Friday, September 28, 2007

Retro-Smoke: CAO Criollo Mancha


By Gary Korb

Here's a cigar I really haven't smoked in a long while. The 5 5/8" x 46 CAO Criollo Mancha. Pronounced, "cree-yo-yo," this is another cigar that I found at the bottom of my humidor while rotating my cigars last month.

One thing you can say about CAO cigars is they have some of the most attractive wrappers, and this blend of diverse Nicaraguan filler & binder tobaccos is nicely complemented by an oily, buttery-textured Criollo '98 leaf grown in Ecuador and capped with a neat little Cuban-style pigtail.

I smoked the Mancha Wednesday night with a friend on his back porch under the full moon with a glass of Offley Porto 20 Year Aged Tawny. The cigar was much fuller in flavor than I had remembered, too. Earthy-woody flavors predominated with spicy chords, not "notes," and traces of dark roasted coffee in the mix. The cigar built in complexity, strength and spiciness during the last third, yet the smoke was never completely overpowering.

Listed as "medium to full-bodied," I think this spicier CAO cigar might be a little much for new smokers, but for the more experienced, I would recommend the Mancha if you're looking for a robust after-dinner smoke.

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