The CAO Session was inspired by how many times CAO Master Blender Rick Rodriguez has smoking sessions in his garage. He worked closely with his friend Yuri Guillen to create what they thought would be an ideal cigar for any cigar smoker. CAO Session is described as medium-bodied.
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.
The blend uses a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, Dominican binder, and filler from Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. CAO Session comes in three sizes: Shop 6 X 60, Bar 6 X 49, and Garage 5.25 X 54. This is the first CAO cigar to be made in the Dominican Republic.
Vitola: Robusto Length: 5 1/4″ Ring Gauge: 55 Country of Origin: Dominican Republic Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Binder: Dominican Republic Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic Factory: General Cigar Dominicana Blender: Rick Rodriguez Number of reviewers: 4 – Sean F. (fullermaine) Kevin A. (Kevin A.) Matt Cade(CadeTNCC) Vance T. (Vance) Price: $8.59 Age: 1 Year Release Date: July 2019 Contributed by: General Cigar
Initial Impressions – CAO Session Garage
“Beautiful appearance. The dark chocolate wrapper is flawless. No blemishes, cuts, or dings.” –Sean F. (fullermaine)
“Faint notes of melting milk chocolate coming off the cold wrapper provide the only perceptible pre-cut aroma notes for me.” –Vance T. (Vance)
Flavor: 88 Strength: Medium-Strong Body/Complexity: Medium
“Removing the cap is always a pleasure on super dark maduro like this because the contrast between the jet black wrapper and the milk chocolate filler tobacco really pops. I pick up black pepper and cocoa off the cold draw, then light it up. The initial note is heavily spiced with pepper tingling the back of my tongue, coating my palate, and slapping me in the face on the retro. There’s a smoky hickory note on the front as well, and strong bitterness that lingers. It’s not enjoyable bitter, like black coffee or dark chocolate, but more like a bitter herb or dandelion green. I’m already getting a wonky burn line a quarter inch in, but the black pepper has immediately subsided and resides almost entirely now in the retrohale. The hickory is persisting nicely, and the bitterness, while still heavy on the finish, is blending better into the smoky, woodsy note. From the appearance, and the aroma, I was expecting (let’s be honest), hoping, for some semblance of cocoa but it’s, sadly, non-existent. There is an earthiness gaining momentum at the one-inch mark that leaves the cigar feeling dry and heavy. It really needs a sweetness beyond the wood to counter the weight of the profile to this point. Ask and ye shall receive. About a half-inch before the end of this third subtlest note of a cinnamon tea sweetens up the profile and offers some relief, not to mention hope. It’s still heavy on earth and wood, but the medium body feels to be balancing.”-Vance T. (Vance)
“The first few puffs of the cigar have notes of pepper, coffee, barnyard, and charred meat. The pepper sits on the tongue for quite a long finish. The retrohale has hints of cocoa and cinnamon with a pepper finish. Interestingly, while the flavors are noticeable, it is all rather muted and not very intense. Getting a little farther in, a raisin note enters the picture, leaving a somewhat sweet and slightly bitter finish. The draw opened right up when lit, and is performing well. Burn is wavy but acceptable, and smoke output is thick and heavy.” –Kevin A. (Kevin A.)
Flavor: 88 Strength: Medium-Strong Body/Complexity: Medium
“Man, this cigar doesn’t fool around. Once it made that decision to go full strength and full-bodied halfway through the first third, it just keeps right on truckin’ in that direction. The burn line was beginning to grow a bit uneven but after a quick touch-up with my torch lighter it righted the ship and there were no more issues. Flavors remain consistent with those present in the first third, bold oak and black coffee on the draw and that retrohale spice is still paired up with the enjoyable mineral.” –Matt Cade (CadeTNCC)
“Sadly the promise of sweeter things to come was nothing but a big tease. The bitterness remains and now there is a chemical harshness torturing my palate between puffs. This cigar can’t make up its mind. By the midway mark, it’s, once again, teasing me with a coming together of balanced flavor. The harshness has evaporated and I’m left with a sweet breadiness combining with the black pepper on the retro and the cinnamon is coming back. The wood and earth have tempered dramatically at this point and it’s almost a whole new cigar. It’s still hanging around in the medium-strong strength profile and medium body. The burn is good and the ashes and dense and firm.” –Vance T. (Vance)
“The cigar remains the same going into the final part. There is actually slightly more bitterness in the finish in the last 1 1/2″ or so. The cigar is also drying out the palate making a sip of water every other puff a necessity. The charred meat note that was present early in the smoking experience returns late in the experience, and actually takes the bitterness and the dryness away, meaning the cigar will finish on a good note, improving this part of the cigar significantly.” –Kevin A. (Kevin A.)
“By the final third, the cigar moves squarely into the “strong” bucket and the flavors, while not individually bad, but are all over the place and uncomplimentary. There’s a faint hint of sweet butter growing toward the end and crisp rosemary herbal finish. Pepper and cinnamon remain.” –Vance T. (Vance)
Overall Impressions – CAO Session Garage
“The draw was very good throughout the smoking experience.” –Matt Cade (CadeTNCC)
“Nice even burn with grey-white ash. Small relight needed due to smoker error.” –Sean F. (fullermaine)
“Although it looked rugged, the construction was very good in this cigar. Burn and draw performed all the way through.” –Kevin A. (Kevin A.)
Overall Strength: Medium-Strong Overall Body/Complexity: Medium Experience Overall: 87
“A cigar I wish wouldn’t end. Perfect enjoyment from beginning to end. Nice balance of sweetness, spice, and woodiness. I’d seek this cigar out and load up my humidor.” –Sean F. (fullermaine)
“The flavors in the cigar were very muted and hard to pull out. The strength was very well-mannered, but the cigar never really developed into anything stellar. It was an enjoyable experience, just not a memorable one. I wouldn’t hesitate to hand this cigar to less experienced smokers, as there is nothing in it that would discourage it. It would hold up nicely with black coffee late in the morning or bourbon in the evening. Most beers would probably overrun it.” –Kevin A. (Kevin A.)
“If you’re looking for a powerful, oily cigar that produces a ton of smoke with a lot of strength and bold simple flavors – this might be the cigar you’re looking for. It was also a fast-smoking cigar but the draw never got too hot to handle. Pair this stogie with an enormous glass of bourbon and thank me afterward.” –Matt Cade (CadeTNCC)
“I just couldn’t get into this cigar. The moment I began to enjoy it the profile would flip and something random and overpowering would pop up. As soon as I tired of any given flavor, be it the bitterness or overpowering earthiness at one point, it would begin to balance and give false hope. This isn’t one I would be soon to revisit but if any one of those flavors really speak to you, it might be enjoyable for some.” –Vance T. (Vance)
Smoking Time (in minutes): 78
To view the complete scores and notes, click here.
"The flavors in the cigar were very muted and hard to pull out. The strength was very well-mannered, but the cigar never really developed into anything stellar. It was an enjoyable experience, just not a memorable one. I wouldn't hesitate to hand this cigar to less experienced smokers, as there is nothing in it that would discourage it. It would hold up nicely with black coffee late in the morning or bourbon in the evening. Most beers would probably overrun it." -Kevin A. (Kevin A.)