It’s been a while since I picked up a CAO MX2, but I’ve been in a maduro state of mind lately so I decided to fire one up and see if they’re as good as I remember. The SLR Serie G was a good cigar, but I remembered the MX2 as having a little more complexity. I’m comparing the two because they’re both “double maduros,” meaning they employ maduro leaves for both binder and wrapper.
It’s no surprise that the MX2 is more complex simply because there are no less than six different types of leaf used. The wrapper leaf is the traditional maduro leaf — Connecticut broadleaf. But beneath this is a binder from the Mata Fina region of Brazil. CAO has not been afraid to use Brazilian leaf, having used it with the Brazilia (which has a delicious Arapiraca wrapper) and the Sopranos edition (a more delicate Mata Fina.) For whatever reason, Brazil seems to get a bad rap in the cigar department even though it is South America’s top producer of black tobacco. Maybe the trick is in the blend — here CAO blends the maduro binder and wrapper with leaves from Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru, and the Dominican Republic. Tim Ozgener says there is Italian and Mexican leaf in the blend as well. That’s one smokin’ buffet!
CAO’s MX2 was introduced in 2003 and according to Ozgener it was the first “double maduro” cigar. Previously this term referred to extra-dark maduro colored wrappers (aka oscuro) but the MX2 was the first to use two maduro leaves in the blend. Sometimes “maduro” is used as a color designation but here it refers to the result of a lengthy fermentation process that goes into making a true maduro leaf.
The MX2 is a rough looking cigar: the wrapper is thick and presents an imposingly dark exterior. There was a time when maduro cigars were primarily made from corona or medio tiempo leaves — the strongest, thickest leaves at the top of the plant. The result was a very strong cigar. This isn’t so true any more– there are plenty of mild to medium bodied maduros that use less potent wrappers — but the reputation lives on. But if I were inclined to believe that darker is stronger I would be wary of this cigar.
One of the characteristics of good binder leaf is that it promotes an even burn, so using a thick, oily, heavily fermented maduro binder is a challenge. To the blender’s credit, the MX2 burns beautifully. I had no problem with lighting this stout robusto and it burned perfectly evenly with a very comfortable draw.
It starts up with a touch of spice and some woody flavors. The smoldering layers of maduro produce a sweet and pleasing aroma. As the cigar builds a solid ash the flavor turns from wood to earth but becomes gradually ashy. I enjoyed the fragrance of this smoke more than the flavor, which starts out with some promise but eventually concentrates on a sweet char that tastes kind of like burnt barbeque. It’s something I’d rather smell than taste, to be honest.
What I love about this cigar is the aroma and the fine construction, and now that I think about it that’s what I remember liking about the last one I smoked a few months ago. Unfortunately, I’m not really sold on the flavor. It’s also a very dry, mouth-puckering cigar that doesn’t inspire much salivation. Make sure you have a drink handy if you’re going to try one of these.
As for me, the taste buds have voted. All 10,000 of them. The MX2 is a fine cigar, but when I want a double maduro I’ll stick with my trusty Cusano 18 Paired Maduro.