January 23, 2021

Powstanie Wojtek Toro 2020 (War Bear) 6 x 52 Toro






Video review HERE.


(Description taken from Cigar-coop.com website)

The Powstanie Wojtek is a limited edition cigar first launched in 2019 in a perfecto size. The cigar pays homage to the Polish heritage of owners Mike and Greg Szczepankiewicz. The name Powstanie means uprising and pays homage to the resistance movement in World War II Poland against German occupation of the country. As for the name Wojtek, it means “war bear” and refers to a Syrian Brown bear that was actually enlisted in the Polish army during World War II. The Wojtek is best known for moving crates of ammunition to Polish soldiers during the war in 1944.


The blend is highlighted by a barber pole wrapper consisting of an Ecuadorian Habano and San Andres Maduro leaf. The remainder of the blend consists of an Indonesian binder and Nicaraguan fillers. The Toro size measures 6 x 52 and is available in 21-count boxes with a total production of 500 boxes. Production comes out of Fabricas de Nica Sueño in Estelí, Nicaragua.

According to Mike Szczepankiewicz, who also co-owns the Cigar Hustler retail site. “We are releasing them in store today but we will not sell them online until next Friday. It’s important to us that we protect the retailers that support us and give them an opportunity to put them up first.”


Blend and Origin

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano / San Andres Maduro

Binder: Indonesian

Filler: Nicaraguan

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Factory: Fabricas de Nica Sueño


Vitolas Offered

Toro (2020): 6 x 52 REVIEWED TODAY

Perfecto (2019): 5 x 50


The cigar is quite interesting with it's barber pole wrapper and bright red and white band. A reference to the War Bear is shown in the secondary band. The cigar is well made and has a nice feel in the hand.




The test draw after cutting the cap was very good. The initial flavors at light up were pear, brown sugar, thick nutmeg, and earthy black coffee. There was a nice black pepper rated at 8. 



At the first third (35 minutes) the same flavor notes are in play. I had light pear, touch of cedar, brown sugar, quite a bit of nutmeg, leather, a sliver of caramel, and quite a bit of black coffee. The finish is heavy on nutmeg, black coffee, and residue of pear. The lingering black pepper is rather average or below. The cigar is medium bodied. The front end black pepper has dipped a touch to around 7 1/2. The cigar is quite enjoyable at this point. I rated the first third 93.




Moving through the second third (1 hour 8 minutes) the cigar has not changed much. I still had pear, light brown sugar, light caramel, leathery nutmeg, and quite a bit of black coffee. The black pepper has ticked back up to around 8. The finish is unchanged. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The sweeter notes are light so I lowered the score to 92.




The cigar lasted 1 hour 30 minutes. In the final third I had pear, a little of the leathery nutmeg, and a lot of black coffee. The black coffee has continually increased while the sweetness has continually decreased slightly. The black pepper is still very good and the cigar is medium to full bodied. The finish is basically unchanged but there are a little more pear notes now. The lingering black pepper has improved. The overall scope of the cigar is very dark. I rated the final third 91.




Overall Score: 92

January 22, 2021

The Forged Cigar Company announces El Rey Del Mundo coming to brick and mortar cigar shops

Richmond, VA (January 22, 2021) – The Forged Cigar Company, an independent national cigar distribution network that launched on January 13, 2021, announced today that the company will begin selling the legendary Honduran brand El Rey del Mundo to brick and mortar locations across the U.S. starting in February, 2021.

El Rey Del Mundo was previously available exclusively through JR Cigars and Santa Clara Wholesale and rose to become a top-selling, top-rated brand for more than 20 years. The brand has been handcrafted at Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s HATSA factory in Honduras since. Under The Forged Cigar Company, El Rey Del Mundo will debut at retail as a full-time line featuring six frontmarks.


“El Rey Del Mundo is exactly the type of brand that will flourish under The Forged Cigar Company. By introducing this established brand to brick and mortar retailers nationwide and supporting it with customized programming to drive interest among cigar lovers, my team and I will take a brand with great potential to the next level. We look forward to generating a lot noise at retail for El Rey Del Mundo, our first brand to debut under Forged,” said Sean Hardiman, national sales manager of The Forged Cigar Company.

