September 23, 2020

Cigars International to Host Virtual CIGARFest 2020

Bethlehem, PA (September 23, 2020) – Cigars International (CI) announced today that the company will host “Virtual CIGARFest 2020,” a weekend of entertaining events, special guests, informative interviews and over-the-top raffle prizes on Friday, October 16th and Saturday, October 17th.

Virtual CIGARfest 2020 kicks off on Friday, October 16th at 10:30 AM EST and runs through Saturday, October 17th at 5 PM EST. All events will be broadcast on the CIGARfest Facebook page, where cigar fans can join in and chat with their favorite cigar makers. For those unable to watch live, each interview will also be uploaded to the Cigars International YouTube channel, once the interview is complete.

Steve McDevitt, director of sales and customer service for Cigars International, said, “We cannot put into words how disappointed we were in having to cancel CIGARfest 2020, and we couldn’t let the year go by without having a virtual event. Let’s face it, nothing can replace enjoying a cigar with friends, both old and new, in person. But we can get pretty darn close. Virtual CIGARfest 2020 will be the next best thing to the real thing, and we’re all ready to make this the premier virtual cigar event of the year.”

Cigar celebrities from Drew Estate, Oliva, Altadis U.S.A, Macanudo, CAO, Diesel, Quality Importers, Xikar, Rocky Patel, Perdomo, Room101, and Southern Draw will make special appearances during virtual CIGARFest 2020. Each event will be fully interactive, with cigar makers taking questions from the online audience. Additionally, those watching live will have opportunities to win exciting prizes during each and every segment.

All cigar lovers of legal smoking age can enjoy Virtual CIGARFest2020. There are no ticket sales, sign-up requirements or other prerequisites for participating.

For more information about Cigars International’s Virtual CIGARfest 2020 and to see the full schedule of events, please visit the Virtual CIGARfest 2020 Facebook page at

September 22, 2020

Espinosa 601 La Bomba Warhead VI (5 x 58 figurado)

 Video review HERE.

(Description taken from website)

Espinosa Cigars has launched the sixth installment of its 601 La Bomba Warhead Series, the Warhead VI.

The 601 La Bomba Warhead Series was first introduced back in 2013, and with a few exceptions has been an annual release. The Warhead Series features a Broadleaf Maduro wrapper over Nicaraguan binder and fillers. Each year’s release has been in a different size. When it comes to the Warhead VI, there are a number of unique characteristics.

First up, the Warhead VI is a 5 x 58 figurado – making it the thickest installment of the Warhead Series to date. Second, the Warhead VI is rounded – marking the first time in the series it is not box-pressed.  Like the rest of the 601 line, the 601 La Bomba Warhead VI is produced at AJ Fernandez’s San Lotano factory in Ocotál, Nicaragua. A total of 1,000 ten-count boxes have been produced.

The cigar is beautiful and rather dense feeling. 

The test draw after cutting the cap was very tight. The narrow foot probably contributed to this fact. So, I used the PerfecDraw tool to try and help the draw. It did not improve that much. After the burn got past the "nipple" the draw really opened up. The initial flavors at this point were dark chocolate, citrus, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, leather, and a lot of black coffee. I had black pepper rated at an 8. The flavors in this cigar taste very powerful. The cigar has nice sweetness but it has a lot of dark notes.

At the first third (39 minutes) the cigar has the same flavors but the dark chocolate and black coffee has just about taken over. The leather is all throughout the mix. The sweeter notes are very diminished due to the elevation of the darker notes. The cigar is now full bodied. It's not knocking me down at this point but it's full bodied. The finish is a leathery nutmeg with pretty good lingering black pepper. I feel that this cigar will appeal to a select group. Those who like the previous Warheads will like this version. I rated the first third 92.

As I moved through the second third (1 hour 2 minutes) the cigar took a big swing upward. The sweeter notes really came out. They matched, or slightly surpassed the darker notes. The finish has more nutmeg to go along with the leather and there are now light brown sugar notes to give some sweetness. The lingering black pepper has improved. The overall black pepper in the cigar has improved. I rated the second third 94.

