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CAO Concert Solo (5.5 x 50) review

Punch and Draw have returned from the Rocky Mountain Cigar Fest with tickets for a Concert and are looking forward to how it plays out.

CAO Concert Solo cigar w background

Draw: Punch! Brother! Finally, an opportunity to sit down and enjoy some of our booty from the 2013 Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival in Boulder.

The RMCF metal sculpture. Photo courtesy Peter Hudson,

The RMCF metal sculpture. Photo courtesy Peter Hudson,

Punch: Yes, and what better way to mark the occasion than with our own private Concert.

D: Well, I dunno. I’m not feeling too musically inclined. But I would enjoy a good cigar!

P: Then let’s see if the CAO Concert is an opening-act or a headliner.

D: Mmm, right out of the cellophane, I’m getting stale sock. Also alfalfa. Let me rest this on my Macbook Pro exclusive cigar-warming zone….

P: I’m calling that an earthiness. It dulls the alfalfa – takes the edge off. Something like that.

D: Now that is a stiff punch. I needed to call security to get my tool back out of the cap!

P: I had to press so hard on my punch to get it through the cap that I was concerned about splitting it or otherwise damaging this nice stick. And my draw is really stiff, too… It may be over humidified. I was keeping it at 72%… I even made an overlapping punch beside the first one, to make a figure-eight, and no difference.

D: I agree. It’s quite tight. On the dry draw I’m getting mild woods, light woods, like balsa. Maybe a light cocoa, or maybe it’s more like carob….a touch of sweet.

P: My dry draw is yielding a slight sweetness – orange blossom.

D: I did a light toasting, but I didn’t get anything from it. It’s already dark out for me, so I have to be careful on the toasting. On the lighting however, I can see my way clearly. This is a tight bunch of filler. Like a sunspot, there’s a single dark bunch of filler that won’t light up.

P: Upon lighting it, I get nuttiness and a very slight pepper in the throat. It is a mild flavor, which I attribute to the tight draw — I’m just not getting much smoke. OK. After a few draws I’m getting a very defined wet pine on the attack. Like a 2x4 that got left in the rain.

D: Dude, that’s vivid! My draw remains moderately tight. Nice smoke in the mouth, with a little post-puff fuming. I’m having trouble identifying any particular flavors. There’s nothing objectionable, but while you are just cranking out those descriptions, I simply cannot put my finger on anything.

P: Yep. Very nice. Like a pine forest after a rain. Distinctive. I attended a Tatuaje event at Big Sticks on Tuesday. I smoked one on site (an Avion 2012), and note that we have two Tatuajes in our Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival swag. I thought the Avion was nothing to get excited about. I’ll be interested on your take of the two others models we have when we get around to it together.

D: Hmm, me too. At just over an inch in, I am finally able to identify something. All at once, like an answer to prayer, a pepperjack flavor pulled out from the attack. There was a little woodsiness in the middle, and on the finish…the finish is holding with woods. Finally, I’m able to taste the wet wood flavor you are picking up on. I can’t say pine 2x4s, but I can taste wet woods, like after a rain.

P: You seem to be in good company with Gary Korb’s review on Cigar Advisor, who said, “there was something very appealing about this cigar. It was the combination of flavor and aroma that kept me interested, but I can’t seem to describe it. It just tasted good.”

D: Good. I’m glad to know I’m not alone in this. Rarely am I lost for words to describe a cigar! I note that my ash held on well past an inch and a half. Burn has been fairly even – no touch up needed so far. It idles well, and does persist in smoking a bit even while idle. Now that I’m approaching the middle, I’m getting more sweetness overall, particularly in the middle and finish.

P: When I price these on Cigars International, I see a five-pack going for $23. That’s a great value; I’ll have to see what its going for at a brick-and-mortar. By the way, the CA reviewer gave it 4 out of 5. Well, let’s see how it is with a Warsteiner Oktoberfest

D: I started this evening with a New Belgium Abbey, but I’m hesitant to take a swig given how long it took me to identify any flavors at all…

P: Well, the Oktoberfest does diminish the cigar slightly, but it takes the edge off the cedar.