Handcrafted at the HATSA factory in Danli, Honduras, El Rey Del Mundo is a medium-bodied, Cuban-style smoke with rich notes of cocoa, coffee bean and a kick of spice. The Honduran-forward blend is available in a natural version with an Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper and a Connecticut Broadleaf-wrapped maduro, each featuring a Honduran-grown binder and filler.

El Rey Del Mundo will launch with a curated selection of one natural and five maduro offerings, representing El Rey del Mundo’s all-time best-sellers:

Café au Lait (4.5” x 36); SRP per cigar $4.80; available in 24-count boxes

Café Noir OSC (4.5” x 35); SRP per cigar $4.80; available in 24-count boxes

Robusto OSC (5: x 54); SRP per cigar $5.40; available in 20-count boxes

Robusto Larga OSC (6” x 54); SRP per cigar $5.80; available in 20-count boxes

Robusto Supremo OSC (7.25 x 54); SRP per cigar $6.80; available in 20-count boxes

Ronco OSC (6” x 60); SRP per cigar $7.00; available in 20-count boxes

           


   

January 19, 2021

Viaje Holiday Edition 2020 (5 x 54 Box Pressed)





Video review HERE.


(Description taken from Cigar-coop.com website)

Viaje recently shipped two of its popular releases for the Christmas Season. The Viaje Holiday Blend and the Viaje Holiday Blend Candy Cane.

The Viaje Holiday Blend was first introduced in 2009, and has been a near-annual release since then. Over the years, the Holiday Blend has been released in several sizes. The Viaje Holiday Blend 2020 Edition is a 5 x 54 box-pressed Robusto – marking the first time since 2015, it is being released in a box-pressed format.

Blend and production details of this year’s Holiday Blend  and were not disclosed. The size will be a 5 x 54 Robusto – which was the size of the original 2009 Viaje Holiday Blend. The 2020 Holiday Blend is packaged in 30-count boxes.


The cigar features a closed foot.




The test draw after cutting the cap was good with a bit of firmness. The initial flavor at light up were some low levels of citrus with brown sugar, orange peel, a lot of a creamy, thick nutmeg, and a lot of a very earthy black coffee. There was a white pepper rated at 6 1/2 to 7. 



At the first third (22 minutes) the cigar is extremely earthy. There is a ton of black coffee and a ton of earthines. The sweet notes are dwarfed by the extreme earthy black coffee and nutmeg. And, the sweeter notes actually decreased as I went through the first third. There is a touch of bitterness also. The finish is very earthy with black coffee. I rated the first third 82.




As I moved through the second third (43 minutes) things did not improve. There is a twinkle of sweetness as you expel the smoke but it does not blossom. It gets swept out of the way by the earthy black coffee. The cigar is medium bodied. The finish is heavy on the nutmeg and black coffee. I have no idea why this cigar was blended this way but it's not working for me. I rated the second third 80.




At 45 minutes in I decided to stop the review. I'd had enough. The cigar is trending down and the lowest score I issue is 80. The reason; I have too much respect for the industry to issue a lower score. This cigar did not impress me. It's loaded with too much earthy black coffee and nutmeg and not nearly enough sweet notes to counteract the dark notes.

Overall Score: 80

January 17, 2021

Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua No. 2 (6 1/8 x 52)





Video review HERE.


(Description taken from Cigar-coop.com website)

2020 marks the 85th anniversary of the Montecristo brand – and Altadis USA has announced a cigar to commemorate the occasion with the Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua. It’s described as a collaboration between the famed Grupo de Maestros, Tabacalera USA Director of Product Capability Rafael Nodal, and master blender AJ Fernandez.

The first Montecristo was produced back in 1935 and with the Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua, it is described by Altadis USA as using a blend of aged tobaccos meant to pay homage to the original tobaccos used in the first Montecristo cigar.

In the end, the blend consisted of 100% Nicaraguan tobaccos produced in four soft-pressed sizes: Toro (6 x 54), No. 2 (6 1/8 x 52), Churchill (7 x 52) and Demi (5 1/2 x 46). Each is presented in 10-count boxes except the Demi which is in 20-count boxes. According to Cigar Aficionado production for the Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua is being handled out of AJ Fernandez’s San Lotano factory in Ocatel, Nicaragua.