The cigar lasted 1 hour 28 minutes. In the final third the cigar reverted, in may ways, back to the way it was in the first third. In this third the nutmeg made a big move up. The leather was much decreased. The sweeter notes also decreased. The finish is unchanged. The cigar is still full bodied. The cigar has really bounced around. I rated the final third 92. Overall a pretty good cigar.

Overall Score: 92.67

September 21, 2020

Protocol Jane Doe 2.0

Pennsylvania, Monday, September 21st, 2020.

Protocol Cigars announces their second release in the Protocol Jane Doe Series with the Jane Doe 2.0. Jane Doe is the name given to unidentified females until identification can be made at a later time. The cigars will be available in 10 count bundles with a 89.99 MSRP. The wrapper, binder, and filler are unidentified at this time. The only information available is place of birth. At this time it has been confirmed that the place of birth is the La Zona Cigar Factory in Esteli, Nicaragua. This installment in the series is a true limited release with only 200 bundles in a 6X50 vitola, with an unidentifiable plain white cigar band. Jane Doe 2.0 will be available for purchase one time only, never to be released again. Once they are gone, they will be gone forever. 

Pedigree information: 

Wrapper: Unidentified

Blinder: Unidentified

Filler: Unidentified 

POB: La Zona, Esteli, Nicaragua 

Protocol Cigars is proud to offer this installment through Smoke Inn Smoke Shop, and their online site: The release date will be Thursday, October 1st, 2020. There will be a Virtual Event on that date starting at 7pm EST. Abe Dababneh, owner of Smoke Inn will be in attendance during the Virtual Event on Zoom. Bundles sales will be available to the public on a first come, first served basis during this Virtual Event. 

"Smoke Inn is happy to partner with Protocol Cigars on this latest installment of the Jane Doe Series. I strive to offer my customers unique projects like this to give them a one of a kind smoking experience and this project does that perfectly” said Abe Dababneh, owner of Smoke Inn. 

Kevin Keithan, co-owner of Protocol Cigars added “Staying true with the original Jane Doe, the Jane Doe 2.0 is a very elegant and sophisticated smoking experience. This may be the best release yet in the Doe Series to date and at only 200 bundles it’s going to be gone in minutes. It’s definitely been my favorite Doe thus far.” 

September 20, 2020

Roma Craft Neanderthal LH (4 3/4 x 56 box pressed)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from website)

In 2014 RoMa Craft Tobac would debut a new brand in its portfolio known as the Neanderthal. The line is intended to be a powerhouse in terms of strength, yet deliver a very flavorful smoke. At the time the line debuted in one size – the Neanderthal  HN, and while a more limited production offering, Neanderthal became a popular offering among RoMa Craft Tobac fans. Since then the line has expanded to nine offerings – still offered at a limited production capacity. The ninth offering, the Neanderthal LH, debuted in 2019. It was unique in that it would be RoMa Craft Tobac’s first Neanderthal offering to be box-pressed. In addition, the blend was tweaked to make it even stronger than any of its predecessors. Today we take a closer look at the Neanderthal LH.

RoMa Craft Tobac co-founder Skip Martin was developing the concept for Neanderthal, he discovered that increasing the strength of the blend through adding ligero is something that really did work. At the same time, Martin learned that different tobaccos have different nicotine levels. He was introduced to a Pennsylvania Double Ligero leaf known as Green River Valley Sucker One (GR-S1). This is a regrowth leaf from Pennsylvania broadleaf that has a naturally higher nicotine level (between 9% to 13% – significantly higher than the 5% – 6% found in Estelí Ligero). Using this leaf allowed Martin to increase the blend’s strength. The difference is when it comes to the Neanderthal LH, Martin has stated the blend uses a whole leaf of the GR-S1 tobacco – which is nearly two to three times the amount found in the original Neanderthal HN line.

Blend and Origin

While Pennsylvania GR-S1 may be the secret sauce to the Neanderthal line, there are tobaccos from four countries in this blend. This includes a Mexican San Andres wrapper, a U.S. Connecticut binder, and tobaccos from Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and of course the Pennsylvania GR-S1 leaf. As with all production for RoMa Craft Tobac cigars, it is handled out of the Nica Sueño factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

Wrapper: Mexican San Andres

Binder: U.S. Connecticut Broadleaf

Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican, Pennsylvania GR-S1

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Factory: Fabrica de Tabacos Nica Sueño S.A

Vitolas Offered

The Neanderthal LH is offered in one size – 4 3/4 x 56 box-pressed viola. The cigar is presented in 15-count boxes.

The cigar is a dark brown rectangular block. The cap is flat. The box press is rather sharp. Nice looking cigar.

The test draw after cutting the flat cap was very good. The initial flavors at light up were chocolate, citrus, citrus peel, brown sugar, leather, nutmeg, and black coffee. There was black pepper rated at 7 1/2. The leather and orange peel seem to be teaming up for their own unique flavor. Nice start.

At the first third (31 minutes) the cigar settled down nicely. I did not have as much orange peel at this point. There are now also cinnamon notes in the cigar. The cigar is very smooth. There is not an extreme amount of chocolate or coffee in this heavy maduro cigar. All the flavors are starting to meld together. The cigar is a high grade medium to full bodied. The finish is nutmeg and semi-sweet chocolate with a nice amount of lingering black pepper. The cigar is much better now than it was at the outset. I rated the first third 95.

Moving through the second third (54 minutes) the chocolate notes really came out. But, the orange peel notes have also increased. The cigar is now full bodied but it's very manageable with a little something on your stomach and smoking the cigar slowly. The other notes of brown sugar, light cinnamon, light leather, nutmeg, and black coffee are still in play. The front most flavor if citrus is now tasting more like cedar. The finish has nice chocolate notes with a dribble of citrus sweetness and nutmeg. The lingering black pepper is very good. The cigar took a slight turn downward. I rated the second third 94.

The cigar lasted 1 hour 17 minutes. In the final third the cigar reverted back to the nice overall sweetness and very decreased orange peel. It's hardly noticeable now. Now there are nice chocolate, brown sugar, and cinnamon notes, subdued orange peel notes, light leather, nutmeg, and black coffee. The cigar remains full bodied. The finish is unchanged. The cigar really bounced back and I like it. I rated the final third 95. A very good addition to the Neanderthal line.

Overall Score: 94.67

September 19, 2020

HVC Hot Cake Laquito #5 (6 x 54)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from website)

HVC Hot Cake features a San Andres wrapper with Jalapa Corojo ’99 with Esteli Corojo ’98 for the binder and filler. Both varietals are from the Aganorsa Farms. In addition, the fillers utilize three different varieties of a newer tobacco called Corojo 2006 Maduro. Production is handled at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA) in Estelí, Nicaragua.

The cigars will be available in three sizes: Each is presented in 25-count boxes.

Blend and Origin

Wrapper: San Andres Maduro

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. (TABSA)

Vitolas Offered

Corona Gorda: 46 x 5 5/8 (SRP $7.40)

Laguito #4: 52 x 4 1/2 (SRP $8.00)

Laguito #5: 54 x 6, SRP $9.00) REVIEWED TODAY

The cigar is not very dark for a maduro but it has a very dense feel in the hand.

The test draw after cutting the cap was pretty good. The initial flavors at light up were cocoa, cedar, sour nutmeg, brown sugar, and a light black coffee base. There was a nice amount of black pepper rated at 7 1/2 to 8. 

At the first third (33 minutes) the cigar has changed. The cocoa is now dark chocolate. The sour nutmeg is now an orange peel which combines with nutmeg and light leather notes. I still had brown sugar and a black coffee base. The finish has orange peel, nutmeg, and dark chocolate with a nice amount of lingering black pepper. The cigar is a high grade medium bodied. This is a nice cigar. It has sweet notes, dark notes, and leather notes. I rated the first third 95.

As I moved through the second third (1 hour 9 minutes) the cigar seemed to improve. I now had defined citrus, citrus peel, brown sugar, a touch of cinnamon, dark chocolate, leathery nutmeg, and an earthy black coffee. The sweeter notes are much more pronounced. The orange peel seems to be combining with the leather and the black coffee. The cigar is now medium to full bodied, leaning toward full bodied. The finish is unchanged. I rated the second third 96.

The cigar lasted an impressive 1 hour 43 minutes. In the final third the cigar had more changes. The dark chocolate and black coffee notes really moved up. The sweeter notes declined a bit. This was a rather large change from the middle section. I like the dark chocolate notes. But the decline of the sweeter notes caused the score to drop a bit. The finish is unchanged. The cigar is a high grade medium to full bodied. I rated the final third 94. The cigar is still very good but darker at this point. Overall this is an excellent cigar.

Overall Score: 95

September 18, 2020

Crowned Heads Las Calaveras Edicion Limitada 2020 LC56 (6 x 56)

Video review HERE.

(Description taken from website)

Crowned Heads has released Las Calaveras Edición Limitada (EL) 2020, the seventh installment of the annual series that pays homage to the Year of the Dead, will return on July 1st.

Las Calaveras was first launched in 2014 and has been an annual release. Las Calaveras pays homage to those who have passed away over the past year. As opposed to being a mournful symbol, it is intended to be a celebration of those lives and remembrances of those who are no longer with us. As with most of the previous blends, the bands of each release of Las Calaveras have contained the initials of four deceased individuals.

First introduced in 2014, the limited-edition Las Calaveras was created as a yearly tribute to those who have passed away the previous year and is intended to be a celebration of life, focusing on happy memories rather than the pain and sadness of loss. In commemoration, every release of Las Calaveras has four coins adorning the band featuring the initials of four individuals who have passed away in the last year.

For the third time and the second consecutive year, Las Calaveras EL 2020 consists of an Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro cover leaf and Nicaraguan binder and filler. The cigars will be released in four sizes: LC48 (5 1/2 x 48), LC52 (5 x 52), LC56 (6 x 56), and Torpedo (6 1/8 x 52). The Torpedo will be available as a part of a four-count sampler featuring one of each of the Las Calaveras EL 2020 sizes. The LC48, LC52, and LC56 will be available in 24-count boxes. Production is handled by My Father Cigars in Estelí, Nicaragua – who has produced every release of Las Calaveras to date.

A total of 1,000 boxes of each size and 500 samplers have been produced.

Blend and Origin

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Factory: My Father Cigars SA

Vitolas Offered

LC48: 5 1/2 x 48

LC52: 5 x 52


Torpedo: 6 1/8 x 52 (Sampler only)

The cigar is quite dense feeling 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 a cedar with some citrus influence, brown sugar, light caramel, leathery nutmeg, and black coffee. There was black pepper rated at 7 1/2. A nice sweet, leathery start.

At the first third (32 minutes) the cigar is burning very evenly. The cigar has transitioned a little. I now have a little orange peel flavor. The leather is a somewhat subdued. The finish has some of the citrus and citrus peel, a touch of brown sugar, and nutmeg. There was a modest amount of lingering black pepper. The cigar is medium bodied at this point. The front end lead flavor is now more of a citrus with cedar influence. They've switched places. The black coffee base is somewhat subtle. The cigar is quite enjoyable at this point. I rated the first third 94.

As I moved through the second third (1 hour 9 minutes) the nutmeg and leather notes have come out. They have risen along with the black coffee. As a result the sweeter notes have slightly decreased. The cigar is now medium to full bodied. The finish now has a little leather, citrus, and nutmeg. The flavor notes have not changed but their percentages have changed. I am still enjoying the cigar. I rated the second third 93.

The cigar lasted 1 hour 33 minutes. The final third went along just about like the second third with the elevated nutmeg and leather and lowered amounts of sweeter notes. The cigar reached full bodied. The finish is unchanged. I held the score of 93 for the final third. This is one of the better Las Calaveras cigars I've had. I enjoyed it.

Overall Score: 93.33

Liga Privada Unico Serie Pancetta Returns to Wooden Indian and Barrister Cigars

Friday, September 18, 2020 — Miami, FL- Drew Estate announces today the 2020 release of the limited-edition Liga Privada Unico Serie Pancetta, an exclusive cigar to the two Liga Privada Lounges, Wooden Indian Tobacco Shop in Havertown, PA and Barrister Cigars in Union, NJ.  The Pancetta will be available beginning on September 25th, when each of these exclusive retailers will be hosting a special virtual launch event.

