CAO Colombia Vallenato

At the 2014 IPCPR Trade Show, the CAO Cigars brand under General Cigar Company unveiled the new regular production CAO Colombia.  The CAO Colombia becomes the latest cigar to be a part of CAO’s World line – which pays homage to different regions of the world.  It becomes the fourth regular production cigar to pay homage to a country – with the other three being the CAO Brazilia, CAO Italia, and the CAO America.  Each of those cigars incorporate tobacco from that particular country – and the CAO Colombia is no exception as it features Colombian tobacco in the filler.  Today we take a look at the CAO Colombia in the Vallenatos format – which is a Gran Robusto.  Since Rick Rodriguez and Ed McKenna have come on board with the CAO brand in 2011, I have found the brand to be in good hands.  The CAO Colombia is another excellent offering by the duo.

While there are now four cigars in the World line paying homage to countries, there have been several others which have been shop exclusive releases.  These have been released under the “CAO Escarparte”.  These include the CAO Escaparte Ecuador and CAO Escaparte Costa Rica (both of which went to Corona Cigar Company) as well as the CAO Escaparte Colombia (which went to Serious Cigars in Houston).  The new CAO Colombia is not a case where the CAO Escaparte Colombia was taken national.  The CAO Escaparte Colombia is a Colombian puro while this new CAO Colombia is a totally new multi-national blend.

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the CAO Colombia and see what this cigar delivers.

Blend Profile

The new CAO Colombia features tobaccos from four different countries. As mentioned above, the filler incorporates tobaccos from Colombia.  The cigar uses a varietal of Cuban seed tobacco grown in Colombia called Ice Mazinga.   This tobacco is grown in an isolated mountainous region of Colombia near the Carribbean coast and for the past 15 years a family of farmers has attended to it.

It is worth noting that the CAO Escaparte Colombia that went to Serious Cigars in Houston was a Colombian puro.

Wrapper: Jamastran
Binder: Cameroon
Filler: Colombia, Brazilian Mata Fina
Country of Origin: Nicaragua

Vitolas Available

The four names all have a connection to Colombia culture:  Tinto (refers to a coffee), Magdalenda (a department in Colombia), Bogota (the Capital city), and Vallenato (a Colombia Folk Dance). The sizes are different from the CAO Escaparte Colombia cigar.  The cigars are packaged in 20 count boxes.

Tinto: 5 x 50
Vallenato: 5 x 56
Magdalenda: 6 1/2 x 54
Bogota: 6 x 60

Open box of CAO Colombia Vallenato


The Jamastran wrapper of the CAO Colombia Vallenato has a caramel color that I would say is a shade darker than most Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrappers.  There is some oil on the surface of this wrapper, but I would not say this was an overly oily wrapper.  There are some visible wrapper veins and some visible wrapper seams.

The band is a variation of the one found on the CAO World line cigars paying homage to a country (i.e. Brazilia, Italia, and America).  The CAO Colombia band contains the red, yellow, and blue colors that make up the Colombian flag,  The classic styled CAO logo is in metallic gold font on a blue, red, and white diamond.  The diamond sits on a yellow background and is surrounded by red sunburst rays.  There are two additional sunbursts to the left and right.  The lower part of the band is blue with gold striping overlaying it.  The text “COLOMBIA” in metallic gold font sits on the blue background.  The upper and lower trim of the band have metallic gold font.

It is worth noting this is the same band used on the CAO Escaparte Colombia, but the difference is the Escaparte has a secondary band.

Preparation for the Cigar Experience

Prior to lighting up the CAO Colombia Vallenato, I went with a straight cut to remove the cap.  After cleanly removing the cap, I moved on to the pre-light experience.  The cold draw provided notes of wood, natural tobacco, some sugar cane sweetness, and a slight tingly spice that lingered on the tongue.  Overall I considered the pre-light draw to be satisfactory on the CAO Colombia.  At this point I was ready to light up this cigar and await what the smoking phase would have in store.

Flavor Profile

The start to the CAO Colombia delivered some notes of white pepper, wood, and natural tobacco.  On one of the samples, the white pepper kicked off the smoking experience of the CAO Colombia was more of a pepper blast.  I also detected the white pepper on the retro-hale and this varied in intensity throughout the smoking experience.  Meanwhile there was a lemon note that was very much present in the background.

As the CAO Colombia burned through the first half, the lemon notes joined the natural tobacco as a primary flavor.  There was quite a bit of sweetness in these early stages.  The white pepper moved into the background and were joined by grain and herbal notes.  Meanwhile the woody notes from early on had dissipated.  As for the retro-hale, it took on more of an herbal spice quality.

In the second half, the grain and herbal notes moved into the forefront.  Each of these two notes alternated in intensity.  The sweetness was now dialed back as the lemon and natural tobacco were now secondary.  The white pepper was still present, but a little more distant.

The last third of the CAO Colombia was very similar except the pepper at times was present in the forefront.  The pepper also at times had a sharpness to it.  This is the way the flavor profile was as it came to a close.  The resulting nub was cool in temperature and firm to the touch.

Burn and Draw

The burn to the CAO Colombia Vallenato perfumed well. The burn line had a slight curvature to it, but for the most part the burn line remained on a straight path throughout the smoking experience. This was the type of burn that could blister easily so some tlc is needed when touching up. The resulting ash was a silvery gray with some darker streaks. Overall this was an ash that remained quite firm throughout the smoking experience.

Burn of the CAO Colombia Vallenato

The draw was outstanding.  It was not too loose and it was not too tight.  This was a very easy cigar to derive the flavors from while puffing.

Strength and Body

Colombian tobacco has a reputation for being on the milder side, and I was expecting the a milder strength smoke. Surprisingly, I found the CAO Colombia to have just enough strength to qualify as a medium strength smoke. Meanwhile there was also more body than I expected. I found the CAO Colombia to be a medium-bodied smoke for the first two thirds. In the last third, I found the flavors weighed a little more heavy on the pallet and actually moved into the medium to full range. In terms of strength versus body, I found the body to have the edge throughout the smoking experience.

Final Thoughts

Overall I found the CAO Colombia to deliver a very nice smoking experience.  I found this to be a cigar that exhibited no signs of youngness and was ready to smoke right away.  This is not a “cookie cutter” smoke flavor wise as this cigar delivers some unique flavors – namely the lemon, herbal, and grain notes.  These flavors worked nicely together.  The Vallenato is the only size of this line I have smoked, so I am very curious how the other vitolas will smoke.  This is a cigar that I would recommend to either a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast.  As for myself, this is was a very nice smoke. It is one worthy of a fiver.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium
Body: Medium (1st 2/3), Medium to Full (Last Third)
Finish: Good
Assessment: 3.0 – The Fiver
Score: 89


News: CAO Colombia
Price: $6.75
Source: Cigars Provided by Manufacturer
Stogie Geeks Podcast: Episode 123
Stogie Feed: CAO Colombia VallenatoCAO Colombia (IPCPR 2014)