“To honor the age-old tradition of soft-pressing cigars, the Montecristo 1935 Anniversary Nicaragua will be introduced as a soft-pressed series of four sizes,” commented Nodal in a press release, “The cigar offers a luxury showcase from seed to smoke that combines classic craftsmanship and extra-aged estate tobaccos from Nicaragua’s best growing regions.”


Blend and Origin

Wrapper: Nicaragua

Binder: Nicaragua

Filler: Nicaragua

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Factory: San Lotano


Vitolas Offered

Demi: 5 1/2 x 46

Toro: 6 x 54

No. 2: 6 1/8 x 52 REVIEWED TODAY

Churchill: 7 x 52



The cigar is very nice looking. The band is shiny gold foil and really stands out. The cigar is referenced as a soft box press but it's actually quite sharp. It also has a nice feel in the hand.




The test draw after cutting the cap was a bit firm so I used the PerfecDraw tool to open the torpedo cap a little. The initial flavors at light up were a nice cedar/citrus combination, brown sugar, nutmeg, worn leather, and black coffee. There was a tremendous amount of black pepper initially rated at 8 1/2. The flavors remind me of AJ Fernandez's cigars. Nice start.



At the first third (36 minutes) I still had the cedar but now there are notes of creamy nutmeg, brown sugar, quite a bit of worn leather, and a lot of black coffee. There is still a lot of black pepper but it has toned down to around 7 1/2. The finish is creamy nutmeg, residue of brown sugar, and quite a bit of black coffee. There is also a lot of lingering black pepper. The cigar is medium to full bodied at this point. The cigar has sweetness but it has more leather and black coffee. I rated the first third 94.




Moving through the second third (1 hour 11 minutes) the cigar moved up to full bodied. There is a heavy leather presence. There is now cedar, orange peel (a minor amount), brown sugar, nutmeg intertwined with the leather, and a lot of black coffee. The finish is also heavy on the leather, light brown sugar notes, and a lot of black coffee. The lingering black pepper is still very good. With the uptick in leather I lowered the score to 93. 




The cigar lasted an impressive 1 hour 45 minutes. The leather did not increase any more and the sweeter notes made a slight increase. The nutmeg was in check and did not take away from the cigar. There is still quite a bit of leather, black coffee, and black pepper. The cigar is still full bodied. The finish is unchanged. The cigar seemed to get slightly better but not enough to change the score. I held the score of 93 for the final third. Good full bodied, dark noted cigar.



Overall Score: 93.33

January 16, 2021

VegaFina 1998 VF 54 (6 1/10 x 54)





Video review HERE.


(Description taken from Cigar-coop.com website)

Tabacalera S.A. has a new release under its VegaFina brand known as the VegaFina 1998.

The VegaFina 1998 pays homage to the year the VegaFina brand was created. The cigar itself features tobaccos aged for three years. Components of the blend include an Ecuadorian wrapper, Indonesian binder and fillers from Nicaragua, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic. The cigars are available in three sizes – each packaged in ten-count boxes.

The cigar itself is positioned as a more premium offering in the VegaFina line and features packaging to support this – including the use of textured banding and box art.

The VegaFina 1998 is initially being targeted for the European market.


Blend and Origin

Wrapper: Ecuador

Binder: Java Indonesia

Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Colombia

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic

Factory: Tabacalera de Garcia


Vitolas Offered

VF 50: 50 x 115mm (50 x 4 1/2)

VF 52: 52 x 135mm (5 3/10 x 52)

VF 54: 54 x 155mm (6 1/10 x 54) REVIEWED TODAY



The cigar actually looks larger than a 54 ring. It also has a nice feel in the hand.




The test draw after cutting the cap was a bit firm but workable. The first thing I tasted at light up were doughy bread notes. After about 3 minutes the cigar settled down and the notes were orange peel, lime, brown sugar, leathery nutmeg, and black coffee. There was black pepper rated at 7. 



