CAO Session Cigar Review Feature

CAO Session is a project of heart for Rick Rodriguez. Featuring a characterful Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, these cigars are worthy of any proper cigar session.

In this article, you will discover the CAO Session “Bar” as we review it according to the following considerations:

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  • Brand: CAO
  • Range: Session
  • Reviewed Vitolas: 6 x 49 Toro
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Dominican Vegas Especial
  • Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano, Nicaraguan Esteli
  • Factory: General Cigar Dominicana, Dominican Republic
  • Handmade: Yes
  • Body: Medium – Full
  • Estimated Smoking Time: 110  Minutes
  • Pricing: $9 / Single [Buy Now]

The CAO Session line is a very personal creation by master blender Rick Rodriguez, taking him back to his roots with the company. All Session cigars are manufactured at General Cigar Dominicana, in Santiago De Los Caballeros.

cao session cigar square

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CAO Session Look & Feel

  • Wrapper Hue: Bitter chocolate color
  • Rolling Consistency: Evenly rolled
  • Spring: Firm
  • Aromas: Wet wood, musk, leather

Meditatively rolling the cigar in my hands, the Maduro wrapper offers a very toothy but nevertheless most refined look. There’s a characterful sheen of the Connecticut Broadleaf that this Toro has been encapsulated in. Tiny veins and a rather coarse-looking dress make for an inviting overall appearance.

As a matter of fact, all of the vitolas deliver an interesting combination of a working man’s stick feeling and a pop-culture style that’s neither too flashy nor too old-fashioned.

All of the cigars I smoked had a very firm, even roll without bumps or bruises. Just a hint of resistance could be detected when pinching them ever so gently. An intense aroma of wet wood, musk and leather complemented the first impressions.

CAO Session Review

Before lighting them up, I stored the CAO Session cigars in a coolidor, using Boveda 69% humidity packs and a Boveda Butler to accurately monitor the storing conditions.

Pre-Lighting Experience

  • Draw: Tight but pleasant
  • Aromas: Wood sap, sweet leather, olibanum

The cold draw sensations revealed some sweetness in addition to the leathery wood sap notes. The firm draw offered an array of aromas already with some black banana, olibanum and manure on top.

1st Third Smoking Experience

  • Notes: Wholegrain toast, sweet raisins, mint

The 1st third starts with plenty of sweet raisins, sprinkled over toasted whole grain bread, some mint chocolate chip – like a piece of bitter chocolate but with an underlying ethereal freshness.

The stimulation is superbly mellow with a rich, creamy opening. I detect roasted hazelnuts and candied orange peel, all in a very well balanced way. Right from the getgo, the cigar offers a medium strength profile with lingering pepper spice, besides mint freshness and a mellow sweetness.

2nd Third Smoking Experience

  • Notes: Chocolate malt, wet stone, pink peppercorn

Well into the second third there’s an intriguing wild rice nuance coming up, further elevating the complexity of the smoking experience.

Over and over again I’m allured by a mouth-coating chocolate malt sweetness, counterbalanced by lively acidity. Pink peppercorns interact with a distinct mineral sensation of shist and wet stone.

Still, the evolution is quite creamy with consistent medium strength. However, the complexity and body make for a luscious full-on experience overall.

Final Third Smoking Experience

  • Notes: Balsam wood, candied orange peel, pepper spice

I sense some stewed plums whilst transitioning into the final third. Overripe banana, bittersweet candy and orange peel enlighten the palate. Balsam and cedar add a woody element, accompanied by dark nougat and coffee malt.

Offering a rather spicy finish, the cigar elegantly prolongs the experience with a touch of lingering bitterness. As a counterbalancing element, rich raisin and plum sweetness further elevate the experience, rounded off by piquancy and spice.

The CAO Session is most certainly a complex smoke, intricately stimulating the entire palette in a well structured and well-balanced way. The cigar offers quite a mellow creamy mouthfeel with bitter chocolate in the back.

The entire room is filled with a lovely residual sweetness and hints pink peppercorns.

Overall Burn

  • Ash Backbone: Quite strong
  • Burn Angle: Slightly wavy
  • Temperature: Cool
  • Draw: Firm
  • Final Smoking Time: 110 Minutes

I have to admit that quite a few of the Session cigars I smoked needed some touch-ups. However, given the thick and oily character of the wrapper, the cigars come in, the overall burn was still rather even, resulting in a strong backbone and pristine ash.

The draw os quite firm, but it reveals a superbly cold smoke and tempting stimulation of the palate.

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Overall Experience

Ornating the bitter-chocolate coloured wrapper is a bright copper-orange double-ring formation with the secondary ring proudly stating “sit, smoke, chill”. Given the background story of the cigar, it almost sounds like a mantra or mission statement.

Taking the overall experience into consideration, I really like the concept of the CAO Session with its very convivial social element as the underlying story. Whether it’s the tactile sensations, the look-and-feel, or the aromatic profile overall: it all comes together nicely, snuggly tied in with the overall concept of the brand.

Pairing Recommendations With A CAO Session Cigar

I would recommend a strong cup of darkly roasted espresso or plum juice to pair with the cigar. Both options perfectly underline and support the luscious fruity sweetness as well as richly textured, bitter finish. If you prefer an alcoholic tipple, you have to try Grand Marnier or another bitter orange liqueur – what a perfect match!

Chocolate stout or Porter beer proved to be another fantastic pairing, as is a glass of German Riesling, where you will find a reminiscence of the cigar’s slightly salty, mineral sensation. The residual sweetness in combination with very light alcohol content and a fresh acidic quality make for a delightful interplay.

In terms of snack or finger food recommendations, I was intrigued by pairing the Toro with mint-chocolate-chip ice cream as well as After Eight. Both offer a gorgeous combination of bittersweet chocolate and a little bit of ethereal freshness – a core element of the CAO Session blend.

Closing Thoughts

Rick Rodriquez is not just an exceptionally talented master blender but he’s also the kind of person you want to hang out with. Whenever Rick was working on a new blend, he would gather some of his best friends neighbours at his garage to have a so-called session. These memories ultimately led to the creation of CAO Session. As a matter of fact, Garage, Bar, and Shop are the onomatopoetic names of the three different vitolas.

Whether you just “sit, smoke, and chill” all by yourself, or gather your pals in your man-cave for a Session occasion: the CAO Session is a perfect accompaniment for any occasion..

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"A special smoke, though intended as an everyday cigar, worthy of a proper man cave meet up."
Bespoke Unit Rating: ★★★★★

Further Reading

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