This past January, CAO announced the second cigar in their Arcana Series: Firewalker. The CAO Arcana Firewalker follows the Arcana Mortal Coil that came out last year, and scored a 95 in our blind tasting. The Arcana series focuses on old-world processing methods and limited production. Firewalker was inspired by the Chincagre method of aging.
This cigar was reviewed blind (no bands) by a panel of at least 4 reviewers. They did not know what they were smoking beforehand. The scores are an average of all the reviewers' scores with outliers removed. All of our cigars reviewed are shipped to the panelists with Boveda packs to ensure optimal smoking experience.
Chincagre refers to a process of aging utilized by tobacco farmers in Western Nicaragua. The tobacco is grown and aged in the Masatepe region of Nicaragua. There the tobacco is put into a pilón that is buried down in volcanic soil. Under these conditions, the pilon lets the tobacco to ferment naturally, and traps in sweet and aromatic flavors to the tobacco. After two months, the Chincagre process is finalized, and the pilón is moved to the factory for another 9 months of secondary fermentation.
The CAO Arcana Firewalker comes in only one size, a 6.5 x 56 toro. The blend uses an Ecuadoran Habano Rosado wrapper, Nicaraguan binder, and Nicaraguan fillers. The MSRP is $11.99 per cigar and comes in boxes of 20. Only 5,000 boxes were produced and it is only sold in the U.S. It is rolled at American Caribbean Cigars in Nicaragua.
Vitola: Double Toro
Length: 6 1/2″
Ring Gauge: 56
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
Factory: American Caribbean Cigars S.A.
Blender: Rick Rodriguez
Number of reviewers: 5 – Jason H. (Jokey Smurf) Mickey T. (irratebass) Quinn (quinnpins269) Kevin A. (Kevin A.) John A. (Bostoneo)
Age: 3 Months
Release Date: February 2022
Contributed by: General Cigar
Initial Impressions – CAO Arcana Firewalker
“When I first picked up this cigar I noticed a great deal of small veins throughout the wrapper. Some of the veins had some small wrapper tears near them. The wrapper had a slightly oily feel to it but was also dry at the same time. It was a very interesting first impression of this cigar.” –Quinn (quinnpins269)
“There is almost no aroma on my sample except for the foot which is very sweet with a light, woody note.” –Jason H. (Jokey Smurf)
“Ooof the first few puffs on this cigar were rough. The smoke was very harsh and bitter. It had a fair amount of mineral/aluminum notes coming through which I think made it a bit of a rough start. It was not off to a great start, but once I got about an inch into the cigar it started getting better. By this point, the bitter and harshness had faded away. The mineral profile was joined by some light cedar notes.” –Quinn (quinnpins269)
“The is starting out with a very acrid/pungent taste. It has a burnt potpourri type of flavor to it. There is not one real pleasant flavor yet. I will say the strength is right at a medium.” –Mickey T. (irratebass)
“Getting smooth mild and medium-bodied smoke while breaking into this second third. Lighter leather notes followed up with some heavier char flavors. With the very loose draw, I feel the cigar is lacking in body that it may have had if it were firmed up a bit. Moving into the final stretch of this third, this sample begins to morph into a predominate dry wood profile.” –John A. (Bostoneo)
“The cigar really begins to wake up in the middle part. Marzipan is the prominent note, with a little bit of vanilla cream sweetness and cinnamon on the finish. The retrohale is still white pepper at the front, and what reminds me of honey butter toast on the finish. Really impressed with the depth and sweetness of the body of this cigar. It is not overly complex, but what is there is working together really well and is very flavor-forward. Burn is on point and draw is as close as it’s going to get to perfect with a cracked wrapper.” –Kevin A. (Kevin A.)
“Into the final portion, I’m seeing a complete transition from the sweet crème brûlée into a woody and earthy profile. I hate to see those flavors leave but the slightly stronger finish is right up my alley and is really interesting. Through the nose, the smoke has not changed and each puff warrants a retrohale.” –Jason H. (Jokey Smurf)
“The last third begins out with a solid medium graphite profile with a hint of sweetness on the back end after a quick touchup from half of the wrapper becoming unlit. By now the loose construction of this cigar begins to show as it becomes very mushy and soft when I pick it up. Flavors only build in body and strength until it finally becomes overwhelming and sours out… time to put this one to pasture.” –John A. (Bostoneo)
Overall Impressions – CAO Arcana Firewalker
“Overall it had a good draw. Right down the middle and just right.” –Quinn (quinnpins269)
“Burn wasn’t too bad, I did touch it up once or twice.” –Mickey T. (irratebass)
“First off I must say the cigar smoked very well from start to finish. However, before lighting, I did notice a few spots where the wrapper had been torn near veins. Whether the wrapper leaf was like that before it was put on the cigar or it pulled once it was wrapped we will never know. I did have multiple times during the review where the wrapper popped and split. Fortunately, even with the wrapper splitting I was able to smoke through it and did not have to touch up.” –Quinn (quinnpins269)
Overall Strength: Medium
Overall Body/Complexity: Medium
Experience Overall: 89
“I was a bit put off by the size but am really pleased with the experience. I can’t really imagine a better morning smoke based on the initial flavors, and the finish prepared me to light another cigar right away. Highly recommend this one to everyone!” –Jason H. (Jokey Smurf)
“This was not a good cigar…….I’m sorry, but it really wasn’t. There were no real flavors to it other than burnt soil. I really wish I could say a nice thing about this cigar, but I just can’t.” –Mickey T. (irratebass)
“I would give this cigar a second try. The construction issues I had do happen from time to time. As for the rough start, I hope that was a one-time-only too. If I had a similar smoke the second time that is where I would move on from this stick.” –Quinn (quinnpins269)
“It was a very enjoyable cigar. The first two-thirds were full of creaminess and sweetness. The final third had a little bit of bitterness but still held on to some of the early flavor notes. All the way through, the cigar performed much better than I anticipated that it would given the construction issues. Can’t wait to find out what cigar this is!” –Kevin A. (Kevin A.)
“This cigar could be made 100x better if the construction was in such a way where the draw wasn’t so loose. As a result of this loose construction, I feel the flavors were a bit light on the mouthfeel. Flavor-wise, it wasn’t too interesting but wasn’t horrible by any means as leather, char, and some other earthlike flavors were evident. Not sure if I’d pick this one up again as it just wasn’t my gig to repurchase. Perhaps you might like it, give it a go!” –John A. (Bostoneo)
Smoking Time (in minutes): 80
To view the complete scores and notes, click here.