Changes on the way…Stay tuned

As we continue to expand and grow I have decided to bring on some help. If you are not yet a member of our Facebook group, hit us up and join the club. I will be bringing on reviews from other people to keep content coming. I am also working with a couple of people to bring in reviews of craft beer and spirits (mainly whiskey/bourbon). My goal is to bring as much content to you as possible and keep thing interesting.

If you have any suggestions on content you would like to see, please feel free to reach out here and let me know. I look forward to what’s next and I hope you will keep up the support.

Thanks for the support! Long ashes and full glasses friends!

A trip to the Amazon…

I saw the CAO Amazon Basin a few months back and I was super hesitant to pick one up. For me personally, CAO has been asleep at the wheel in terms of new blends and creations. They have some cigars that I enjoy but to truly say they have cigars that I just keep going back to, no. They have been in need of something new and different for some time in my opinion. Regardless, I did pick one up and had it in my humidor for probably 3 months or so now. I decided to review it today and I am regretting my previous decisions now.

Let’s take a look at the CAO Amazon Basin

Blend Profile:

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Brazilian  Amazon Braganca 40% and Nicaraguan

Size: 6 x 52 Toro

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This cigar is produced by CAO and General Cigar company and because this tobacco is very rare, it is only produced every 3 years. Only 5,000 lbs (roughly) of the Braganca tobacco was purchased so this is a very limited production cigar.

Appearance: This is a rugged, dark brown, oily, toothy cigar with nice veins and tight seams. It is bumpy in spots but is firm with no soft spots anywhere. There are braided strands of tobacco that form the “band” around the cigar. They are on there pretty tight so removing them may become a chore. This is a rustic looking stick with a lot of character.

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Pre-Light: I pick up notes of hay, earth, pepper, sweet cedar wood and dried fruit. From the foot I pick up hay, cedar, pepper and earth. Using a V-cutter, the cold draw is smooth with a little bit of resistance. I get notes of hay, slightly floral or grassy notes, leather, and a slight citrus twist. This is a really intriguing combo. Not what I expected.

1st Third: Using matches to kick things off and we are good and toasted, I get a flavor overload and I struggle to figure out what the hell is going on. So many different things hitting my taste buds from every angle. I can definitely pick out sweet cedar, mesquite wood, leather, cocoa, and a grassy maybe basil like spice undertone. As I get into it a bit further, I pick up coffee bean, a woodsy blend of different woods (mostly oak, cedar and mesquite), some citrus notes and earth. This is a super complex blend with a overload of combos. The draw is a little resistant but not bad, the burn is a bit wavy but of no concern. Lots of smoke coming off of this cigar. I am really blown away by the flavor combinations and complexity. Not at all what I expected. I want to put it down but struggle as I try unsuccessfully to pinpoint each different flavor.

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2nd Third: As I make the transition into the halfway mark, the blend changes a bit and I get more black pepper, some grassy notes, hay, earth and cedar. Still very good but not nearly as complex as it first started. It is a very intriguing blend profile and I am still trying to nail down certain things. The draw and burn remain the same. I did touch it up once mainly to straighten out the burn that got a bit out of line. It is very gusty outside today so that isn’t helping. The ash does not hold on past a half inch or so. The wind could be effecting it but twice it dropped on me pretty quickly.

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Final Third: Moving into the last third, things change up a bit again. There is a bit more spice and red pepper towards the back end. It is still very woodsy and notes of cocoa blend nicely with the wood and grassy notes. As I make my way towards the end of this cigar, I am deeply regretting not picking up more of these. 3 years is a long time for a new release and I could have used a box of these to get me through. I tried with no success to remove the braided tobacco band so I used a razor blade to cut through them and extend the life of this smoke a bit.

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Final Thoughts: I really had no expectations from this cigar going in. As stated, CAO has not really been on my radar over the past couple of years. I was hopefully but cautious and man was I shocked when I put flame to foot. The complexity of this cigar really blew my mind. I could not really pinpoint any one exact thing before another flavor begged for attention. I would have loved for the profile of the first third to carry through the entire cigar as it was my favorite third but the rest was solid. I was not disappointed by this cigar at all. As stated I am on the hunt for more so if anyone comes across some they want to part with or let me know, I would appreciate it greatly.

I forgot to mention in the review but this was a solid medium strength, full flavored cigar. It was smooth, flavorful, performed well and at the end I was left wanting more. You can never go wrong with that. I would certainly smoke more if I can get my hands on them. If you can find them, grab em!

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Pairing and time: As always, when I try a cigar for the first time I always drink water. I would pair this cigar with a bourbon, or scotch. The woodsy profile would really compliment the wood in a bourbon like Woodford Reserve. I would be very interested in pairing this with a nice glass of Lagavulin. Total time with this stick was right over 2 hours.

