STG Nicaragua

General Cigars, Esteli, Nicaragua

CAO Pilon Robusto

A few years back, while I was still working for The Longfiller Company, the largest independent cigar importer in The Netherlands, I walked into the office one day and my employer said “Stijn Elbersen was here and he left a box of CAO Pilon Churchill, I love them, try one”. I was surprised for two reasons, first that Stijn visited our office, Stijn is an important manager at STG, a company that we didn’t do much business with at the time, and that my employer, who’s very loyal to what he likes, only a few brands that he enjoys a lot, liked a CAO. I grabbed a cigar, lit it and I was under impressed.


At the last Intertabac trade show I ran into Stijn and Rick Rodriguez, we spend some time chatting and they gave me the Fuma em Gorda, Anaconda and this CAO Pilon Robusto. The Pilon is quite unique as a very old method of fermenting the tobacco has been used for the Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. Nowadays fermentation is done in huge, rectangle stacks, creating more heat than the Pilon style, which is done in smaller, round, stacks. Due to the smaller stacks the temperature is lower, so it takes longer for the leafs to fully ferment but it also leads to a bigger reduction of ammonia and sugar. Add some Nicaraguan filler and binder from Esteli and Ometepe to the wrapper and there you have the CAO Pilon.


The wrapper feels lacquered, its coffee colored with a nice shine and a long thin vein. The beige ring is big and simple, stylish with black letters pilon in the centre and the CAO logo. The size 5×52 is mentioned as well as Rick Rodriguez’s signature. The triple capped head is beautifully rounded and the cigar feels evenly firm everywhere. The aroma is lacking though, I don’t smell a lot when I sniff the cigar.


I punched the cigar. The cold draw is good, I taste a mild sweet raisin flavor. After lighting I taste a nice smooth coffee. Slowly the flavor changes to smooth cedar with floral notes. Halfway I still taste the cedar, with the floral notes, a little vanilla and pepper. The pepper fades, the floral and vanilla notes are getting stronger. Near the end I taste some toast and pepper.


The draw is great and the white ash is very dense. The smoke is thick and full. The burn is decent. This cigar is medium bodied and medium flavored. The smoke time is an hour and twenty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? It’s better than I remembered but nah.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, CAO, Nicaraguan cigars, STG Nicaragua | Tags: , , , ,

CAO La Traviata Angry Santa

Yesterday I wrote a review on the CAO La Traviata Maduro Evil Snowman Limited Edition, the limited edition that CAO released in 2013 for the holiday season. But the Evil Snowman wasn’t the only limited edition as STG, the parent company of CAO, released the Angry Santa too at the same day. Where the Evil Snowman is the La Traviata Maduro the Angry Santa is a limited edition of the La Traviata but a little modified.


The modifications are not huge when it comes to the wrapper, as its the same Ecuadorian Habano but just from a higher priming, the blend however is different according to the CAO website. I wonder if this will be as good as I remember the La Traviata to be, that was by far my favorite CAO although the Amazon Basin was good too. I didn’t care for any other CAO though, so I’m hoping they didn’t screw up the blend but then again, if they did, its only a limited edition with a small number of cigars released.


Just like the Evil Snowman the Angry Santa has a huge ring, half the cigar is covered with a ring on black shiny paper and an image of an evil angry santa that makes Billy Bob Thornton looks good as Bad Santa. This santa gives children nightmares. The santa is smoking a La Traviata and the smoke is forming the letters CAO. Th wrapper is oily and shiny with a reddish brown shine. The construction feels good and the cigar is beautifully shaped. The aroma is a mixture of wood, mint and herbs and medium strong.


I punched the cigar and find a loose cold draw, mild spicy. After lighting I taste spices like cinnamon with cedar, lime and some sugar. After an inch I taste cedar with nutmeg. Halfway the lime is getting stronger. The final third starts with spicy cedar


The draw is a little loose but not as loose as the cold draw. The smoke is thick and white and the ash is white too. The cigar is medium bodied yet full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and fifteen minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, first of all it’s a limited edition from a few years back and secondly I remembered the La Traviata to be better.

Score: 89
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Categories: 89, CAO, Nicaraguan cigars, STG Nicaragua | Tags: , , , ,

CAO La Traviata Maduro Evil Snowman

In 2013 CAO releases two limited edition versions of their La Traviata line, one of the only CAO lines that I like. I found both of the limited editions, Angry Santa and Evil Snowman, at Corona Cigars in Orlando, at the downtown location in February 2014 and I bought one of both 6 1/2 x52 Toro sized cigars just to try, as I do with every new CAO line as I do love their creativity in lines, packaging etc although most of their lines turn out to be a disappointment for me. But La Traviata was a good one, so my expectations for this limited edition is quite high.


