|CAO Last Stick Standing “O”|
In this assessment, we look at a third and final cigar from CAO’s Last Stick Standing collection – the CAO Last Stick Standing (LSS) “O”. The Last Stick Standing Collection is a concept from CAO that gives
consumers a chance to sample three potential blends and then vote on
what which blend they think should be the next CAO cigar. In this series, each of the three blends were very different. As for the CAO Last Stick Standing “O”, this provided a very good blend from a flavor perspective, but had some issues that did hinder the overall cigar smoking experience.
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.
|Tin containing the CAO Last Stick Standing cigars|
While we do not know if the Last Stick Standing “O” 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.
As with both the “C” and “A” blends, there are no specifics provided with the “O” blend:
Currently, each of the three cigars in the Last Stick Standing package
are a 5 1/4 x 54 sized cigar. I’ve personally referred to this size as a “Super
The Last Stick Standing “O” has the darkest wrapper of the three LSS cigars. The wrapper is a coffee bean color with some dark spots. I would categorize the wrapper as oily, but also somewhat bumpy. It even was a little bumpy around the cap. There are some visible wrapper seams and some visible veins. Despite a rustic appearance of the wrapper, I would not categorize it as “toothy”.
The color scheme for the band of the “A’ is black, gray, and
silver. Prominently in the center is an oval-shaped “O” that has a silver outline on a silver background. There is also a thin silver
circle that surrounds surrounds the “O”. Both the “O” and its surrounded circle almost have an embossed look to it. The remainder of the band has a
black background and dark gray design going around it.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Just like I did for each of the finalists in the Last Stick Standing competition, I went with a straight cut through the cap of the “O”. When I commenced with the pre-light draw, I was treated to notes of cocoa and some cedar. Overall the dry draw notes, were very good. It was now time to light my Last Stick Standing “O” and see what this cigar would deliver.
The start to the Last Stick Standing “O” provided notes of pepper, coffee, and chocolate. The notes were pretty close as to which was the dominant flavor, but I gave the chocolate a slight edge. About five percent into the smoke, some cherry sweetness emerged in the background. At the same time, the pepper transitioned to more of what I categorize as a baker’s spice.
Later in the first third, the chocolate and coffee notes morphed to more of what I term a an espresso syrup. The baker’s spice joins the espresso syrup as the primary flavor note. It was also around this point that the cherry sweetness dialed back. So far, the flavor profile was outstanding – the Last Stick Standing “O” was providing some very robust flavors.
In the second half, the baker’s spice soon took sole position as being the primary flavor note. The second half was a spicy one. The spice did get a little harsh at the finish (and I’ll get into some reasons for why I think this happened). The resulting nub was still cool in temperature, but soft to the touch.
Burn and Draw
It was with the construction attributes of burn and draw where the Last Stick Standing “O” faced its greatest challenge. I will put a disclaimer that like each of the finalists of the Last Stick Standing collection, I only smoked a single sample. Cigars are a hand-made product, so a lot can happen and this might not be indicative of what is happening on a consistent basis.
The biggest challenge was with the burn. The “O” pretty much put up a fight from start to finish to keep the burn line straight. There were a couple of cases where the cigar wanted to tunnel – especially in the second half. There were no issues with the burn rate or burn temperature as I found them to be ideal.
The draw was also tight from time to time. While I like a little resistance on the draw, the Last Stick Standing “O” provided a little too much resistance.
With the Last Stick Standing “O”, I’ll infer that these burn and draw issues took its toll on the cigar smoking experience, and eventually led to the harsher finish I got on this cigar.
Strength and Body
From both a strength and body perspective, the Last Stick Standing “O” provided the boldest smoke. This could end up making this cigar a niche cigar for cigar enthusiasts who prefer a fuller profile. From a nicotine standpoint, while I wouldn’t categorize this cigar as overly strong, it still had enough pop to be considered a full strength cigar in my book. As for the body, I mentioned the notes were robust. There was easily enough depth for the “O” to be considered full-bodied. There is good balance between both the strength and body as neither attribute overshadows the other.
On the Last Stick Standing web-site, I scored the “O” a 7.6 out of 10
points. At the time of this assessment, the average score for the “O”
was a 7.8, and its my feeling that the burn and draw issues are the reason for why I scored it lower. Certainly the flavor profile is very good on this cigar. In my book, if there weren’t burn and draw issues, this would have been my runaway choice in the Last Stick Standing competition. This is a cigar that certainly deserves another chance to be smoked. I do think this being a full strength, full-bodied cigar will have its appeal to cigar enthusiasts who like that profile.
Later this week, I’m going to post a detailed comparison of each of the CAO Last Stick Standing finalists
and give my thoughts on how the cigars stack up with each other.
Assessment: Nice to Have
Source: This was received as a promotional item from Casa de Montecristo in Countryside, Illinois when I purchased six CAO cigars.