The Liga Privada Unico Serie Pancetta is the union of two renowned Liga Privada blends, Liga Privada T52 and the Liga Privada Unico Feral Flying Pig. Featuring a Connecticut Stalk Cut and Cured Habano capa, this cigar starts off with a spice blast and hearty aroma, leading the enthusiast on the complex journey through “LigaLandia.” To add raw might to the blend, a bold Brazilian Mata Fina binder and powerful filler leaves from Nicaragua and Honduras were selected. These binder and filler leaves are the very same that go into the Liga Privada Unico Feral Flying Pig. These majestic tobaccos are skillfully rolled into a 4 ¾” x 50 belicoso, identified by a 2020 Release footband, to make for an unforgettable smoking experience.

From the Wynwood Safehouse, Jonathan Drew President and Founder of Drew Estate adds, "The Pancetta brings us back to the early days of the Liga Privada brandmark, representing the important brick & mortar friendships that deeply contributed to our initial success with the brand.  We took the approach of selecting a small group of accounts who we felt believed most highly in the LP project ... and slowly, carefully, one-by-one, added accounts that shared our vision for the Connecticut River Valley, as well as a "Stalk Cut - Stalk Cured" process.  Barrister Cigars and Wooden Indian were among our first accounts, immediately understanding the vision and showing the love and passion for the brand.  The Pancetta is so crazy dope that I firmly suggest listening to the song "Dope Beat" while smoking this banga ... btw ... that's Boogie Down Productions for those who don't know ... "who got the dope beat ... we got the dope beat!!!""

David Mallow, owner of Barrister Cigars notes, “Since the opening of our Liga Privada Lounge with Jonathan Drew and the National Launch of two sizes of T52, Liga Privada has continually been one of the bestselling lines in our store. Our customers seek us out because of our Liga Privada selection and hard to find DE classics.”

David Mayer, owner of Wooden Indian, adds, “We were one of the first stores in the country to bring in Liga Privada, and we consider it a cornerstone of our humidor.”

The Liga Privada Unico Pancetta is packaged in 24 count boxes with an MSRP of $299.00/box, sold exclusively through Wooden Indian Tobacco Shop and Barrister Cigars. It will be available at a virtual launch event held at 5:00pm on September 25th, consumers can register via Zoom at

September 16, 2020

Cigars International Opens Superstore in Fort Worth

Bethlehem, PA (September 15, 2020) – Cigars International (CI) announced today that the company has opened a CI Superstore in Fort Worth. The new store marks Cigars International’s second Superstore in Texas and the company’s fifth retail location in the U.S.

The 8,000-square foot store is billed as the ultimate cigar lover’s destination, selling over 1,200 varieties of cigars. Designed to replicate a Northeast tobacco barn and complete with a large-scale timber truss, CI Fort Worth is outfitted with an expansive, full service bar and lounge, a private event space for up to 30 people and more than 3,000 square feet of patio space with three outdoor fire pits for chilly Texas evenings. Comfortable lounge seating, Wi-Fi and USB ports are available throughout the store to enhance the experience of CI guests, and a staff of 43 employees has been put in place to meet their needs.

Mat Cook, director of retail operations for Cigars International said, “At Cigars International, our focus is not on selling cigars or accessories, but on selling an experience. We offer a welcoming, educational environment, so that everyone of legal smoking age can enjoy the pleasure of a handmade cigar and the camaraderie of fellow smokers. We look forward to sharing our hospitality and our spectacular new store with the cigar lovers of Fort Worth and North Texas.”

Cigars International Fort Worth is located at 12853 Cabela Drive in Fort Worth, near Cabela’s. The CI retail store is open Monday through Thursday from 9 AM to 11 PM; Friday and Saturday from 9 AM to 12 AM and on Sunday from 9 AM to 10 PM. The bar is open Monday through Thursday through from 11 AM to 12 AM; on Friday and Saturday from 11 AM to 2 AM and on Sunday from 12 PM to 12 AM.

