Agile Cigar Reviews are cigar assessments where we use a lightweight, shorter format. These will never take the place of our comprehensive reviews. They are only used on blends we have previously assessed. This might be a blend we are re-scoring or giving a score for the first time. It might be a blend we are looking at in a different size. Today we look at the CAO Zócalo. This is a cigar and size we have previously assessed back in June 2018.
Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés Morron
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Factory: STG Estelí
Gordo: 6 x 60
Since General Cigar incorporated CAO into its portfolio back in 2010, CAO has become well-known for many limited edition releases. Last year, CAO added to its storied history with the release of the CAO Zócalo. It would be the first Mexican wrapped cigar to be released under the CAO brand. CAO Zócalo is a limited edition cigar as a part of CAO’s World Collection, a group of cigars that showcase tobaccos from different regions of the world. Zócalo is a term used to define a public square located in the center of a city. These are common in many Latin American cities, especially Mexico. In Mexico City, the city’s large Plaza de la Constitución is sometimes referred to as the Zócalo. In the case of the CAO Zócalo, the name is appropriate for this Mexican wrapped cigar. Today we explore the CAO Zócalo in more detail.
While the Mexican wrapper on this CAO is the most distinguishing characteristic, the CAO Zócalo is actually a three-country multi-national blend. The wrapper is described by General as a special Morron wrapper grown in the San Andres valley in Mexico. The blend also utilizes a Cameroon binder and a filler of Nicaraguan tobaccos. The cigar itself is produced in Nicaragua at General’s STG Estelí factory in Estelí.
CAO Zocaló was originally released in one size – a 6 x 60 Gordo. It was presented in 20-count boxes with a total of 3,500 boxes produced for the 2018 release.
The CAO Zócalo started out with a mix of chocolate, red and white pepper, and earth. The chocolate notes moved to the forefront, and some blackberry notes joined the mix. The blackberry notes were present the last time I assessed the CAO Zócalo, but not quite as noticeable this time. As the cigar experience progressed into the second third, the earth and pepper notes became more prominent. Past the midway point, the earth notes displaced the chocolate as the primary notes. The chocolate joined the blackberry and chocolate notes. Toward the last third there was more in the way of spice.
One thing that intrigued me the last time I smoked the CAO Zócalo is how this cigar increased in strength. This cigar literally followed a linear progression from mild to medium in the first third, medium in the second third, and medium to full in the final third. In fact, this progression was identical to my previous experience last year. At the same time the flavors started out medium bodied, and toward the end of the second third progressed to medium to full. When looking at strength versus body, the body had the edge in the first half, but as the cigar increased in strength, the strength took the edge toward the by the final third.
The big difference with my experience with the CAO Zócalo now versus June of 2018 is that I got a little less in the way of the blackberry notes. While this was a unique flavor, I found that when it was dialed back it made for a better-balanced cigar. Like last year, I enjoyed how this cigar built up in strength along the way.
The numeric score remains the same as last year, but we have also adopted stricter scoring for 2019, so in a way, this experience is ahead of the curve from previous years. The CAO Zócalo is a cigar I would recommend to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast, but I wouldn’t discourage a novice from trying it. As for myself, it’s a cigar I would smoke again – and it’s one definitely I’d still give box worthy consideration to.
Key Flavors: Earth, Pepper, Chocolate, Blackberry
Complexity: Medium Plus
Strength: Mild to Medium (1st Third), Medium (2nd Third), Medium to Full (Final Third)
Body: Medium (1st 2/3), Medium to Full (Final Third)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Box Worthy Consideration
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted.