CAO Last Stick Standing – Blend C

Following the acquisition of CAO Cigars by General Cigar company, many CAO cigar enthusiasts were not sure where the brand was heading.   Shortly after, the acquisition Team La Gloria Cubana’s Rick Rodriguez moved over to the CAO Brand, and Ed McKenna was hired as a Senior Brand Manager.  After meeting them at the 2011 IPCPR trade show, I was convinced that they wanted to preserve the legacy of CAO.  In my opinion part of that legacy is innovation from both a product development and marketing perspective. In 2012, we see an example of this innovation in action as CAO recently announced their “Last Stick Standing” campaign.   The concept involves allowing consumers to play a role in selecting the next CAO brand.   There are three potential Last Standing Stick finalists.   Today, we take a look at the first of the three which has been dubbed the “C” blend from the Last Stick Standing blends.   Overall, I found this a solid cigar that delivered a very good smoking experience.

Tin containing the CAO Last Stick Standing cigars

The three finalist blends in the “Last Stick Standing” collection are packaged in a special tin.  These have been made available to retailers.   There are three blends inside the tin:  Blend “C”,  blend “A”, and blend “O”. Consumers may receive the “Last Stick Standing” tin with the three cigars if they purchase six CAO cigars from a brick and mortar retailer.   Consumers are then able to go on line to a special Last Stick Standing web-site and provide their scores and input on the cigars.

While we do not know if the Last Stick Standing “C” will be the CAO blend or not, we’ve opted to provide a full assessment complete with an assessment rating and score.  The decision to do this is that this has been made since the Last Stick Standing cigar has been made available to the general marketplace as opposed to being a pre-release cigar.  Normally in the cases of “pre-release” we do a “pre-review” and hold off on a final assessment rating and score.

Blend Profile

At this time, CAO has chosen not to provide specifics on the Last Stick Standing “C” blend.   I’m not going to venture any guesses at this time.

Wrapper: Unknown
Binder: Unknown
Filler: Unknown

Vitolas Available

Currently, for the three cigars being made available in the Last Stick Standing package – each is a 5 1/4 x 54 sized cigar.  I usually refer to a size like this as a “Super Robusto”.


The wrapper for the Last Stick Standing “C” is what I would classify as a medium brown, caramel colored wrapper.  The wrapper has an oily complexion to it.   There are also some visible wrapper seams and a few visible wrapper veins.

The band has a black, white, and silver color scheme.  It features a silver “C” on a white circular background.  There is also a thin silver circle that surrounds surrounds the “C”.  The remainder of the band has black, white, and silver design going around it.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

It was business as usual for me here as I prepped my cigar for a smoke.   I went with my usual straight cut and commenced with a pre-light draw.   The dry draw notes were quite pleasant as it provided me a mix of cedar and orange citrus flavors.  Since I was satisfied with the pre-light draw, it was now time to fire up the Last Stick Standing “C” and see what it would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

The Last Stick Standing “C” starts out with a profile of natural tobacco, pepper, and caramel sweetness.  For the most part, this is the profile the “C” takes for the majority of the smoking experience.  Shortly after the initial draws, some chocolate notes entered into the equation. The early profile had the caramel notes move into the forefront.  The natural tobacco, chocolate, and pepper notes were secondary.   The pepper notes could also be detected prominently through the nasal passages.

By the ten percent mark, the natural tobacco joined the caramel notes in the forefront.  Once the smoke reached, the one third point, the natural tobacco took over as the primary note.  Meanwhile the caramel, chocolate, and pepper remained in the background.

As the cigar moved into the second third, the caramel, chocolate, and natural tobacco notes alternated in various combinations as to which was the primary note.  For the most part the pepper remained a background note.  The finish was more sweet than spicy.   As the cigar experience closed, the resulting nub was cool in temperature but soft on the touch.

Burn and Draw

I felt the burn fell a little short of being an excellent burn on the Last Stick Standing “C”.  The “C” did require several touch-ups – and for the most part, it did the trick.  I did have one case where I had a little tunneling in the cigar, but the butane lighter was able to correct this.   The ash produced by the “C” was more salt and pepper in color.

Salt and pepper ash of the CAO Last Stick Standing “C”

From a draw standpoint, there were no issues with the Last Stick Standing “C”.  The draw was effortless from start to finish making the “C” a very enjoyable smoke.

Strength and Body

The Last Stick Standing “C” has a decent amount of nicotine pop to it.   It definitely falls in the medium to full range in terms of strength.  The flavor notes to the “C” also have some nice depth to them.   It also falls squarely in the”medium to full range in terms of body.   This is a cigar with a good case of “just enough” strength and “just enough” body.  The strength and body balance each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.

Final Thoughts

On the Last Stick Standing web-site, I scored the “C” a 7.7 out of 10 points.   At the time of this assessment, the average score for the “C” was a 7.6, so I felt comfortable with the way I scored this for the feedback.  From my standpoint, I think this is a good cigar.  I have not smoked the “A” or the “O” blends yet, so I can’t make a comparison at this time.  I can say this cigar is worthy to be a regular release by CAO.   While its a little stronger and has more body, this can be a cigar to appeal to the novice enthusiast.   I can also see this cigar appealing to experienced cigar enthusiasts.   Hopefully we will hear more from this cigar in the near future.


Burn: Good
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 89

Source: This was received as a promotional item from Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, Illinois when I purchased six CAO cigars.