The CAO Amazon Basin was one of the cigars that jumped out at me at ICPPR 2014. You see a ton of cigars on the trade show floor, but the look and the smell of the Amazon Basin stuck with me. The look is very rustic and unique. In lieu of a paper band, the folks at CAO used the vein from a tobacco leaf (see below). When you get the cigar out of the cello there is no CAO logo, but you know what cigar it is. The smell stuck with me as well. Now that can be a good thing or a bad thing. In this case it was good. The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper gave of strong, jammy notes of raisins and dates. Below is a quick interview I did with Rick Rodriguez at IPCPR. He gives all the info on the Amazon Basin.
CAO Amazon Basin
Size: 6 x 52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Nicaragua & Brazil (Amazon)
Samples for review provided by General Cigar
Note: For this review we used the Cigar Federation rating system.
You can view it in detail here.
Overall Cigar Federation Average Review: 86 AKA "A couple"
What a unique smoking experience! The CAO Amazon Basin has some serious "curb appeal." The look is one-of-a-kinda and the smell coming from the wrapper is just as unique. If I saw this in my local B&M, I would buy it on the look alone. But will I want to buy more? Well, you've already seen my score, so let me tell you why I would most definitely buy it again.
Flavor: The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper smelled strongly of raisins, dates, prunes and milk chocolate. The cold draw had a cherry cordial note along and I was expecting to get bowled over with jammy flavor once I fired the Amazon Basin up. That didn't happen. I was hit with dry fruit notes along with some dry cocoa. A mild "smokey" spice was present on the tongue and lips. The aroma was simply fantastic.
As I burned through the Amazon Basin the flavors all ramped up, but maintained their "dry" status while the "smokey" spice built on the retrohale. The flavors stayed pretty consistent through the middle and reached a crescendo as I neared the band. At this point things went a little nutty. See what I did there? A nice nutty note joined and really set things off nicely. The last inch also brought some bitterness that I believe will go away with some age.
Strength: The Amazon Basin is your classic medium strength, full flavored cigar and it was right in my wheelhouse.
Recommendation: I am curious to see what Dustin says about this cigar. I know it's too "strong" for him, but I think he is going to really dig the uniqueness. I suggest you all smoke this one. I'm not suggesting you will all love it, but it's worth definitely worth smoking. I have now smoked three of these and the they seem to be getting better. I believe some age will do wonders for this one.
Tyler's Review - Rating 87 AKA "5 Pack"
I really love the tobacco band on this, very unique. Pre-light draw reveals a spice on the lips and notes of raisins. I would equate it to opening a box of raisins actually.
The first third starts off with a saltiness accompanied by sweet raisin. Dark cocoa and fruity flavors join the mix as the profile remains smooth. The burn becomes a struggle but I am able to touch up every now and then and keep it under control.
Into the second third the raisin and saltiness continue. Nuttiness develops as the saltiness turns slightly bitter. The cigar seems to be burning wet, even though it’s been in my humidor that stays at 65%, and it is still hard to control the burn.
The final third continues the raisin profile but harshness develops. This appears to be a delicate cigar. Smoke too fast and it gets very harsh, too slow and it goes out. Finding the sweet spot is difficult. The spiciness ramps up towards the end as a fig like flavor surfaces. It is definitely full in body. The last of this third turns very bitter so I let it go out.
Overall, this was an interesting cigar. I enjoyed the raisin and fig profile but the delicateness definitely subtracted some points. This cigar rates an 87 out of 100, meaning I would pick up a five pack.
I already had the opportunity to smoke a CAO Amazon Basin at the IPCPR 2014 in Las Vegas. It was an interesting experience and something I wanted to revisit in a more controlled review setting.
The nose on the Amazon Basin is very thick with raisin and sweet tobacco. The first opens with a big blast of pepper that’s almost overpowering. That falls away after a few puffs and a really thick date taste replaces it. There is also some fig mixing in to give this a strong fruit profile. As the first establishes itself each draw has a very woody finish to it. My impression of the first third is that the fruit profile here is the equivalent to my experience with fire cured tobacco.
There is almost an aromatic pipe tobacco flavor going into the second third. It’s a significant profile change from the strong fruitiness previously to a dry aromatic with a heavy leather mouthfeel. The leather does evolve into more of a dry aged fruit, approaching the raisins from the nose. This is a very different cigar from anything else I’ve smoked.
The raisin intensifies as it moves into the last third. In the last third the cry cedar picks up to mix in with the raisins, and there isn’t any more profile evolution.
Total smoking time was just a hair under 2 hours.
The CAO Amazon Basin is an peculiar and intriguing cigar. From the very start when you see the vein wrapped around for the band you know you’re in for something different. I think I would have enjoyed it more if the profile in the first third evolved along the same flavors.
This is something I would hand out to friends as a unique cigar experience. I see this on the opposite side of the flavor map from a cigar blended with fire cured tobacco.
Dustin's Review - Rating 89 AKA "5 Pack"
This wins the award for most interesting new blend I have smoked in a long time. I would have no problem putting this on my COTY list this year, simply for how outside of the box it is.
First third was a dried raisin bomb, nice kick on the retro with an odd spice, and a long finish that was a bit heavy for my tastes.
The second brought out a more rounded sweetness, with hints of figs, and a heavy ethic spice feel on the tongue. Think of the aftertaste of an awesome ethinc meal, that’s what I experienced.
The texture of the draw was chalky in nature, with this of cedar, and you could see the oils bubbling up into the wrapper. The final third picked up strength and was incredible really, with the fruit turning more berry, the leather still there, cedar, and that unique spice that left me wanting more.
Overall, too strong for my tastes, but so damn interesting I want to age a fiver for sure. I would say this is a must try for everyone of all the cigars I have smoked thus far from the show. I do recommend dry boxing, and will store mine very low in the 60rh range, as I think they will need it really, as it burned wet and funky. This is the raisin bomb of all raisin bombs.