Origin : Nicaragua
Format : Toro
Size : 6 x 52
Wrapper : Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler : Dominican Republic, Columbian, Brazilian Braganca
Binder : Nicaraguan
Blender : Rick Rodriquez
Price : ~$7 each
More info about purchasing CAO Amazon Basin cigars...
We’ve heard it all before… limited edition cigars made from scarce materials. Then, a year later, they are still readily available, everywhere. But in the case of the new CAO Amazon Basin, its rarity is only part of the intrigue. It’s truly a cigar with a story to tell. I was lucky enough to get one of the last available boxes, and now, four cigars in, consider myself lucky indeed.
According to the official CAO statement, the Amazon Basin cigar “utilizes rare organic tobacco cultivated at small farms in remote regions of the Amazonian Rainforest. The tobacco called ‘Braganca’ is grown in virgin lands and is harvested just once every three years…the leaves are rolled by hand into tubes called ‘carottes’, and left to rest under high pressure. After six months of natural fermentation inside the carrotes, they are transported by canoe from the rainforest and delivered to our factory.” Wow, that’s quite a story! One interesting aspect of cigar smoking is how we experience exotic locales through the tobaccos we smoke. And the Amazonian Rainforest is about as exotic as it gets. If nothing else, smoking an Amazon Basin cigar is a curiosity. But what I’ve discovered is a cigar so unique; it actually lives up to the hype.
One look at this cigar and you know it’s different. Instead of a paper band, the cigar is fashioned with a rope ring, neatly coiled around its Colorado Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. This gives the cigar an artisan look, and lets the smoker know he/she is entering unexplored territory. The CAO Amazon Basin boasts a five nation blend, and examining the foot, we see myriad tobaccos ranging from black to light brown. Judging from its intense, un-lit aroma, one could anticipate a rich smoking experience. The smell of licorice sweetness prevails, and the pre-lit draw foreshadows an earthy spice. To the touch, the wrapper is rough and thick, adding to the Amazon’s primitive presentation. CAO also maximizes the cigar’s primal aura with a box that looks like it came from a turn of the century Amazonian expedition.
Upon lighting you immediately taste a flavor profile like no other. With intense fruit and molasses, the CAO Amazon Basin delivers tremendous flavor and complexity. I’m not usually a fan of Brazilian tobacco, and earthy cigars can sometimes leave the taste of dirt in my mouth. But these cigars are well balanced, with just the right amount of earthiness. It’s got a raisin-like sweetness that compliments a rich tobacco flavor. Smoking further, the flavors meld, and become smooth and creamy. Midway to the nub, the Amazon gets smoother still, never developing that tar-like finish sometimes associated with cigars of intense earthiness. It appears that Rick Rodriguez, a Master Blender at General Cigars, was careful not to overload this blend with too much of what makes it unique.
Amazingly, the Amazon Basin is a fairly mild cigar. To get this much flavor from a stick usually requires lots of high priming, ligero tobacco. This can often mean cigars that knock you for a loop. But one can smoke this cigar in the morning, with no ill effects.
Much like a trip down the Amazon, this cigar offers wonders, but also danger. Every cigar I smoked had burn issues. All required multiple touchups, an annoyance that compromised my enjoyment of these otherwise wonderful cigars. I also discovered that, like the jungle itself, the Amazon Basin gets hot. I had to be careful to hold the sticks with the lit end pointing skyward. This allowed the cigar to burn cooler.
A true adventure
A cigar smoker is a vicarious traveler. We experience remote cultures with each cigar we smoke. In the CAO Amazon Basin, we travel into the deepest rainforest, and get a sense of having truly visited a different world. It’s a shame these cigars are so rare, but I guess that’s part of their allure. I’ll be sure to save one for the soon-to-be-announced Great Robustojoe Cigar Giveaway IV. My only regret is not having enough to pass around to every cigar smoker willing to make the voyage.