Friday, July 28, 2006

CAO CX2 Toro
Size: 6.0 x 54
Wrapper/Binder: African Cameroon
Filler: Nicaraguan & Columbian
Price: $9.10

Introduced in 2005, I got to try the CX2 for free as part of an internet product launch. (It also came with a stylish knit cap, which I promptly lost jetboating in New Zealand.) The CX2 moniker means "Cameroon times two" because this cigar sports both a Cameroon wrapper and binder. Usually, I don't like "cammies" because they are too fragile, but maybe because of the double wrap, this one did not have problems with the ultra-thin leaf tearing or splitting. At any rate, it was a definite improvement over the CAO L'Anniversaire Cameroon, which I reviewed a few weeks ago.

CAO is perhaps the most successful of the johnny-come-lately cigar companies from the Big Boom (1990's). They have smothered the press magazines, catalogs, and internet sites with slick, trendy, urban ad campaigns. Their products score well in blind taste tests. They have a very high-profile tv tie-in with the Sopranos brand (although I read somewhere the cast of Sopranos actually smokes Macanudos on set). And every B&M I've visited has carried at least one CAO line.

CAO's are always overpriced, sometimes by a lot, but I can't resist the odd single every once in a while. So far, I've tried the Gold, Brazilia, Cameroon Legend, and CX2. The CX2 has a little more flavor--or character, if you will--then the Gold or Cameroon Legend, but it lacks the potent bouquet of the Brazilia. All CAO's seem to share some common traits: a mild flavor, near flawless construction, and a creamy-smooth smoking experience.

But the CX2 also fails where the others fail: no sophistication. From the touch of the flame to the snub in the ashtray, the CX2 was consistent almost to the point of mild blandness. It exhibited no subtle changes of flavor, no striking finish on the tongue, not even a small hot kick at the end.

So, to sum: CX2 is enjoyable, yes, but from a $9 cigar, I expect a little more uniqueness.

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