Concluding my CAO Five Card Stud Sampler from Pipes & Cigars was the CAO Black Ltd. Bengal Toro, which I chose as a morning smoke prior to a somewhat-intimidating dentist appointment. I knew that I was going to need dental surgery and that I was going to be off of cigars for a few days, so I figured I’d better make this one count.
The limited edition CAO Black Ltd. Bengal is a medium-bodied with a Connecticut-Ecuadoran wrapper; a Habano-seed Nicaraguan binder, and Nicaraguan, Honduran, and Mexican fillers. The combination is probably unique, and I see why everyone seemed so excited about it.
Cigars International proudly declares:
To many of us, the exclusive CAO Black cigar is CAO’s crown jewel, their piece de resistance. That’s a bold statement, considering CAO’s stable includes a number of exceptional cigars. You see, this blend was crafted with extensively aged, top-tier tobaccos, made in extremely limited quantities, and packaged in hand-painted, hand-numbered boxes. The production run was small, a super-exclusive “small-batch” cigar. Needless to say, given CAO’s sterling reputation as a maker of superior cigars, they pulled out all the stops. That’s why hearing the phrase “CAO Black is my favorite cigar” has become so commonplace.”
Well, these are some pretty bold claims! I was eager to see how well they matched up to the reality.
The stick was presented with the simple CAO black label and a black ribbon strip at the foot, cloaked in a cedar strip. The wrapper note was of light golden tobacco and clover, with perhaps a dash of vanilla. Undraping the cedar revealed a satiny gold unveined barber-pole wrapper. The pack was exceptionally firm and it had a triple cap, which punched beautifully. The pre-light draw was of hay and clover with a dash of vanilla.
The first draw, which I began at five after ten in the morning, was deliciously of buttery cream and sweetness – mmm! There was a noticeable nut and honey element mingled in there, apparent with the first couple of draws. It released beautifully voluptuous clouds of smoke and left my mouth gently tingling with a tasty almond aftertaste.
At about ten-thirty (twenty-five minutes in) I noticed the cigar progress nicely into more almond, nut, and woody elements with a lot less butter. Very complex and interesting, it seemed to change character as I smoked. Unfortunately at about twenty to eleven (just a little more than half an hour in) the wrapper cracked a little. Admittedly I was smoking it pretty hot since I was in hurry to be sure it was finished before I went off to the dentist to have my mouth mutilated. It was still perfectly smokeable, however, and it still plumed delicious-smelling smoke into the air.
I saw then where the “Bengal” may have come from: it’s a bit like Chai spice or Bengal spice tea, with its particular combination of flavours. And what a tiger!
I had to clip and relight at 11:13 am because it went out; then I had some trouble with the flaking wrapper and a bad cut. But still I was able to squeeze the final delightful third out of this fine smoke. At this point I noticed a bit of a head rush so I think the vitamin N content is sufficient to make the smoke quite pleasant. I also noticed some spice elements – perhaps nutmeg – that I had not noticed before.
It finished with an absolutely delightful and complex smokey, buttery, almondy flavour and a leathery undertone, and it left just a dash of pepper in the mouth. Alas, it went out again at a point that made it impossible to relight at twenty-five minutes after eleven, for a total smoke time of an hour and twenty minutes. I could have smoked more; but neither was I unsatisfied.
Apparently Cigar Buyer Magazine awared the CAO Black with an unprecedented perfect 10 out of 10 score; I can see why! This was everything I want in a cigar; it was interesting, delicious, complex, and satisfying. I would definitely smoke it again and may put it on my Yuletide wish list! Unfortunately it did go out and its construction wasn’t perfect. It’s something I’ve noticed consistently with CAO; they often make hard cigars, and those ones tend to have crumbly wrappers. But they are nowhere near as bad as the Gurkhas!
I’m happy to be back in black!
I give the CAO Black Ltd. Bengal a respectable:
You can get them at Cigars International for $26 USD for a five pack, or $85 USD for a twenty pack with a cutter.