eye. I mean, how could it not? And fortunately, my choice paid off. I picked up a few sticks and never looked back. Now, nearly decades later, I’m picking up CAO Nicaragua with the same youthful excitement I had in the past. How can this possibly live up to expectations?
In terms of looks, CAO Nicaragua isn’t much of a departure from Brazilia (or any of the other “World Series”). Even so, it feels so fresh. How it took so long to incorporate Nicaragua into this series is anyone’s guess, but it’s long overdue…and welcome. The core of the blend are well-aged long-fillers from the Jalapa Valley, Esteli, and Condega. This beauty is then finished with a smooth, dark Honduran Jamastran wrapper leaf. Ok, CAO. You’ve passed the looks test. Now let’s fire it up…
Lighting up the Tipitapa size (4.8”x50), I’m met with a smooth spice and notes of cedar and earth. As the cigar progresses, the spice subsides a bit and the cedary and earthy notes become more pronounced with additional notes of almonds coming through. Damn, this thing is good.
What struck me the most is the cigar’s balance. I burned down three sticks for this review. The first cigar I finished felt like it only lasted 15 minutes. In reality, it was closer to 45 minutes. I wanted more. Nay, I needed more! And that’s what makes this so great. You can sit around with a more complex - and more expensive - blends and fret over the subtle changes and seemingly made up tasting notes (see: strawberry milk, ketchup, or Sour Cream & Onion Pringles). But that’s not what CAO Nicaragua is. It’s a cigar that allows you to get lost in your thoughts, sit back, and most importantly: relax. After all, isn’t that what cigars were made for?