At the first third (33 minutes) the ash is still intact. It's almost white and appears tight. The flavor notes in this cigar are not impressing me. They are now peach, bread, worn leather, and very earthy black coffee. The cigar is medium bodied. The finish is black coffee and bread. The sweeter notes are not intense. The overall taste of the cigar is rather ordinary. I rated the first third 84.




As I moved through the second third (1 hour 12 minutes) the cigar is burning very evenly. The cigar made a modest improvement. There are still light peach notes, orange peel is back, worn leather, and earthy black coffee. The cigar is now a low grade medium to full bodied. The finish is unchanged. The orange peel notes cloak the bread notes which helped the cigar improve. I rated the second third 85.




The cigar lasted 1 hour 50 minutes. In the final third the cigar morphed into something dark and peppery. There is a lot of black coffee, hints of leather, micro-hints of orange peel and brown sugar, and a lot of black pepper, which is now rated at 8. The finish is unchanged. The strength is medium to full bodied. This cigar is lacking on several points. It has nice coffee and pepper notes but that's about it. I rated the final third 82.



Overall Score: 83.67

January 13, 2021

Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG) forms The Forged Cigar Company

Richmond, VA (January 13, 2021) – Scandinavian Tobacco Group A/S (STG) today announced that the company has formed The Forged Cigar Company, an independent national cigar distribution network, and will divide its portfolio of industry-leading brands between General Cigar Company (GCC), an STG subsidiary, and the newly-formed company.

Developed to deepen support for the brick and mortar channel, The Forged Cigar Company will serve as a stand-alone cigar distribution network with its own, initial team of 12 dedicated cigar sales professionals, bolstered by independent marketing and customized programming for its brands.Régis Broersma, senior vice president of STG’s North American Branded and Rest of World division said, “When we announced last year our withdrawal from the annual PCA Show, we committed to investing funds back into the premium cigar category. Today, with The Forged Cigar Company, we are doing just that with a multimillion dollar investment in the brick and mortar channel. In having two separate sales companies, we will have more feet on the street to better serve the needs of STG’s retail partners, and the ability to be more agile in supporting our current and future brands.”

The Forged Cigar Company will also leverage relationships with its proprietary network of cigar factories to deliver product innovations that Broersma describes as “giving the retailer and consumer what they want, when they want it.”

The Forged Cigar Company’s initial portfolio will include a curated mix of established and cult brands such as Partagas, La Gloria Cubana, Bolivar Cofradia, Diesel and Chillin’ Moose. Other manufacturers will be invited to join the Forged roster in the near future.

The Forged Cigar Company hits the streets February 1 Sean Hardiman, a cigar professional with more than 11 years in the premium cigar category in various roles with General Cigar and other cigar manufacturers, has been tapped to lead The Forged Cigar Company sales organization. His background includes roles in retail and sales management across several U.S. markets and he has throughout his career with General Cigar demonstrated an expertise in making brands a success in the competitive category.

“I’m excited to lead this independent network. My team and I will support each brand under the Forged umbrella with its own unique programming, created and executed in partnership with brick and mortar retailers, and we will focus on helping our retail partners grow their business,” said Sean Hardiman, national sales manager of The Forged Cigar Company. Over the past several weeks, The Forged Cigar Company has recruited top-performing cigar salespeople from within the premium cigar industry, each with multiple years of experience and deep relationships with key retailers. Among the new recruits are Nate McIntyre (Springhill, TN); John Gallogly (North Kingstown, RI); Jim Murray (Reading, PA); Cameron Calhoun (Clairsville, PA); Jared Biocca (Somis, CA) and Dave Mealy (Tampa, FL).

Hardiman said, “The Forged team will be ready to hit the streets running on February 1st. We’re looking forward to making our mark on the premium cigar category and to partnering with our network of retailers across the U.S.”

General Cigar’s current sales force remains intact and will continue to support the company’s market-leading brands including Macanudo, CAO, Cohiba, Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey and others.

Havana Q From J.C. Newman Debuts This Month



TAMPA, FL – Did you ever wonder what makes Cuban tobacco so rich and flavorful? Is it the tropical climate? Maybe it’s the volcanic soil? Or is it because of the natural nutrients washed down from nearby mountains over the centuries that has made the soil so especially fertile? Whatever the reason, you can now experience the taste of Cuba with Havana Q from J.C. Newman Cigar Company.

