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Stogie Reviews: CAO Black Bengal

1 Aug 2007

Long before the Ozgeners produced such hits as the Brazilia, Vision, Mx2, Criollo, or Italia lines, there was CAO Black. Riding the waves of a perfect ten out of ten rating in Cigar Buyer Magazine, these exclusive, limited production cigars single-handedly transformed the company from a small pipe and humidor outfit to a Nashville-based cigar manufacturing powerhouse.

And that success was pretty much a mistake. As you can read in this 2004 Cigar Aficionado article, a production problem with the Black line led to a recall and, ultimately, CAO’s successful – albeit short-lived – partnership with Douglas Pueringer, owner of Tabacalera Tambor in Costa Rica.

To make a long story short, thanks to a reincarnation of the highly successful line in the late 90s, CAO Black is still readily available in hand-painted, hand-numbered boxes. You won’t find any information on CAO’s website, but they’re out there for those who look hard enough.

The building blocks of these cigars include Connecticut-Ecuador wrappers, Habano-seeed Nicaraguan binders, and three-country filler blends. Each is meticulously sheathed in a cedar strip with a thin black ribbon across the foot.

As I was looking over my six inch by 50 ring gauge Bengal before lighting, I noticed what appeared to be a small notch in the top of the cedar. I naïvely thought to myself, “What care CAO has taken to ensure the entire logo is visible.” As it turns out, the attractive red, gold, and black band is merely affixed over each cedar strip.

Once removed, the strip reveals a gorgeous, almost vein-free, oily wrapper leaf. With two wooden matches, I had an even burn and some spicy notes of pepper and clove. Those tastes quickly mingle with a creamy butter flavor to omit pleasant and distinctive clouds of smoke.

I have to admit, I had a hard time picking up specific flavors from this cigar. I chalk this up to the fact that it’s too well-balanced for any one taste to dominate. My memory is still good enough to recall the sensation is quite similar to the highly acclaimed Davidoff Grand Cru.

The only weakness of the stogie is a flakey white ash that’s prone to falling off at inopportune moments. The draw is clear and true, and the burn is as straight as any cigar I’ve had.

In all, this is a tremendous light- to medium-bodied cigar that’s well worth the price (about $6 for one or $103 for a box of 20). Even though they’re not heavily marketed anymore, make sure you don’t forget to try at least one. I give the CAO Black Bengal four out of five stogies.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

-Patrick A


Drew Estate