So there you have it. I wish I had done this review sooner and grabbed more. Keep this one on your radar for the next release. If they keep things the same or close, I will grab a box for sure. I am always open to donations or trades if you find some. Lol.

Working on something Warped and an interview with a beautiful SOTL that will be released soon. Until next time, long ashes and full glasses friends. Peace!

Mixing pleasure with business…Arizona

So I had the opportunity this week to travel to Phoenix/Scottsdale to speak and be part of a panel at a work conference. It was a really nice honor to be selected and after a long day of travel, I arrived in paradise. I was fortunate enough for my wife to travel and meet me there and combine some vacation days in after the conference. Coming from Pa and getting to Az after the cold we have been having was certainly a blessing. Being from the south, I am a lot more partial to warm than cold.

I arrived at the airport Tuesday (3 hour time difference made for a long day) and my wife instructed me to meet her at the rental car center. Off to the shuttle I go to arrive to a bright red, Camaro convertible SS with 4k miles! Now I would never own this car, but as a rental for the week in the desert, oh hell yes I will! Off to the JW Marriot to check into our room. This place is simply majestic. Set at the foot of the mountains, this is an oasis of scenery and upscale living. This was proven later with the clientele for the restaurant and seeing the exotic car show in the parking lot. Super friendly staff, super clean and the food was great.

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Being a cigar guy obviously high on my priority of things to see and do was to visit local shops. Unfortunately for me, that didn’t work out exactly like I planned but…I did bring cigars and I did get to visit 2 local spots. Smoke and Joe (cigars and coffee, well done) and Ford on Fifth. For those of you that are on Instagram and Twitter you probably know FTB_Melanie and FTB_Anthony Cantelmo, Ford on Fifth is their shop. More to come on that.

After a successful conference on Wed and a wonderful fully catered dinner in the garden, I found a fellow cigar aficionado and he presented me with the offer of, you bring the cigars and I will buy the drinks. You sir have a deal! I enjoyed a Padron 1926 Maduro and a nice bourbon and he a Balmoral Anejo XO and scotch. After trying the Lagavulin he was having, I decided I needed to have some of that as well. That was my first time with that and I was not disappointed. Super smokey and a great pairing with the Padron I was having.

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Thursday was an early start and 5 hour drive up to Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend in Page, AZ. WOW! I can’t begin to describe in words how breathtaking the scenery was there. Pics are nice but can’t even come close to the real life experience. After a long day of hiking, tours and moments of deep thought, we drove the 5 hours back, convertible top down, music cranked and cruising through some beautiful desert landscape.

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Friday was open to whatever so we went to some local spots to sight-see and do the tourist thing. As we were driving, my wonderful wife noticed Smoke and Joe and asked if I wanted to stop, I almost flipped the car doing a u turn to get there. Lol. Ok Not really but yes I did indeed want to stop. What a cool place. I should have gotten pictures but with jet lagged, time change, busy schedule and overall drag assing that was going on, I just wanted to smoke. My wife was kind enough to replace my Padron 1926 Maduro and bought me 2 house blends and the Full Metal Jacket cigar. Got to love it when the wife takes such great care of you! We sat outside and I enjoyed a L’atelier Limited Edition while talking with the owner for a few minutes. He is a pilot with Southwest and opened the cigar lounge. Nice selection, the lady at the counter was super friendly, the private lounge seemed very nice and the coffee bar was a nice touch.

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After that nice break, it was off to do some more sightseeing and photos. We found ourselves near Ford on Fifth so I decided to stop in and see if Anthony was around. He was not so I was a little bummed about that but no fear, the guy working at the time (I did not catch his name) was more than helpful in pointing me to the long time eluded Deliverance Nocturne that I have been searching for. Score! I picked up some of those and a Mi Querida from Steve Saka and Dunbarton Tobacco. Steve was there on Tuesday night and unfortunately I missed him. I hoped to make it back later that evening to have a smoke but that didn’t play out. Ford on Fifth has some history behind it and has a small lounge and a nice humidor with a nice selection and a outdoor sitting area in the front.

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We headed out to our next adventure which was a sunset electric bike tour through the desert. What a cool concept and oh what a trip! The trails were a fun challenge, the views were terrific, the knowledge about the plants, desert, area etc was super interesting. A side from a brief encounter with a very large and very pissed off rattlesnake, we had a great trip. I highly recommend taking the tour if you ever visit. Hit me up and I will get you the info. Our tour guide was great and did a great job of getting video and photos on top of a great tour.

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We tried out a place called the Wild Thaiger we saw on Diners, Drivein’s and Dives for dinner. Very good Thai food and worth checking out. After a full week and an early start on Saturday of travel, sadly it was time to put Az behind us for now.

I say for now because my wife and I truly fell in love with the state. It is certainly on the top of our list for places to move. If I can make that work in the future, I certainly will do so. Until then, we will have to rely on photos and memories. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it. I know this isn’t that much about cigars but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. Feel free to drop comments or suggestions.

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