Cigar Review: CAO Escaparate Costa Rican Maduro

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Size: 5×50, Robusto

Wrapper: Costa Rican Maduro

Binder: Ecuadorian

Filler: Nicaraguan Blend (Esteli, Jalapa, and Condega regions)

Strength: Medium

Price: Rueda of 50, $339.95

Grade: 8.6

The Escaparate is a blend made exclusively for Corona Cigar Company and comes in two varieties: Costa Rican and Ecuadorian. Today we toast the Costa Rican Maduro sent to us by Jeff a couple months ago. CCC has a good description of this blend, along with an interesting video, which you may view here.

Inside CAO International’s world headquarters in Nashville, lies the exclusive Escaparate (Spanish for “Showcase”) humidor which houses very rare and unique CAO cigar blends that will never see regular production.   The reason is that these exceptional, prototype cigar blends that contain tobaccos that are so rare, that the cigar factory would never be able to procure enough of these special tobaccos to produce a cigar for national distribution.  Tim Ozgener, President of CAO International Cigars, offered Corona Cigar Company two exclusive Escaparate blends for our loyal customers to enjoy.  One Escaparate blend from Costa Rica and one Escaparate blend from Ecuador.

Now that we’ve looked at the background on this stick, let’s toast that foot.

Pre-light, 1.9:
This boutique blend from CAO is encased in a beautiful box press with a very elegant double band. The top band is a very nice CAO label in red, white, and blue and is complement by a CCC label at the boxed foot. The wrapper is a very nice dark and oily maduro that has a very rustic appearance, with visible veins and an aged leathery exterior that is splotched by dark spots resembling aged furniture. There are no soft spots on the stick and it has a great weight to it and solid feel in the hand. The aroma is a medium to strong roast with notes of sweet cocoa and caramel complimented by hints of creamy leather. The cold draw matches the aroma perfectly and adds the slightest bit of pepper to the finish. The draw is medium, which notes a portion of the deduction in this category.

Burn, 1.4:
After smoking three of these sticks, I decidedthat the burn on these sticks are well below average, especially when considering the price point.  The burn began to jag early on and created a strong ‘v’ as the smoke progressed. At the two third mark I was forced to relight, a major deduction for me. The draw moved from medium to loose/medium toward the second third forward, which was nice. The smoke produced was nice and thick and had a very sweet aroma.

Flavor, 2.7:
The flavor on the Costa Rican was the winning factor on this stick. The cold draw set the standards pretty high and the burn did not fail on this. Up front there was some nice pepper that quickly faded into a creaminess that stuck around for the duration of the smoke. The creaminess took on nice notes of cocoa and caramel as the cigar moved through the second third and a nice leathery taste arrived when blowing through the nose. There was a slight harshness toward the final third of the smoke and the deduction is made for this reason. It was very consistent, though it did lack a bit of the complexity picked up on the cold draw.

Overall, 2.6:
As with any cigar we toast, price is a factor, and the CAO Escaparate Costa Rican comes in just under $7. I’d say this is worth the price, if only to try a cigar that you likely will not find in too many places. The press is perfect on this stick, the flavors are entertaining, and the story behind the stick is intriguing. But, don’t overlook the burn issues on this stick. This is the major deduction in the overall category, because for $7 I expect a pretty good burn and all three sticks failed in this category. Overall, I’d say pick one up if you see it, but don’t buy 50 of ‘em!

(Total: 8.6)