There has been a ton of hype built up behind CAO’s latest release, the Concert. This cigar is an homage to my hometown of Nashville, TN. Now some of you may or may not know, that CAO was started in Nashville, and was then acquired by General Cigar and then moved to Virginia. The Concert is the second release from CAO since they were acquired. The first release was the OSA SOL.
I was invited to a pre-launch party for the Concert back in May. However, I was unable to attend, but I did get a pre-release sample. That’s not the cigar I smoked though. I wanted to get a version of the cigar that was complete in packaging and didn’t have the plain white band on it.
Now to be completely honest, I haven’t been a huge CAO fan in the past. I’ve had the La Traviata, MX2, LX2, OSA SOL, and others. I’ve never been blown away by them. So, with that said, I’m hoping that the CAO Concert is something that changes my mind about this brand. Lets hop into it and see how what it’s all about.
I must admit, if there is one thing that CAO does better than a lot of other manufacturers, it is how nicely they package their cigars. They constantly put out phenomenal packaging and marketing. The Concert is no different. The band on this cigar is very cool and unique. The middle of the band is in the shape of a guitar pick. On each side of this pick there are two shapes that are similar to the Fender Stratocaster model guitar. Sticking with the theme of music, I think this ties in very well with the Concert. It’s a great looking band and like I said it’s incredibly unique.
Now if you go to your local B&M to pick these up you might find a very special box that these cigars are packaged in. As part of a special edition you can find them in a box that acts as an amplifier. This special box has speakers installed, and you are able to plug in an iPod / iPhone. Anything that has an auxillary plug you can hook up, and play your music through the box. Pretty cool right? Like I said CAO does a great job with packaging, and this might be their best yet.
As far as the look of the cigar, the wrapper is a Ecuadorian Habano Rosado. It has a nice dark brown and slight reddish hue to it. The CAO Concert comes in the traditional parejo shape and has a beautifully applied triple cap on the head. The rest of the wrapper has some very minimal veins, but the ones that are present are incredibly defined and dark. Ok, so it looks incredible, but how’s it going to smoke?
I bought this cigar a couple of months ago and let it age in my humidor for that same amount of time. I like to let cigars sit and even out some, in case they might have been shipped wet, or possibly dried out in the B&M humidor. I like to ‘Sizify’ them and make them my own by getting the humidity to my own level, which is precisely 70.2 % according to my digital hygro.
I went up and down the barrel of this CAO Concert checking the filler with the pinch test to make sure there were no soft spots. In the past, I have had issues with CAO cigars not drawing well, and it’s usually do to the filler being packed too tightly. This stick feels fairly spongy and not overstuffed so I’m excited to jump into it.
The dry draw was a little snug on this stick. It got me a little worried pre light. Although it didn’t feel overstuffed, the dry draw didn’t help to soothe any anxiety of possibly having difficulty smoking this one. Well, lets light it up and see what happens.
I’m sure a lot of you are like me, and like to smoke your cigars in peace. I usually try to get away out in my garage and just relax and read. I was smoking today and I’ll tell ya, the kids across the street must have known I was smoking a Concert. HOLY Cow, they were loud and rowdy. It was like going to a Justin Bieber concert, not that I’ve ever been, but my fiance made me watch his movie on Netflix (I’m not proud of this feat, but it was payback for me making her watch Roadhouse). In my neighborhood we all have aggregate driveways and I’m sure most of you know that if you roll plastic wheels on this material it is not quiet. Well the next door neighbor kids were drag racing their Big Wheels up and down the driveway and around the cul-de-sac for the entirety of this cigar. So yeah, needless to say, I got the effect of being at a concert with screaming kids.
Ok, enough about the ‘relaxing atmosphere’ surrounding this smoke. I made sure to get this CAO Concert off on the right start. I was afraid my lighter was going to run out of fuel before I could get the foot lit, but in actuality it was perfect. The flame was just the right size and I didn’t even char the wrapper on the sides of the barrel. I’m getting pretty good at this task of lighting cigars.
Right out of the gate this stick was burning perfect and even. The smoke production that came off of this was incredible. I was surprised at how much smoke came off of it. After all, the dry draw, was a little more snug than I prefer so I was a little worried about how it would smoke once it got lit.
The first third smoked incredibly well. I was able to hold onto an ash for over an inch. Once the ash fell of it hit the ground and stayed intact. The burn rolls (not sure if they have an exact name, but burn rolls sound good!) were very defined and curled up over each. This is something that I’m always excited to see in my cigar ash. I think it’s a great by product of a perfectly constructed cigar. In fact, the only other burn rolls I’ve seen that are this good, came from the Headley Grange.
The second third and final third smoked exactly the same, even all the way down to the nub. The draw had a perfect amount of resistance and was a breeze to smoke. Even though the kids were rowdy and rambunctious, I was still able to peacefully enjoy this CAO Concert.
I’m always curious as to what new blends and releases hold, flavorwise. This cigar is no different. Hopefully CAO can bounce back after what many agree, myself included, was a lackluster release in the OSA SOL. I had heard a lot of hype and promise about the CAO Concert coming out of the trade show this year. I really wanted to get into this thing and see if it could live up to the hype.
On the pre-light scouting report, I picked up a lot of tobacco and woody notes on the wrapper. On the foot, I was able to pick up some sweetness, a little bit of molasses, and some cocoa.
Once I got it light, the woodiness started to roar. I was picking up a lot of different types of woodiness in the aroma and the flavor. To me the most dominant flavor was something similar to charred oak. It wasn’t bad burnt flavor, it was a elegant charred flavor. It gave off a very smokey flavor and aroma. I’m sure most of you know this smell, either from a campfire or from good ole fashioned hickory smoked barbecue.
I did get a quite a bit of leather and tobacco as well which is to be expected. I could even pick up subtle nuances of sweetness and creaminess. Overall, this cigar had quite a bit of complexity with all the differences that I was able to pick up. One thing that I was hoping for with this cigar was a little bit of variance. I was hoping that the flavors would change up a bit or even kick in some spiciness somewhere. The only time I picked up on the spice was on the retrohale. I would classify it as a nice soft black pepper spice. Nothing overbearing, but definitely there if you’re looking for it.
I was sitting down the entire time I was smoking this CAO Concert. I considered it to be a very mild-medium smoke. Then towards the final third, it just hit me. The strength kicked up a notch and I had a hell of a nicotine buzz when I was finished. It took me by surprise. It was nice to see how it developed from a mild-medium cigar almost into a full strength stick by the end.
Would I Buy It Again?
Oh without a doubt, it was easy to smoke and just a great classic cigar flavor.
Is It an Every Day Smoke?
I think it very well could be, it depends on what’s in your flavor wheelhouse. If you like woodsy / leathery cigars then this is right up your alley.
Would I Buy a Box?
It might be worth it to buy a box. Especially if you want to try and get your hands on one of those collector boxes. It’s a great cigar that almost anyone can enjoy.
All in all, this is a great cigar! To me they redeemed themselves from their previous release, the OSA SOL. This CAO Concert is definitely in my top ten cigars of the year thus far. With the year winding down, I don’t see it getting knocked out of there either.