Cigar Review: CAO Gold Vintage

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Size: 4 7/8×60, Bouchon

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan and Honduran

Strength: Medium

Price: Box of 10, $64.95

Grade: 8.9

The CAO Gold Vintage is manufactured at CAO Fabrica de Tabacos and employs an Ecuadorian wrapper from a 2004 harvest, which, according to CAO’s website, “experienced a growing season that offered the perfect combination of climate, rainfall, and soil.” Each wrapper in the Gold Vintage line utilizes this wrapper, which comes in only two sizes: the Bouchon (4 7/8×60) and the Cremant (6×52). This is another excellent release from 2009, the Gold Vintage was displayed at IPCPR in New Orleans.

The Gold line continues to be a step away from the fuller bodied cigars offered by CAO and fits well with the regular Gold line, which comes in a Natural and a Maduro. The only difference in blend between the CAO Gold Natural and Vintage Gold is the addition of the Honduran filler.

In a round about way, this review comes courtesy of Dan over at Crooked Burn. Dan was kind enough to send me two of the Cremants, and I traded one for this Bouchon in the Twitter cigarpass. So, thanks go out to Dan and the Twitter cigarpass of 2010!

So, let’s see how the Vintage measures up – on to the toasting!

Pre-light, 1.9:
The Bouchon is excellently shaped with a perfecto foot and a torpedo head. The cap is a bit uneven, but is triple capped. The Vintage is very well packed with no soft spots and minimal veins. The transition from the main body to the perfecto foot is very well done and there is a bit of wear and tear, though this may have been from the previous owner. The band on the Vintage is very nice – thick and powerful.

The aroma was very creamy with notes of dry nuts and the cold draw revealed an interesting note of peppermint and green spice in the background, though primarily of nuts. The draw was a tad loose but solid overall, especially considering the unique size.

Burn, 1.9:
The Bouchon toasted quickly and burned unevenly throughout the perfecto foot, but it evened up once the line moved into the main body. The burn remained a bit hilly throughout but didn’t require any touchups and the ash had an incredible hold to it with nice coloration. The draw was open throughout and produced a very thick and aromatic smoke. Very little to find fault with here.

Flavor, 2.5:
The dominate flavors in the Vintage were of nuts and butter, with a very strong undercurrent of cream. There was also a burst of mild pepper up front which provided a very pleasant introduction. This stick did not work its way in transitions for me, but instead remained consistently smooth and rather one dimensional, which was a bit of a disappointment. I was expecting the added Honduran filler to create a bit more complexity over and beyond the regular Gold line. There were some interesting variations that included green hay and a light roast and a nice, somewhat grainy texture. Overall, the Bouchon was extremely smooth and elegant, though it lacked any real punch of flavor.

Overall, 2.6:
For a somewhat limited release from what CAO calls a superb harvest, the price of around $6 a stick seems very reasonable. The roll on this cigar and the burn was superb and there is hardly any room for improvement here. However, the flavor was a bit disappointing. Though milder smokes tend to be one dimensional, my expectations were a bit elevated for the Vintage. I would definitely smoke this one again and would even consider a box purchase of 10; I look forward to trying out the Toro, or the Cremant, and seeing how it compares.

(Total: 8.9)

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