The new cigar Havana Q is a cousin of the J.C. Newman value cigar, Quorum, the number 1 selling bundle cigar out of Nicaragua. These are another value brand cigar, but with important differences. Havana Q comes in a variety of larger ring-gauges, to cater to the modern cigar smoker's contemporary preferences. Havana Q is also offered in a vacuum-sealed humi-bag, making it ideal to store in a variety of brick and mortar locations, offering flexibility to even the smallest of smoke shops.

Handmade at the J.C. Newman PESNA factory in Estelí, Nicaragua, Havana Q is rolled with genuine Havana-seed wrapper grown by the Oliva family on the aluvial plains at the foot of the Cotuguay Mountains in the renowned Guayas tobacco-growing region of Ecuador. The special soil and climate there are comparable to the famed Vinales Valley in the Pinar del Rio province in Cuba. 

"We wanted to bring the essence of Cuba to consumers without breaking the bank," said Drew Newman. "With larger sizes and convenient humi-bag packaging, all varieties of smokers will find something they like in Havana Q."


WRAPPER: Ecuador Havana Seed

BINDER: Nicaraguan

FILLER: Nicaraguan

FACTORY: J.C. Newman PENSA


Havana Q comes in sizes:

6"x 60 - Double Grande

5" x 56 - Double Robusto

6" x 54 - Double Toro

7" x 52 - Double Churchill

Havana Q is sold as individual cigars, as well as a convenient, resealable Humidor bag of 20.

Havana Q will ship from El Reloj, the J.C. Newman Cigar Company factory in Tampa, FL this month, and should arrive on select retailer shelves this month.



January 11, 2021

Protocol Cigars to release Protocol Coppers


Protocol Cigars is pleased to present their first new release of 2021, a shop exclusive called the Protocol Coppers for Vintage Cigar Lounge and Club in Westerly, RI. Like all projects that keep with a law enforcement theme, this project is built around the shop we partnered with. In this case we are doing the project with Vintage Cigar Lounge and Club which happens to be law enforcement owned and operated. Like with every project we want to sculpt the packaging around the shop and personalize it as much as possible. When you think of the word vintage, we think of something old and antique. The old time word for Police offers was “Coppers” because of the roofing material that was used to make their badges. In Britain police were called “Coppers” because of the color of their shinny buttons on their uniforms. We incorporated a vintage look for the packaging. 

The Protocol Coppers is being produced at the La Zona Factory in Esteli, Nicaragua under to care and control of the Espinosa Family. The initial launch vitola will be a Corona Gordo 5 5/8 x 46. The initial production run is 200 ten count bundles with a MSRP of $95.00, with the intention of continuing regular production via Vintage Cigar Lounge and Club. The filler tobacco is from the Dominican Republic, and from the Condega and Esteli region in Nicaragua. The binder is a beautiful Nicaraguan Habano wrapped in an elegant Ecuadorian Rosado leaf. 

The Coppers will assume their post on Saturday, January 23rd, starting with a virtual event beginning at 4pm to 5pm. Then a live small in store limited entry event from 6 to 8pm. As a bonus incentive with every purchase of The Protocol Coppers we are giving away a pre-release of the Protocol Eliot Ness Natural and Maduro, that’s a $25 MSRP value. We wanted to give a special incentive for this very special project! The Protocol Coppers will be available via Vintage’s website: http://www.vintagecigarlounge.com/

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Rosado 

Binder: Nicaraguan Habano 

Filler: Dominican, Nicaragua Esteli & Condega. 

Country of Origin: Nicaragua (La Zona SA)

Size: Corona Gordo 5 5/8 x 46



January 10, 2021

Partagas Limited Reserve Decadas 2020 (6 3/4 x 43 Dalia)





Video review HERE.


(Description taken from Cigar-coop.com website)

After returning for a limited run in 2019, the Partagas Limited Reserve Decadas returns for 2020.

The Partagas Limited Reserve Decadas 2020 is a 6 3/4 x 43 Dalia, a different size than the 2019 edition. The blend is also different. While it still features a Cameroon wrapper (from the 2008-2009 growing season) over a San Andres binder (from the 1997-1998 season) and a filler blend of proprietary tobaccos from the Dominican Republic (Piloto Cubano 2009 crop) and additional San Andres tobacco (also from the 1997-1998 season).

Each cigar is presented in crystal tubes with hand-applied wax closure. Pricing will be set at $17.99.

In a press release, Matt Wilson, senior brand manager of Partagas said, “Partagas Limited Reserve Decadas 2020 brings our venerable Cameroon tobacco to life in an intriguing way through an exclusive blend developed solely for this release. For cigar smokers who appreciate the depth of aged Cameroon wrapper and who seek extraordinary smoking experiences, Partagas Limited Reserve Decadas 2020 is the ultimate super-premium indulgence.”


Blend and Origin

Wrapper: Cameroon (2008-2009)

Binder: San Andres (1997-1998)

Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano (2009) and San Andres (1970)

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic

Factory: General Cigar Dominicana


Vitolas Offered

Dalia:  6 3/4 x 43



For a small ring cigar it has a very good feel in the hand.




The test draw after cutting the cap was good. After having 4 other samples I would suggest storing these cigars at 62%  humidity to open the draw since they are so dense. The initial flavors at light up were apricot, raisin, chocolate, a lot of black coffee, and a lot of black pepper rated at 8. The cigar has a meaty quality. A very nice start.



At the first third (41 minutes) I had the same flavor notes; apricot, raisin, chocolate, black coffee, and now add toffee. The cigar is quite sweet and also dark noted. The black pepper remains very good and still rated at 8+. The finish is apricot and a lot of lingering black pepper. The cigar is already full bodied. The cigar is very sweet and very dark. Very good flavors with plenty of strength. I rated the first third 95.




As I moved through the second third (1 hour 19 minutes) the cigar continued on it's full bodied flavorful path. In the second third I had raisin, molasses, buttery caramel, chocolate, and black coffee. The black pepper is still excellent. The cigar is very full bodied. The finish is fig, caramel, black coffee, and very good lingering black pepper. I maintained the score of 95 for the second third.




The cigar lasted a very impressive 1 hour 43 minutes. A tremendous burn time for a small ring cigar. In the final third the flavor notes seemed to multiply. They are now fig, apricot, molasses, caramel, malt, light chocolate, and plenty of black coffee. The cigar is still very full bodied. The black pepper is still at 8+. The finish is caramel, fig, black coffee, and a lot of lingering black pepper. This is a very good offering from Partagas. And, although it's on the expensive side if you're going to spend that much for a cigar this may be the one to spring for. I rated the final third 96.




Overall Score: 95.33

January 09, 2021

United Cigars releases Wiseman Maduro Firecracker 2021 Limited Release

Nashua, NH – We celebrate our nations independence every year on July 4th with reflection, BBQ’s, Fireworks, Family and with a little taste of freedom in every Limited Release Firecracker from United Cigars. Aside from the regular production United Firecracker there is alwaysthe anticipation of which manufacturers band will adorn the 3.5” x 50 vitola with the original wick as the cap. This year’s collaboration is with Foundation Cigar Company and in true Firecracker form, President and master blender, Nicholas Melillo delivered excellence with the Wiseman Maduro Firecracker.



“This was a fun project to be a part of,” said Nick. “Fitting the depth of Wiseman Maduro into a 3 1/2” vitola was a challenge but what a flavor bomb it is.”

Wiseman Maduro Firecracker

Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A

Wrapper:Mexican San Andres

Binder: Nicaraguan Corojo Jalapa

Filler:Nicaraguan Jalapa, Esteli

Box Count: 20 Cigars

MSRP: $150 Box/$7.50 Single

United Cigars Director of Operations, Oliver Nivaud said, “There are many wicks and fuses to light during Independance Day but only one will give you that bang.”

Shipping to retailers in June of this year, the Wiseman Maduro Firecracker and all Limited Release Firecrackers from United Cigars are available at United Cigar retailers.



