Reviews by Richard M.

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Gather in your own Center Square…

Richard M.

Cigar: CAO Zócalo
Size: Toro 6.2”x54
Burn Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

This cigar was first offered in 2018 as just the 6x60. So some people missed out on it because their preference is not for larger ring gauge cigars. But now, it is back in three sizes, being produced at the STG Factory in Esteli, Nicaragua.

This cigar wears a dark brown and rough wrapper with a rustic appearance, but feels well rolled, with no soft (or hard spots) and well balanced. The cap appears pretty large, leaving over a 1/16th of an inch after a guillotine cut.

The blend is unique to say the least. It features a Mexican Morrón wrapper from the San Andrés Valley, a Cameroon Binder and Nicaraguan long-fillers. If you have followed my 30 Second Reviews or the 30 Second/30 Minute reviews for any length of time, you know I love Cameroon Tobacco. Placing this as the binder on a stronger cigar makes for a unique complexity. I don’t think I pick up direct Cameroon notes, however what I do find in the beginning is warm baked buttered sweet bread. I once had a recipe to use in my bread maker for Portuguese Sweet bread, and this reminds me of that…I wish I knew where my recipe for that was…oh well. Now that butter note could definitely be the Cameroon binder, since that is a note I often associate with Cameroon. As a side note, speaking with Rick Rodriquez (the blender of this and many CAO cigars) in the past, it is not that he dislikes Cameroon tobacco, but as I remember it, it is far from his favorite.

After the sweet bread, there is a typical dry and spicy component I find with many San Andrés wrapped cigars. This is unfortunately polarizing for some, we find that typical San Andrés causes some to not even have a willingness to pick up the cigar. However, if you remember your tobacco history, Mexican San Andrés is the father leaf of all black tobacco, the specific type of tobacco used in nearly all premium cigars. There have been a few exceptions, but that is for another day. So since this is the genesis of all cigar tobacco, it should not be as divisive as it has been in the past.

As I entered the 2nd third of the cigar, I get what I can best describe as the crust of a brownie, chocolaty and charred. The baked bread is also more toast like now, and there may be a hint of citrus on the retro-hale. The burn line is pretty noticeable, it is straight, but noticeable, likely due to the thick Mexican wrapper. Without knowing the specifics of the filler tobaccos, I find it characteristic of Esteli and Jalapa, with the spice from the former, and the sweetness from the later. The retro-hale is very approachable, not overpowering at all, even with this being a medium plus cigar.

So, people ask what Zócalo means? Derived from the Mexican wrapper leaf, it is named after Mexico City’s Plaza del Zócalo, the city’s main square, popular for art and cultural displays as well as gatherings. This particular square goes back to the Aztec days. It is also fitting that it is named after the center square, a gathering place, since us cigar folks often gather to enjoy these works of art together.

Continuing on with the final third, I think the body of the cigar remains just above medium, about a 6 out of 10, with a full flavor profile continuing the spice as well as developing more earthiness and the citrus I thought I found in the middle has developed into full orange zest and floral on the retro-hale. The baked sweet bread returns toward the end, but I really have to “look” for it. So, I am not sure if I want the bread notes to be there since I enjoyed them so much in the beginning, or if they are not there, but I will just say it is there as an underlying note, especially noticeable on the medium finish.

I did not have an adult beverage with this cigar the first time I enjoyed it for this review, and I don’t have a beverage now. What I will say is that it would be my opinion you would want to go bold, maybe even a barrel or cask strength whiskey, or a higher proofed liquor, and if you go the non-whiskey route, maybe go sweet? I had Diet Coke both times…exciting.