Cigar Review: CAO Gold Maduro

IMG_6748Size: 5×50, Robusto

Wrapper: Brazilian Maduro

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Strength: Mild/Medium

Price: Box of 20, $90

Grade: 8.7

The original CAO Gold line was created in 1996 and has been very well received – the Maduro version utilizes the same binder and filler, but utilizes a Brazilian Maduro wrapper, and was introduced in 2007. The Gold Maduro began as a blend for CAO’s Concept Series and was kept in the infamous CAO Escaparate room at the Nashville headquarters. The Escaparate is said to hold over 400,000 cigars in various stages of development.

The Gold Maduro is sold in boxes of 20, at under $100, and in six sizes: Corona (5.5×42), Robusto (5×50), Corona Gorda (6.5×50), Churchill (7×40), Torpedo (6.25×52), and Double Corona (7.5×54). You can find the official press release, when the cigar was released in March of 2007, here.

You can learn more about CAO online or follow Jon Huber, Director of Lifestyle Marketing, on Twitter.

IMG_6752Pre-light, 1.7:
The dark chocolate Brazilian Maduro is dry to the touch with a bumpy exterior that is light on veins, spongy at the foot and beneath the band, cleanly capped, and overall appealing – oddly, in parts, toward the cap in the top third, the wrapper looks more like a binder. The red and gold pop off the dark brown wrapper. The aroma is superb – it’s one of those where if someone were to walk outside and see you, you would be embarrassed – I think my eyes were closed and I was drooling. Full of sweet cocoa, a crisp, green barnyard with a slight pungency, and touches of cedar all work to create an excellent aroma. The draw is clean and loose and the flavor is crisp and clean and full of barnyard notes with just a little bit of sweetness.

Burn, 1.6:
The draw is wide open and there is a loose hold to the ash; the ash flakes but has a consistent and clean color. There is also a small hole that develops in the middle of the ash and the Gold Maduro eventually extinguishes itself. The smoke emitted is very thick and sweetly aromatic, and the burn temperature is cool throughout. Maybe I’m unlucky with CAO, or the two of us just aren’t meant to be, but I’ve had burn issues with the majority of CAO cigars, which is unfortunate because they always deliver in the flavor department.

Flavor, 2.7:
Through the first third, the Maduro is very mild in body and flavor, with a muted chocolate and a musty undertone; there is no transition or complexity as it moves into the second third. With time, the chocolate notes appear with a tinge of espresso that is more dry than sweet. There is also a subdued barnyard note of hay with some harshness and stinging bitterness that quickly fades and leads into a mellow and gentle final third. The final stretch presents a buttery profile that remains on the edge, but is never able to pop through and stick around.

Overall, 2.7:
The Gold Maduro was a toss up for me, and it took some time and some samples to properly score – the flavor was great in spots with some nice complexity, but it was also bitter in spots. Also, the burn produced billows of smoke, but was loose and went out. And, the appearance had an amazing aroma but also had soft spots and was spongy. All in all, at under $5, this is a good smoke and I would definitely keep a 5 pack in the humidor for the yard or for buddies, and at a good sale price, I would pick up a box as well. This is not a special occasion smoke, but a great every day variety.

(Total: 8.7)