CAO made news recently when it was acquired by the ST Cigar Group, a Dutch company and one of the largest cigar companies in Europe. Cigar companies live precarious lives, it seems. The big fish are always looking to swallow up the little ones, and the bigger fish are getting fatter all the time. We are lucky though that the competition remains the same, and overall quality in the cigar market remains very high. This CAO Black is no exception.
This is the original, the one and only CAO Black label, the first CAO to carry those initials. At first it was not a success for Cano Ozgener, founder of CAO. It fell by the wayside and the CAO Maduro became CAO’s first hit cigar. But the Black label was not entirely forgotten, and in 2002 it was reintroduced at the suggestion of Cigars International.
The wrapper is an Ecuadorian grown Connecticut seed leaf, accompanied by a Honduran binder, and filler from Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico. The Bengal is a toro sized 6 x 50. The Black label cigars are presented in cedar sheaths with black ribbon at the foot, very similar to the Arturo Fuente Sun Grown Chateaus.
The wrapper is an attractively even cafe color with a touch of leathery roughness. The cap is neatly applied and appears to be double wrapped. It cuts cleanly away and reveals a generous but firm draw.
The burn is uneven from the start, but the flavors are very nice — a slight bite of spice at first, followed by lots of cedar. After an inch the smoke becomes quite creamy. I’ve heard this cigar called mild, but my experience is that it’s more of a medium in body.
Then there’s some more cedar, followed by cedar with an earthy touch. Here and there is a dash of pepper thrown in as an accent to the solid flavor of cedar. I found the CAO Black to be a fine cigar, if somewhat one dimensional. With a price point around $4.oo a stick, I can see how this could be a goto everyday kind of cigar for a lot of people.
Did I mention the cedar?