CAO is a brand that is very much known for innovation. In 2015, CAO Cigars would release a cigar known as the CAO Pilón. With the CAO Pilon, CAO reached for the past – 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. Earlier this year, CAO decided to go a step further. This time another blend would be developed utilizing tobaccos from circular-shaped pilons, but this time the cigars rolled would undergo two additional years of age when rolled. The result would be a limited-release offering known as the CAO Pilón Añejo. Today, we take a closer look at that cigar in the Robusto format.
When the original CAO Pilón was released, the CAO team gave some more background on the rounded pilons. It was 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.
Without further ado, let’s turn our attention to the CAO Pilón Añejo and see what that cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The CAO Pilón Añejo is highlighted by a four-country multi-national blend featuring an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper over a Honduran Habano binder and fillers from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Production comes from Scandinavian Tobacco Group’s HATSA factory in Honduras. The original CAO Pilón cigar is still produced in Nicaragua.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Honduran Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
Country of Origin: Honduras
Factory: Honduran American Tobacco S.A. (HATSA)
The CAO Pilón Añejo comes in three sizes – each presented in 20-count boxes. The total production of the CAO Pilón Añejo was limited to 5,000 boxes.
Robusto: 5 1/2 x 54
Toro: 6 x 52
Gigante: 5 7/8 x 60
The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper of the CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto had a medium to dark wood color to it with a slight rosado tint. The surface of the wrapper had some oil on it. The wrapper had somewhat of a bumpy surface to it. There were some visible veins and some visible wrapper seams.
A straight cut was used to remove the cap of the CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto. Once the cap was removed, it was time to commence the pre-light draw ritual. The cold draw delivered notes of natural tobacco, earth, and nut. Overall this was a satisfactory pre-light draw experience. At this point, it was time to toast up the footer of the CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto and move on to the smoking phase.
The CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto continued with the notes of natural tobacco, earth, and nut that were found on the pre-light. There were also some black pepper notes that were present on both the tongue and the retro-hale. Early on, the natural tobacco and earth notes became the primary notes. Both the natural tobacco and earth notes alternated in intensity as to which note had the edge. Meanwhile, the nut settled in the background with the pepper more distant on the tongue than the retro-hale.
During the second third of the CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto, the natural tobacco and earth notes continued to alternate in intensity. By the midway point, it seemed like the earth notes had the edge. At the same time, the pepper notes remained more prominent on the retro-hale, but as the cigar progressed through this portion of the smoking experience, more pepper could be picked up at the back of the throat. Meanwhile, the nut notes were still present in the background.
By the final third, the natural tobacco and earth were back on equal footing as far as which was the dominant flavor note in the forefront. The pepper was now more present on the tongue, but still was a secondary note. Meanwhile, the nut flavors were more distant. This is the way the CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
For the most part, the CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto was low maintenance when it came to the burn. The cigar maintained a relatively straight burn path and had a slight burn line. Some touch-ups were used along the way, but these were not excessive. The resulting ash was a very light shade of gray. There was a firm ash that came off the cigar in clean chunks. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both were ideal.
The draw also performed quite well. It had a touch of resistance on it – which is something I consider a positive. Meanwhile, this was also a very low-maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
For the most part, CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto delivered a medium-strength, medium-bodied smoking experience from start to finish. There wasn’t much in the way of variance in the intensity levels during the smoking experience. When it came to burn vs draw, both attributes balanced each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
Banding and Packaging Notes
The packaging on the original CAO Pilón was something that I really liked. The wine label-styled bands and segmented boxes looked really cool. While there is nothing wrong with the bands and boxes of the CAO Pilón Añejo, it lacks the charm of the original release.
The CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto wasn’t the most complex of cigars, but when it came to flavor, it’s a cigar that hit on all cylinders. In the end, when I’m giving an overall evaluation of a cigar, I’d take a more flavorful cigar that is not complex or a complex cigar that delivers mundane flavors. It’s also worth noting that this was a cigar that had excellent construction. Finally, the price is right – coming in at just $9.00
Overall, this is a cigar I would not hesitate to recommend to either a novice or an experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar that I would smoke again and buy multiples to keep in my humidor. Coming in at a high placing score of 90 points, this cigar earns a Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence Designation.
Key Flavors: Earth, Natural Tobacco, Nut, Peppers
Complexity: Low to Medium
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy Multiples
Cigar Coop Standard of Excellence
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop