CAO Right Coast

Earlier this week, we reported on the CAO Right Coast.  This is a limited production, regional release by General Cigar Company aimed at retailers in the Southeastern United States.  The cigar has a trapezoid-shaped viola.  As David Jones of the Tiki Bar Online pointed out to me, this was a similar vitola that once used on the CAO Cameroon Holiday Press.  Recently, I have had an opportunity to sample several of these cigars.  Overall, while the trapezoid shape might take a little getting used to, the cigar does deliver some solid flavors.

The CAO Right Coast follows another cigar that CAO released late last year called the CAO Left Coast.  This was also a 72 ring gauge Trapezoid-shaped vitola. The Left Coast cigar was aimed at markets in the Western United States (thus the name “Left Coast”).  It also featured the trapezoid shaped vitola.  In addition to the CAO regional releases,  General Cigar Company also released  three large ring gauge regional releases late last year under the La Gloria Cubana line, the Sanson, Piramide Supra, and Gorda Gorda.  All of these regional releases were also limited production.

CAO Cameroon Holiday Press – the original
Trapezoid vitola by CAO.  Special thanks to our
good friends at for this photo.

Without further adieu, let’s take a closer look at the CAO Right Coast and see what this cigar brings to the table.

Blend Profile

Update: CAO Senior Brand Manager, Ed McKenna commented on the blend a bit in the comments below. He mentions a Broadleaf wrapper and some Colombian tobacco

For information purposes the CAO Left Coast contained a blend a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, a Honduran binder, and both Honduran and Colombia filler.  We do not know if the CAO Right Coast has any commonality with the Left Coast blend.

Vitolas Available

The CAO Right Coast is only available in a 6 3/4 x 72 trapezoid-shaped vitola.  The cigar is packaged in boxes of 14.  I believe the trapezoid shape represents a boat (thus the name “Right Coast”).  In true innovative General Cigar fashion, the packaging is also equally innovative as the box is boat shaped.

Boat shaped box of the CAO Right Coast


Top view of CAO Right Coast

Update: Senior Brand Manager Ed McKenna commented on the production numbers below.  There were 400 boxes made.


In addition to its unique trapezoid box-press shape, the CAO Right Coast is highlighted by its thick and oscuro-colored wrapper.  The color of the wrapper is almost black, but upon close examination, you can still see some marbling.  The wrapper itself is thick and oily.  The dark color does a good job at hiding the wrapper seams.  There are a few visible veins on the wrapper.


Trapezoid-shaped vitola
Note: There is not as big a color difference here between
wrapper and filer, this was due to camera lighting

The band features a black ship’s wheel with the CAO name on it on a white background.  This is the opposite of the CAO Left Coast which was white on black.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Given the cap was large and had an odd shape, it took several think straight cuts to remove enough of the cap to get a good draw.  I thought about going with a punch or V-cut, but opted to stay with my usual straight cut.  It was then on to the pre-light draw.  The dry draw notes provided a mix of espresso and pepper.  Overall I considered the pre-light draw to be a satisfactory experience.  At this point, it was time to light the CAO Right Coast and see what the smoking experience would bring to the table.

Flavor Profile

The start to the CAO Right Coast had a heavy dose of pepper to start.  Once the pepper settled down, the flavor profile became a combination of pepper, espresso, and leather.  While there was no dominant flavor on the draw, the pepper could definitely be felt through the retro-hale.

Later in the first third of the cigar experience, the leather notes became primary and were joined by nut flavors.  The pepper and earth notes were secondary.  The espresso notes had diminished, but were still playing a tertiary role.  This flavor profile would hold throughout the second third of the cigar experience.

In the last third of the CAO Right Coast, the earth notes joined the leather flavors as primary.  The nut flavors were secondary, and were joined by the espresso and the pepper notes.  This was the way the flavor profile held until the end.  The end of the cigar was not harsh and the resulting nub finished surprisingly well – firm to the touch and cool in temperature.

Burn and Draw

For a very unorthodox shaped, large ring gauge vitola, I was surprised how well the CAO Right Coast performed when it came to burn and draw.  I wouldn’t categorize the scores as perfect, but they were not bad either.  At the same time, there were times I didn’t realize this was a 72 ring gauge cigar.

The start of the CAO Right Coast did require multiple touch-ups to keep the burn going straight. By about the midway point, these touch-ups became less frequent and the burn line remained relatively straight.  The resulting ash was a salt and pepper color.  The early stages of the burn saw the ash have some flaking, but in the second half this settled down as well.

Early stages of the burn of the CAO Right Coast

For such a large cigar, I was amazed that the cigar burned relatively cool – right until the last stages.  The burn rate was ideal and provided about a 2 hour smoke.

The draw was a little tricky to work.  This is because the trapezoid shaped vitola felt a little uncomfortable in the mouth.  It also made the cigar a little difficult to rotate because drew differently at different points.  While there was no tightness or looseness with the draw, it still took a little getting used to.  Overall, I considered the draw to be a little more high maintenance than normal.

Strength and Body

The strength and body of the CAO Right Coast balanced each other very nicely from start to finish with neither attribute overpowering the other.   The Right Coast started out with a little kick as I assessed it to be medium to full strength.  Later in the first third, the strength settled down to medium strength.  The depth of the flavors took a similar path.  The Right Coast started out on the upper end of medium to full-bodied.  By the end of the first third, the cigar mellowed to a medium-bodied smoke.

Final Thoughts

Overall the CAO Right Coast provided a good smoking experience.  I would not say it had a revolutionary flavor profile, but it still had some good flavors.  The shape of this cigar is different, and it  does impact the overall experience.  As I mentioned, the cigar was more high maintenance when it came to both the burn and draw.   I probably would not recommend this to a novice because of the fact the draw is going to take a little to get used to.  Experienced cigar smokers looking for earth, spice, and leather flavors should like this cigar’s profile  As for myself, this was a nice change of pace cigar.  It is something I would still smoke again.


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

Source: The cigars for this assessment were purchased from Outland Cigars in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Also special thanks to Outland Cigars for the photo opportunities of the packaging. They have received
these cigars for sale in their store.

Note: Special thanks to David Jones of Tiki Bar Online for the reference to the CAO Cameroon Holiday Press. Finally, last but not least, special thanks to CAO Senior Brand Manager Ed McKenna on some additional insights to this release.