The Evil Snowman is based on the La Traviata Maduro line, the cigar is made at the STG factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. The wrapper is a Connecticut broadleaf, the binder is from Honduras while the filler is from both Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Only 21.000 cigars were rolled so I guess I was quite lucky that I was able to buy one of the last singles Corona had lying around in their huge humidor and that for the very reasonable price of 7 dollar even though that was little over the MSRP of $6.60


The wrapper is dark, smooth, oily but the construction is a bit wrinkly, yet evenly firmed and the head is beautiful. But lets not kid anybody, the ring catches the eye first. Donald Trump would say “it’s huge” and he’s right because the ring is over 3 inch long. Its shiny black with an image of an angry, evil snowman that could come straight out of a Tim Burton movie and the snowman is smoking a CAO La Traviata. The smoke forms the letters CAO. The aroma is medium strong and reminds me of dark chocolate and hay.


I punched the cigar and the cold draw is perfect. I taste a very mild raisin flavor before lighting the cigar with my vintage Ronson. After lighting I taste a full coffee. After half an inch I taste spicy, peppery wood with a little citrus. Soon after it’s wood with a pepper on the back of my tongue and a metallic flavor. After a third I taste pepper, wood and a faint cocoa powder with a soil flavor. Slowly the cocoa gets stronger and a little more of a chocolate flavor. With an inch and a half to go I taste nuts, spices, pepper and wood with a little lime.


The draw is almost perfect. The light gray ash isn’t really firm but it sure is pretty. The smoke is medium full in volume and thickness. The burn is straight, no touch up needed. The cigar is medium bodied and medium full flavored. The smoke time is an hour and forty minutes.

Would I buy this cigar again? No, but I never found the CAO la traviata Maduro worth getting again so that’s no surprise.

Score: 87
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Categories: 87, CAO, Nicaraguan cigars, STG Nicaragua | Tags: , , , , ,

C.A.O. Amazon Basin

Back in 2014 C.A.O. released their new special project, the Amazon Basin which is made of an Ecuadorean Sumatra wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and filler from Nicaragua, Brazil and Colombia but the unique part of the blend is the rare Bragança tobacco that only grows in a small part of the Amazon and is only harvested every 3 years. Now I’m not a C.A.O. fan, I love their concepts, their innovative packaging and all but their cigars never did it for me, except for the La Traviata but still, as always I was intrigued.


In september of that year Rick Rodriguez from C.A.O. was one of the guests at the Dutch Big Smoke, of which I was one of the organizers. And Rick gave me one of the original release cigars, something I appreciate a lot but because of my huge stash of cigars and the C.A.O. brand the cigar got lost in my walk-in humidor. Earlier today I was talking to a friend and he was raving on about the cigar, that he has 2 boxes coming of the 2017 release, so I told him my experiences with C.A.O. but he kept on insisting I should try the cigar, so I dug it up (good thing about having your collection in stogie rate and taking the time to make different collections is that even though you have a huge stash, you can still easily find your cigars) and I’m ready to light it.


The first thing that I notice, and I think everybody notices, is the ring, or the lack of it. The cigar doesn’t have a ring but 4 tobacco leaves rolled into 4 separate wires and then wrapped around the cigar like a ring. It’s this kind of ingenuity that always makes me want to try new C.A.O. cigars anyway. The wrapper is nice, dark and shiny without a lot of veins. The construction feels good and the cap is placed nicely. And then the aroma, that makes my mouth water, dark chocolate and the smell is strong too.


I punched the cigar, my preferred way of decapping and with a 6×52 vitola it’s easy to punch. The cold draw is perfect and I taste some raisin, pepper and a mild minty flavor with a drop of lemon, and that all before lighting it. After lighting it with my Ronson varaflame I taste coffee, chocolate, toast and cinnamon. After half an inch i taste cinnamon, nutmeg, toast, lemon and some pepper. After an inch I taste lime with cocoa and toast. After a third it’s spicy cinnamon with pepper and cacao, the evolution is great. Halfway I taste pepper with cocoa and a little lime and mint in the aftertaste. Every other puff I taste cinnamon too, nice and spicy.  After two thirds the toast returns with the flavors mentioned before. I wonder if the ring is smokable since it’s tobacco and what it will do for the flavor profile of the cigar and the answer is yes and mint, more mint but also some bitterness.


The draw is fantastic, nothing less than perfect. The smoke is thick and full. The ash is light gray and firm, with nice layers. The burn is straight and slow. The evolution is great. This cigar is full flavored and medium full bodied. The smoke time is an hour and a half.

Would I buy this cigar again? To my surprise: yes!

Score: 92
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Your reviewer with Rick Rodriguez (CAO cigars)

Categories: 92, CAO, Nicaraguan cigars, STG Nicaragua | Tags: , , , ,

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