CAO did a great job of promoting their new America line of cigars, prior to the cigar's actual release in October 2007. I have to admit that this was one cigar that I was looking forward to smoking, almost as much as my first Cuban cigar (while traveling in Canada during the early 1990's).
Part of the enjoyment of being a cigar connoisseur is anticipating the experience of smoking a special cigar for the very first time. And there are a number of things that make the CAO America special, including its looks, its patriotic appeal, and the fact that it actually contains some American filler tobacco in the blend, along with two wrapper leaves
grown in Connecticut. The cigar is considered to be pinstriped, as opposed to barber pole style, because of the amount of natural wrapper leaf that is exposed underneath the overlying maduro wrapper leaf. As part of the cigar's introduction, CAO posted a video on youtube
showing how the cigar is rolled with two wrappers.
CAO America cigars were initially available in three shapes and sizes
: Potomac (5" x 56), the torpedo-shaped Monument (6 ¼" x 54), and Landmark (6" x 60). Later, two more sizes were added: Constitution (6 x 50) and Bottle Rocket (7 x 50). CAO America is made with both Connecticut Shade and Broadleaf wrappers, a Brazilian binder
, and 100% ligero filler tobaccos
from Nicaragua, Italy, U.S.A., and the Dominican Republic. CAO provided me with the Monument and Potomac sizes, which I smoked for this review. These cigars come with both a patriotic-looking band
, and a second smaller band on the foot of the cigar (which must be removed before lighting). The cigars are visually appealing, and are not just appropriate for patriotic holidays
, since the pinstripe effect makes them stand out from most other cigars, no matter when or where you decide to enjoy them.
The CAO America is a medium-to-full flavor cigar, but some consider it to be full flavored. Although it is not overpowering in strength, it is still more appropriate for experienced cigar smokers, as opposed to beginners. The cigar has a deep rich tobacco flavor, which is not too earthy in taste. I don't think that any cigar could live up to the amount of hype surrounding this cigar, but nonetheless, the cigar is still very good, but I would not consider the taste to be exceptional.
Draw and Construction
Again, CAO America cigars are very appealing to the eye, and are well made for having two wrappers rolled together to create the pinstripe effect. Sometimes, a cigar made with two wrappers will not burn perfectly, if one wrapper burns faster than the other. This was not a major issue with the CAO America, but my Monument size cigar did require a couple of touchup lights, just to keep it burning evenly. The Potomac size cigar required one relight after dropping its first long ash, and the cigar took about 45 minutes to smoke. I spent about an hour smoking the Monument size cigar down to two inches. Both cigars had near perfect draws, providing a nice volume of smoke.
If purchased in a box of 20 cigars or in a 5-pack, CAO America cigars can run between $6 and $8 per stick, depending on which of the five sizes purchased (and where you buy them). You may have to pay significantly more for a single stick. These are not everyday cigars, but they are competitively priced for special cigars to be enjoyed on patriotic holidays and/or other special occasions. As one of a handful of unique cigars (such as the Opus X
) recommended for special occasions, the CAO America might even be considered a bargain when compared to the others. But as a regular smoke, better values are available.