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Review of CAO Criollo Cigars

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C.A.O. Criollo Cigars

C.A.O. Criollo Cigars

2007 © Dr. Mitch Fadem Licensed to About.com, Inc.
The Criollo Cigars are in my opinion, one of the best Nicaraguan puros on the market today. A ‘puro’ cigar is made of tobacco completely from one country, in this case, Nicaragua (wrapper, binder, filler). C.A.O. has them available in 6 sizes and/or shapes:
  • Conquistador (Spanish - conqueror) – 6 1/8” length x 52 ring gauge
  • Bomba (Spanish - bomb) – 6” x 50
  • Mancha (Spanish – spot) – 5 5/8” x 46
  • Pato – (Spanish – drake) – 4 7/8” x 50
  • Pampa – (Spanish – great plains) – 4” x 40
  • Pampas – (Spanish – grasslands) – 4” x 38
Depending on the size you can get a box of 20 from $75 to $125, a 5 pack from $25 to $35 or a tin of the Pampas (5 to a tin) for $8 to $10. Singles will vary in price as well but are almost always 10% to 30% higher per stick.

Flavor

This is a mild to medium cigar and an excellent choice for the beginner. As an experienced smoker I wanted to try these because it offered a respite from the heavier cigars I am used to. Criollo in Spanish literally means a nursling or seedling and in this case it truly fits the definition. The tobacco for these cigars came from plants grown from original Cuban seeds solely in Nicaragua. The flavor was great right from the start. Initially there are floral hints, the taste of chestnuts, coffee, and a subtle sweetness. Halfway through a slight peppery flavor crept in and built slowly to a nice finish. The Criollo’s are also full of great aromas like mushrooms and cedar. It also reminded me of the campfires we had when I was kid, that and the fact that all my Mom’s cousins were in the backyard puffing on stogies.

Draw and Construction

The wrapper is a nice deep brown color and a matching label to give it an ‘Old World’ look. The pigtail cap was perfect for a nice cut from my cigar scissors. The draw is very easy and the cigar is tightly rolled. The burn is perfectly even from start to finish and the ash stayed on all the way to the mid-point of the cigar. All of the C.A.O. Criollo’s smoked were very consistent which speaks well to their quality and construction. The smallest of them, the Pampas, just as enjoyable as it larger versions, will last 30 minutes or 40 if you choose to smoke them down to 1”. These cigars all smoked ‘cool’ right to the end.

Value

The C.A.O. Criollo cigars are an excellent value, especially the little Pampas. Buying a tin for $10 is a great way to introduce your self to this high quality Nicaraguan puro allowing you to smoke several for a fraction of the cost of the larger ones (and the tin travel well). The Pampas will allow you to decide if you want to extend your Criollo smoking experience and step up to a Pato, Bomba or Conquistador. On the other hand, if you prefer cigars with a smaller ring gauge the Pampa and Mancha will not disappoint you. This is a very complex cigar and a great offering for smokers of any level. For those of you with wives (or significant others) and would like to introduce them to the aromas before you light up, try grilling some shitake mushrooms over cedar ship and fresh twigs. If they like that they will love the C.A.O. Criollo’s.
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