CAO Vision 2020 (7 x 50)








Video review HERE.


(Description taken from Cigar-coop.com website)

Over a decade ago in 2007 CAO Cigars released a unique project called CAO Vision. It was unique in a lot of ways because the cigar was the first CAO Cigar to be made in the Dominican Republic (La Aurora) and it was a cigar that featured a unique space-age type box that illuminated. Fast forward to 2020, and today General Cigar announced that CAO Vision would be returning for a limited production run. This time the cigar will be made in Nicaragua and will feature an all-new space-age humidor-box design. It will also be an all-new blend for the CAO Vision that will be highlighted by a Cameroon wrapper.

CAO Master Blender and Ambassador Rick Rodriguez was inspired to develop the Cameroon blend from his years studying under the legendary Benji Menendez.

“Whether traveling across the world visiting cigar shops and even in doing virtual events as I have been for the last several months, the CAO fans always tell me that CAO Cameroon is one of the absolute best Cameroons on the market. It got me thinking about the time I spent learning the art of leaf priming and selection with Benji Menendez. Back then he loved Cameroon wrapper (he still does, by the way), and he spent a lot of time teaching me which tobaccos are the best for bringing out the Cameroon’s natural sweetness. I’ve never developed my own blend with a Cameroon wrapper, and I thought it was time to do it, to share my take on a Cameroon-wrapped cigar with Benji and the fans of CAO. It’s my way of saying thank you for this amazing career I have in the cigar business,” commented CAO’s Rodriguez.

While the original blend was a Dominican-forward blend highlighted by a Dominican wrapper, the 2020 edition of the CAO Vision is entirely different. In addition to the Cameroon wrapper, the blend features an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and Nicaraguan Habano filler from Estelí and Jalapa. The cigar will come in one size – a 7 x 50 Churchill. Production for the CAO Vision comes from the STG Estelí factory.

The packaging features an all-new design for the humidor constructed out of Spanish cedar with piano hinges. The humidor features cascading lights that illuminate the sheen of the Cameroon wrapper and underscore the cigar’s construction.



The cigars have also received upgraded banding from the previous edition.

Pricing will be set at $18.99 per cigar with 20 cigars packaged per humidor. For the U.S. market, 2,500 humidors are being released with an additional 2,000 humidors for select retailers in Europe e and Asia.


Blend and Origin

Wrapper: Cameroon

Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra

Filler: Nicaraguan

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Factory: STG Esteli


Vitolas Offered

Churchill: 7 x 50


The cigar is medium brown and the Cameroon wrapper has a dry appearance. The cigar has a nice feel in the hand and plays off as a larger ring than 50.




The test draw after cutting the cap was good. The initial flavors at light up were cedar, pear, brown sugar, light leather, and very light black coffee base. There was white pepper rated at 6 1/2 to 7. This is the 5th cigar I've sampled. The other 4 were inconsistent. Some were better than others. It will be interesting to see how this sample plays out.



At the first third (37 minutes) the ash is still intact. The flavors in this cigar could be called mild. They don't jump out at you. The strength of the cigar is actually mild to medium. I now have tangy cedar, cherry, brown sugar, honey, nutmeg, and very light black coffee. The finish is honey and nutmeg very low lingering white pepper. The notes are not hitting on all cylinders at this point. I rated the first third 86.




Moving through the second third (1 hour 27 minutes) there was a modest improvement. I now have toffee notes with a tangy cedar, honey, brown sugar, and light black coffee which is somewhat elevated. The cigar is a low grade medium to full bodied. The white pepper has improved a little and is now up to 7. The finish is light brown sugar and slightly improved lingering white pepper. To me, the cigar is not hitting on the Cameroon and Nicaraguan cylinders very much. The cigar is moderately better so I raised the score to 87.




The cigar lasted an impressive 2 hours. There was another slight improvement in the final third. The toffee and brown sugar notes are nice. The tangy cedar is decreased. The black coffee improved. The pepper improved. The cigar ended at medium to full bodied. The finish has pear, brown sugar, and improved lingering pepper, which is now tasting like black pepper. The cigar improved a little but it's still not impressing me. I rated the final third 88.



Overall Score: 87