Thursday, February 01, 2007

CAO Criollo-Mancha
Size: 5.5 x 46
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Criollo
Filler: Nicaraguan Puro
Price: $6

Shaun gave me one of these, and the first thing I noticed was the small pigtail at the peak of the cap. Despite the frivolous appearance, it turned out to be one of the best CAO cigars I've had (much better than the Gold, Cameroon, or the CX2. On par, perhaps, with the Brazilia). Even though it only had a medium-body strength, this cigar has a very spicy taste. It reminded me of the other cigars I've tried with a criollo wrapper, the La Perla Habana Black Pearl Cobres. Except the CAO was much spicier on the tongue, without any alternating sweet flavors to balance it out. It blended fantastically with a glass of Glennfiddich 15-Year Old single malt. If there was a negative, the draw was just a tad too tight but this was a very minor annoyance that did not impede my experience at all.

After I smoked this, I began wondering, what is a criollo wrapper? It is a tobacco strain selectively developed by Cuban scientists in the Pinar del Rio region. It is aged four years, and is notoriously delicate to handle. (The CAO Criollo is Nicaraguan-grown Cuban-seed leaf). Interestingly, the popular Corojo (red) wrapper was developed in Cuba after the criollo because cigar makers were looking for a more durable, less expensive alternative.

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