D: Following your lead, the cigar brings out some banana in the Abbey, whereas the beverage masks the sweetness of the Concert and highlights the jalapeno on the attack and black pepper through the finish. As I continue to toke, I am able to pick up on the pine wood flavor more.

P: My halfway summary is that it is real nice. Not a lot of complexity nor flavor, for that matter. But real nice with a slight cedar on the finish.

D: I’m slipping the band a bit – this is a wide band, and sexy. I went ahead and touched up once when I had about a half inch difference from one side to the other, and it has maintained nice since. My draw is getting a little tighter, and a little purging (of the cigar) seems to help.

P: I read the Matt Booth interview you found on the Camacho site – which was a reprint from Cigar Insider. I took an interest in him after meeting him at the Rocky Mountain Cigar Festival last week – and especially because I won a box of his Room101 Namakubi 8 x 60 x 44s in a raffle. Here is a photo of us holding the autographed box.

Punch with Matt Booth at the 2013 RMCF

Punch with Matt Booth and a box of Namakubis at the 2013 RMCF

D: That was one of the neat things about the RMCF – meeting the “authors” if you will. Not knowing the faces of all of the key makers, I learned that I needed to be careful what I said to whom. I did deliver to one vendor an honest review of a cigar, only to later learn that it was his cigar. I am grateful that I used sufficient tact in explaining a less-than-stellar appreciation. In return, he showed me the cigar that was being introduced, and he explained how it may well meet all of the concerns I expressed about the other line.

P: My Concert is trying to end early. I’m purging it, cutting it off just short of the burn line and relighting… and here’s a relighting tip I’m trying to learn: trying not to put the flame from my torch on the tip, but keep it a flame’s length away to do the lighting. It’s supposed to prevent too much heat too fast, prevent scorching the tobacco. The same reason to avoid hot-boxing.

D: Good tip! I’m well into the last third, and the flavor is turning to burnt wet wood… I’m thinking like a campfire in the woods after a rain. Maybe a burnished wood – not a charry, ashy taste, but of deep richness. I’m also getting the condensing flavor that signals I’m near the end of pleasant smokablilty, and that’s disappointing. I’m going to try to punch it again with a larger diameter.

P: Last third here, too. Cedar is starting to build. A tip that I received from an experienced smoker yesterday, was that a cigar does need to rest between puffs, to keep excessive heat from building up.

D: Yeah, but that’s hard to do in the last third, when you are fighting it going out. Either you start hot-boxing to keep it lit, or you keep relighting it between rests – either way, it’s going to diminish your smoking experience. I’ve noticed that mine seems to have left the wrapper behind – I’m going to give it a touch of flame around the rim.

P: Ha, see, I was letting mine rest, and it almost went out. Lemmie see if I can get it back…Yep – salvaged the burn. Here in the middle of the last third the cedar is coming and going. One thing I find about cedar is that even a small amount can easily dominate the mellow flavors of this stick.

D: True that. The wrapper light did help restore some flavor; the sweetness is definitely in the wrapper I’d say, at this point. At about an inch and a half to go, there is still a wet wood sweetness in the middle and finish, with the attack flavor lost to physical heat. A slow, short draw about every minute or so seems to be minimizing the cedar.

P: Mine has decided to tunnel in spite of my efforts to thwart it, so I’ll call it done, even though, when burning uniformly the taste is still quite nice.

D: With an inch to go, the pleasant flavor of rich woods is just beginning to turn. I’m going to put it down, and let the music play on in my mind.

Burn it or Spurn it?

D: Burn it, baby! This was a tough-starting cigar for me – not in rigging, but in the tuning. Even before my taster caught up with the stogie, it was a fine experience. It is fairly uniform and not particularly broad or complicated, but the depth of flavor suited me nicely. After 90+ minutes, encore! Also, I definitely need to shop around for a better beverage pairing for my next Concert. Rock on!

P: This Concert provided subtle change over the duration, from the nice damp wood beginning to a less distinct, yet pleasant ending with some cedar. It was a good burn for the buck. I’m going to put this on my shopping list for sometime after I get through all the smokes I got at the RMCF – I gotta make room in the humidor first.

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