All employees have been trained on environmental cleaning, disinfection and respiratory etiquette and protocols have been put in place to comply with federal, state and local regulations for COVID-19.

Due COVID-19 restrictions, the retail store capacity is limited to 50%.

Once federal, state and local mandates for COVID-19 are lifted, the in-store bar will open and the date for a grand opening event will be announced.

CI plans to execute monthly in-store events, welcoming local luminaries, cigar makers and spirits brand ambassadors for educational seminars, pairing events and more. The schedule will be announced at a later date.

September 14, 2020

Protocol Cigars announces the release of 5 Families

Pennsylvania, Monday, September 14th 2020

Protocol is proud and excited to present a very special limited edition cigar called the 5 Families. This cigar is special because it marks the company’s first ever 6X60 cigar size. It is a project that is giving homage to the fundamentals of the company. The 5 families is a project to showcase consumer based cigar clubs. Protocol has chosen 5 Cigar Clubs that support the company and has again partnered with Famous Smoke Shop to release the cigar. 

Fat Ash was founded in 2014 by Dax Single and Brad Weidenhammer, but later rebranded in 2016 where they brought in David Papp. Fat Ash has over 2,700 members on their facebook group page. Protocol created a Fat Ash Cigar for them in 2018, which has grown to become a yearly release, with the latest installment being Fat Ash Year 3 in 2020. 

Smokehouse Gorillas was founded in 2017 by Al LaPeter. They have 1,300 members on their facebook group page. They consider themselves a HERFing Community. Protocol Cigars have done Smokehouse Gorilla events with the club in the past and maintains a great relationship with them. 

Distinguished Ruffians was founded in 2014 by Mitch Rockwell. Distinguished Ruffians have over 10,000 members nationwide and with 15 chapters, they are the largest Cigar Club in this project. Learn more about them at

BOTL PA Chapter, Brothers Of The Leaf is a term we have all heard before and it is a testament to the brotherhood that is shared for the love of cigars. The BOTL movement has chapters in every state. The BOTL PA Chapter was founded in 2017 by Rick Riley. They have grown to over 1,700 members. 

Last but not least is the Sheepdog Cigar Club, founded in 2018 by Brian Peck. It is the youngest cigar club in this project, they have about 200 members and a facebook group. Sheepdog Cigar Club is a Non-Profit 501(c)(3). Sheepdog Cigar Club brings six distinct groups of people together (Police, Fire, EMS, Dispatch, Corrections, and Military).  However, Sheepdog Cigar Club members share two things in common, a passion for the fine art of hand rolled cigars and a dedication to public service. Sheepdog Cigar Club raises funds and collects essential supplies to support local Police & Fire K-9s Units. Learn more about Sheepdog Cigar Club and how to help out K-9 units at 

The 5 Families will go on sale on Saturday, October 3rd, 2020 at Famous Smoke Shop from 1pm to 5pm, located at 90 Mort Drive, Easton, PA 18040. The event will be held outdoors with the Leaf Cigar Bar and Restaurant working at a 50% Capacity as per PA CDC/DOH Covid 19 regulations. There are 100 ten count bundles available. The blend is a Ecuadorian Habano wrapper with Nicaraguan binder and filler. This vitola marks the company’s first ever 6X60 size. They will come in 10 count paper bundles with an MSRP of $99.99. The initial 100 bundles will be available at the time of the event. If there are any left, they will go on sale via Famous Smoke Shop: telephone 610.559.8800 starting Sunday, 10/04. Part of the proceeds of this event will go to Cigars for Warriors. While the FDA has put an end to cigar companies donating cigars to this incredible organizations, they have no say in monetary support. To learn more about Cigars for Warriors or to make a donation, please visit

“We are excited to do something special for these 5 cigar clubs that support us!” said founder and owner Juan Cancel. Kevin Keithan, owner added; “For this special project we wanted to do a special vitola. Everyone has been asking us for a 6X60 offering... so here they go, but they will go fast!” Nicole Patoki, General Manager of Famous Smoke Shop explained; “We are so happy to be teaming up with Protocol Cigars once again, along with these 5 phenomenal Cigar Clubs in support of Cigars for Warriors!” 

