The CAO Amazon Basin was originally introduced in 2014 and received critical acclaim. This year the CAO Amazon Basin returns for the first time since 2022. I’ll be honest, I walked into Twins Smoke Shop in Londonderry, New Hampshire and asked the dreaded question of, “What’s new?”. My boy Nick told me the CAO Amazon Basin to which I said no thanks, the last few haven’t been that great. Well, he told me, “This one is good we [him & Pat) can’t stop smoking them.” So here we are… Was it sales tactics or is this legit good?
CAO Amazon Basin centers on an Amazonian tobacco called “Bragança,” which is organically grown on unspoiled tropical land and harvested once every three years. Seedlings are transplanted directly into the soil a full yard apart from each other, resulting in less than half the yield of other tobacco plants. The leaves are rolled by hand into tubes called “carottes” where they undergo six months of natural fermentation. They are then transported out of the rainforest by canoe, taken to the mainland, and ultimately brought to the CAO factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. There, CAO’s blenders allow the aromatic Bragança leaf to take center stage, surrounded by tobacco curated from four different countries.
Cigar Review: CAO Amazon Basin
Size: 6 x 52 Toro
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
Filler: Dominican Republic, Columbia, Brazilian Bragança
Debut: January 2024
Box Count: 18
The Cigar: The CAO Amazon Basin is easily recognizable by its 4 row tobacco wrapped around the cigar in lieu of a band. It’s not a pretty cigar by any stretch of the imagination. There is some significant vein structure to the wrapper, and the cigar has a bit of a lumpy appearance to it. However the wrapper is loaded with oils and in the hand the cigar is firm to the touch while being heavy for its size.
The Taste: Sour Patch Kids. That is instantly what I think when I take the cold draw. To be honest, it is quite nasty and not what I want from a cigar. The aroma from the foot is similar but definitely not as potent as the draw. Once the cigar is toasted and lit I am happy the cold draw is not a fair representation of this cigar. This massive smoke producer reveals notes of pepper with some subtle fruit to start.
Smoking the first third sees the pepper notes tone back slightly as notes of black cherry and chocolate develop with a raisin sweetness. As the first third comes to a close there is a tree bark note along side a subtle anise. The retrohale is aromatic with a touch of pepper at the tail end.
The second third sees the anise notes ramp up considerably. In the background there is raisin, chocolate and continued black cherry. The tree bark component remains along with a touch of oak. As we cross the half way there is some sourness to the cigar from the Sumatra wrapper and from the Brazilian Braganca tobacco. While not as powerful as the cold draw it is worth noting as having very Sumatra taste.
The final third of this medium-full cigar sees the sour component fade away as the cigar finishes with notes of oak and cedar along with hints of anise. As we smoke through the tobacco “band” there is a nice floral aroma and flavor profile added to the mix with a subtle pepper aroma.
Conclusion: While more enjoyable than the 2022 release it still doesn’t compare to the 2014 release which was iconic. Perhaps it was because it featured tobacco that was new to the industry or it was a better job of blending to mask the Sumatra wrapper which is a love or hate for many cigar smokers. Despite being a bit sour at times, I find myself wanting another due to the solid finish and for me that is the sign of a good stick. When these first came out they were $9.25 and now 10 years later they are $14.29 a cigar which is over a 50% increase. Cigars are quickly becoming a less affordable luxury.
Price: $14.29 (Before any local or state taxes)
Editor’s Note: It was snowing out and for those curious thats snow drops on the cigar in the featured image.