CAO’s latest release is here, The Hurricane. This blend was released after CAO had a contest in late 2012 called “Last Stick Standing”. They offered 3 packs of different blends that were labeled C, A, and O, and they allowed consumers to vote on what blend they preferred. They tallied all the votes and it turns out that blend O won. This is where the final blend for the Hurricane came from. According to others online, this is supposed to be a limited release of 3,000 10 count boxes.
I picked up this CAO Hurricane at my local shop, UPtowns. I walked into the shop and the manager, Marcus, directed me right to the display of Hurricanes. He knows I always come in looking for the newest stuff to review for the site, and since CAO used to be based in Nashville he was one the first to get these new sticks. Boy did he get a ton of them too. I would say at least 10 boxes. Well that’s all the background info I have about it so lets dive into the review and check it out.
One thing CAO always does well is make some great looking cigars. Their packaging is always top notch. This CAO Hurricane has a beautiful dark brown oily wrapper with very few veins running up and down the length of it. Standing at 6″ x 54 it’s a very large cigar, and I’m sure you know by now I’m not a huge fan of larger cigars so this size isn’t particularly in my wheelhouse.
I’m not exactly sure how CAO landed on the name Hurricane, but they definitely made it known with the labeling on the cigar. The main focal point on the band is a red tentacled spiral shape that is similar to the hurricane symbol you see on the weather channel. Only with about 10x more tentacles coming out of it. It’s a glossy red color trimmed in gold and backed with a solid black color. The tabs on the back of the band have the coastal flag symbol for hurricane, you know what I’m talking about. The red square with a black smaller square positioned inside of it. I love how they execute this branding on the band it’s very similar to what they did with the CAO Concert and the guitars on the tabs of the band. That’s about all there is too look at, so lets dive head first into the function of this stick.
Over the last few years I’ve always been hit or miss with CAO cigars. Some of them have perfect construction and smoke great, others feel like they were rushed through production. I’m not sure if that’s something that happened once they were purchased by General Cigar or not, but I know I had trouble with the OSA Sol and the MX2, but the Concert and La Traviata were excellent. Maybe it’s just me.
Well this CAO Hurricane has a beautifully placed triple cap on the head of the stick. In fact it looks so good I had a little friend crawling on it to give it a closer look. It’s summertime in Tennessee and as soon as I turn on any sort of light I have critters flying around me. For some reason they love cigar smoke too. I gave this stick the ole pinch test and the barrel was quite firm and didn’t really have much bounce back to it. Which to me is a sign of a potentially difficult draw, not always the case, but it could definitely be a possibility.
Time to nip the cap off of this thing and give it a quick cold draw test. The draw is actually pretty wide open considering the firmness of the barrel. So I have some high hopes for this stick thus far. I take a few more puffs and it seems to be drawing very well so I decided it was time to light up this cigar and see what it has to offer.
One thing I love about smoking at night time is that you always know when the foot is properly toasted on a cigar. When I smoke during the day like I did with the Ashton Heritage Puro Sol it’s hard to see when the foot is properly toasted and you risk the chance of charring the wrapper too early which to me, can affect the flavor of the cigar. Luckily, this CAO Hurricane took right to the flame and the foot was toasted before I knew what had hit me.
I began rolling the cigar around to ensure a nice even burning foot. One side of the wrapper wasn’t wanting to follow suit with the rest so I had to give it a nice slap to the side of the head and then it corrected itself. The first third of this cigar smoked very well. The burn wasn’t that even, I had to touch it up a couple times which is fine. Nothing too crazy. I’m just slightly neurotic when it comes to burning straight. I was able to hold the ash on the first third well over an inch. I think I could have held it even longer except for the fact the wrapper was slightly uneven and I wanted to ash it so I could get it burning even again.
Towards the beginning and middle of the second third I began having trouble with this CAO Hurricane and the draw. The cigar was becoming very hot. I wasn’t puffing on it that much, in fact, I tend to let my cigars rest too much. I was noticing there was quite a bit of resistance during this section of the cigar, so I decided to purge it a bit and see if that opened it up. Sometimes I have issues with these larger cigars and the airflow through the larger barrel. Which doesn’t really make sense if you think about it. You would think that the airflow would be easier through a large diameter barrel, but if it’s stuffed with tobacco it’s still going to have a problem with the draw. At one point I had to put the cigar down and let it cool off and then fire it back up. That seemed to help a bit, and then I powered through the rest of the second third.
Magically on the final third the draw issues were gone and it was back to smoking like it did on the first third. Not sure exactly what happened, but I was glad it worked itself out. Made it a little bit easier to enjoy. As I’m sure most of you know this about me, if the cigar doesn’t burn or draw well it can really ruin my experience. During the second third this cigar was on the verge of making me put it out, but I battled through to the finish, for you all, I hope you’re welcome for that. 🙂
Let’s talk about the flavors of this Nicaraguan puro CAO Hurricane. On the pre light tasting I was able to pick up some strong hints of cocoa. Very similar to cocoa powder that you use for baking, there was a sweetness to it, but also a slight hint of bitterness coming through. There were also notes of molasses and sweet wet tobacco on the foot. The cold draw also has a very nice hint of sweetness on the lips when you draw it through. Which is something I always enjoy, I tend to get the sweetness on the cold draw and then it turns out to be a spicy cigar, go figure.
Once I lit up the CAO Hurricane I was able to pick out some nutty and savory notes. There were hints of earth but the nuttiness really stood out above everything else. Not much spice right now which I was surprised about considering this is a Nicaraguan puro (which I didn’t know at the time). I figured it had some Nicaraguan leaf in there because I picked up on some of the coffee notes that I constantly find in most leaf from that country. During this third, the cigar was definitely a mild-medium smoke, not building up too much in terms of body.
The second third is where this cigar almost lost me, between the draw and burn issues it was difficult to really focus on the flavors on this stick. I was able to pick out a few new notes especially on the retrohale, there was a strong spice that I equated to something similar to wasabi. It was like someone shoved a habanero up my nose and lit it on fire. I had to have the fiance come out and shoot an fire extinguisher up my nostrils to put the fire out… Nah, that’s a lie, I just drank some bourbon and toughed it out the manliest way I know how to, with booze… Before the great nostril fire of 2013 I was able to pick up other notes as well, one of the more peculiar scents was a very smokey flavor that reminded me of mesquite wood. Almost like a campfire smell, but a little bit sweeter than that.
The final third of this CAO Hurricane didn’t change too much. Most of the flavors from the first third were present, the spice stayed fairly consistent from the second third and then everything just mellowed and faded out.
Would I Buy It Again?
I don’t think I would. After the draw issues and the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of the flavors, and since it’s only available in one size. I just don’t think I’d buy it again.
Is It an Every Day Smoke?
Definitely not for me.
Would I Buy a Box?
Ehh maybe, because it’s supposedly a limited edition release it might be worth getting as a collectors box, but still would probably spend my money elsewhere.
Overall, I had high hopes for this cigar, I love the packaging, I just wish I loved the cigar more. To me the size was too big and didn’t offer up enough complexity for the length of the smoke. When you combine that with the draw issues I had I would say this is a 7 out of 10 for me. I don’t know if I would go back to well and smoke it again. I was disappointed because I was hoping CAO would be on a roll after releasing the Concert, but this CAO Hurricane didn’t do much for me.