Last week I had the pleasure of meeting CAO Master Blender, Ricky Rodriguez at an event at my local shop – Executive Cigar Shop and Lounge. By now you should have read the short article on Ricky and as promised, I will now review the new and limited CAO Zócalo . Before we get into the review itself, I would like to introduce you to the Zócalo . This is the first time CAO has ever used Mexican leaf in a cigar blend. Ricky himself wanted to feature something unique and different so they chose some amazingly beautiful, low grit Mexican San Andrés leaf for the wrapper.
Now since this is a Mexican Wrapped cigar, you guessed it, they will be hitting the shelves in time for Cinco De Mayo so you too can celebrate the day while puffing on Zócalo . Of course the name is also critical to a cigar, it is how the brand is marketed and the word Zócalo is Spanish for Town Square and that is precisely what the main square in Mexico City is known as. In fact, prior to the colonial period, it was the main ceremonial center in the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan.
I was told by Ricky that this is a one and out style of cigar, with a limit of 3,500 20-count boxes. It comes in just one 6 x 60 vitola and retails for an, easy on the pocket, $8.49 USD or 161.54 Mexican Pesos
Those that know me should recognize that I am not a fan of big ring gauges but every sample is worth a try, So let me say here and I was impressed with this one.
Besides the Mexican San Andrés wrapper, Ricky went further and created an amazing blend under that dark wrapper which is described as:
- Wrapper – Mexican San Andrés
- Binder – Cameroon
- Filler – Nicaraguan
Now that you know the background let’s get on with the review
The CAO Zócalo is a great looking cigar with an oily, coffee bean brown, wrapper that has a light grit to it and minimal veins.
I think I am going to start describing San Andrés leaf like hardware stores classify sandpaper. This would be like a 600 grit as opposed to some others that are like a rougher 120 or even 80 grit.
I was told by Ricky that the wrapper leaf is special and is known as Morrón wrapper grown in the San Andrés Valley.
The head of the Zócalo is fished with a well applied double cap.
There is a single band that adorns the cigar. It is uses a dark cream, red, and black motif with a black silhouette of the Zócalo in Mexico City on the red background and the CAO on top and Zócalo on the bottom.
Giving the old sniff test, I picked up a pungent aroma along the barrel and a delectable sweetness, earth, and cocoa off the foot.
I sliced the cap and gave it some deep cold draw puffs. There was a perfect restriction for the ring gauge, just a little more open than I would normally experience in a good toro. The cold draw offered notes of toasted caramel sweetness (almost like cotton candy) and some light peppery spice. If the rest of the cigar has flavors like this I will be sad when it is turned to ash.
Cigar Review Notes
- Early Smoke is sweet caramel with a light peppery spice on the nose
- White ash develop and rests on a fairly thin char line
- Sweetness continues to grow in the first inch in both flavor and aroma
- Ash is solid
- Very smooth first inch
- Coffee notes enter to join the caramel sweetness along with a dried fruit component
- Ash finally fell after the first third with a perfectly centered strawberry bud burn cone
- Enticing caramelized sugar aroma midway
- Oils are building nicely on the wrapper
- Mild spice enters blending well with the sweetness
- Slight coffee bean note joins the mix
- Creamy fruit – much like a Panna cotta desert – rounds out the second third
- Peppery spice builds on the lips going into final third
- Strength picks up in the end
- Medium to Full in Strength
- Total Smoking Time was
Overall, the CAO Zócalo was an awesome big ring gauge cigar that had zero burn issue from foot to nub. The flavor sensations from the cold draw through the complete journey was stupendous and kept the palate intrigued. I especially enjoyed the sweetness, cream and fruit that played through. I highly recommend picking up some of these before they are gone. As for me I have one more which I will enjoy on Cinco de Mayo with a few tasty Strawberry Margaritas.