5 Families:

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano

Binder: Nicaragua 

Filler: Nicaragua 

Vitola: 6X60

MSRP: $99.99

September 13, 2020

CAO Pilon Robusto Extra (5 x 52)


Video review HERE.

(Description taken from website and CAO)

CAO is a brand long known for a reputation of innovation. With the CAO Pilon, it incorporates innovation a little differently – namely it uses an old Cuban fermentation technique that had been popular in the 19th century, but has not been used much in the past fifty years. Most tobacco is fermented by arranging tobacco in large rectangular stacks called pilons. The CAO Pilon is different in that it uses tobacco that is fermented in circular shaped pilons. This technique was eventually abandoned due to being a costly process. CAO Master Blender Rick Rodriguez began experimenting with this fermentation technique about five years ago and was pleased with the results, so he went forward to create a blend which has become the CAO Pilon.

CAO explained that using the rounded pilons resulted in creating tobacco with better tobacco flavor and aethestics of the tobacco compared to other techniques. As a part of this process, the tobacco is fermented at a lower temperature, thus increasing the fermentation cycle. It is this longer fermentation process combined with the labor needed to arrange the pilons that led to this technique falling out of favor.

An example of how the circular pilons look is shown on the band.

Earlier this year CAO Pilón was named “Cigar of the Year” by celebrated international cigar magazine L’Amateur de Cigare.

The magazine’s prestigious tasting panel rated a total of 450 cigars, with Pilón ultimately winning out against the finest cigars available in France, one of the world’s leading markets for handmade cigars.

Regis Broersma, president of General Cigar said, “We are extremely proud that CAO Pilón received this honor from such a distinguished and respected international publication. When we created Pilón, we developed the brand according to a 19th-century Cuban fermentation technique, so it is ironic that Pilón beat out the best of the best cigars from Cuba, as well as other top cigar-producing countries.”

L’Amateur de Cigare described Pilón as “elegant” and hails its “great complexity and agreeable persistence,” while praising Pilón’s “satisfying finish” and “excellent value.”

CAO Pilón was introduced in the U.S. in 2015 and launched in France in 2018 at an exclusive event in Paris at the DuPont headquarters.


Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaragua

Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Scandinavian Tobacco Esteli)

Available in these sizes:

Churchill 7x 48 – SRP per cigar $8.49

Robusto Extra 5 x 52 – SRP per cigar $7.49 REVIEWED TODAY

Corona 5.5 x 44 – SRP per cigar $7.09

Toro 6 x 58 – SRP per cigar $8.49

Torpedo – 7 x 54 - SRP per cigar $8.89

The cigar is medium brown and has a nice feel in the hand.

The test draw after cutting the cap was good with a touch of firmness. The initial flavors at light up were a pink grapefruit sweetness, sweet cream, citrus peel, brown sugar, light leather, and light black coffee. There was a light white pepper rated at 7. 

At the first third (36 minutes) the flavors are just like initially described. There is a distinctive pink grapefruit sweetness combined with a lot of sweet cream. The brown sugar adds more sweetness. There is light black coffee and leather but you will really notice the pink grapefruit and cream combination. The cigar is medium bodied. The finish is citrus, cream, and light nutmeg with a modest amount of lingering white pepper. There is light nutmeg at best on the front end and not really noticeable at this point. I rated the first third 93.

Moving through the second third (1 hour 16 minutes) the flavors seem to be improving. The leather and nutmeg are coming out a little more and that's good because the cigar needed some more lower level notes. The cigar is medium to full bodied. The finish has a little leather on it now to go along with the citrus, cream, and nutmeg. I raised the score to 94 for the second third.

The cigar lasted an very impressive 1 hour 43 minutes. An incredible amount of time for a 5 inch cigar. The flavors actually continued to improve. There is more sweetness now; more brown sugar. And now there are also cedar notes. The leather, nutmeg, and black coffee are now more pronounced, which is good. The cigar hit full bodied, which surprised me a little. The finish is unchanged. I raised the score to 95 for the final third. This is a surprisingly good cigar that should not be missed.

Overall Score: 94