The CAO Expedición is a cigar that was released by Scandinavian Cigar Group (STG) for the Tobacconists’ Association of America Exclusive Series in 2020. It would mark the third consecutive year that CAO would release a cigar for the TAA. Since its inception, CAO has always been a lifestyle type of brand. The CAO Expedición pays homage to the retro days of aviation. According to STG and CAO’s parent company General Cigar, the name was also inspired by the brand’s continual exploration of some of the world’s greatest tobacco-growing regions. Today we take a closer look at the CAO Expedición.
TAA Exclusive Series consists of cigars made by leading manufacturers that are exclusively sold at TAA member retailers. The TAA is a small group of retailers. At press time the number of retailers is approximately 80. The TAA has defined itself as:
The Tobacconists’ Association of America, Ltd. is a trade organization established in 1968 by visionary retail tobacconists. By providing education, communication, research, advocacy, and member discount programs, The TAA works with our members and the industry they support to offer the tools and relationship building opportunities needed to maximize professionalism and success.
There are 12 cigars released for 2020 as a part of the TAA Exclusive Series:
- AJ Fernandez Belles Artes Maduro Figurado
- Brick House Ciento por Ciento 6 1/4 x 54 (Return from 2019)
- CAO Expedición
- CLE 25th Anniversary 11/18
- Encore 656 by E.P. Carrillo
- Kristoff San Andrés Box-Pressed Toro TAA 2020
- La Aurora TAA Exclusivo
- My Father The Judge TAA Exclusive
- Rocky Patel TAA Exclusivo 2020
- Tatuaje TAA 2020
- Timeless TAA 2020 (Nat Sherman)
- Villiger TAA Exclusive 2020
There were four additional TAA Cigars that were announced but never released in 2020. While it was never explicitly stated, the reasons were most likely related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Crowned Heads release was effectively postponed indefinitely while the La Flor Dominicana and La Palina releases will be a part of the 2021 TAA Exclusive Series.
- Crowned Heads Lost Angel 2020
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 52nd Oro Tecera Edición 6 1/2 x 58 Chisel Natural
- La Flor Dominicana TAA 52nd Oro Tecera Edición 6 1/2 x 58 Chisel Maduro
- La Palina White Label 6 x 50
As mentioned above, CAO Expedición is the third cigar released for The TAA by Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG). STG has a fourth cigar slated for TAA release in 2021 from the Diesel brand. The Diesel will mark the first non-CAO release for the TAA from STG. With the split of the STG portfolio, Diesel Disciple will also be the first TAA release to fall under the Forged Cigar Company side of the house
- 2018: CAO Estelí (TAA Exclusive)
- 2019: CAO Brazilia Select (TAA Exclusive)
- 2020: CAO Expedición (TAA Exclusive)
- 2021: Diesel Disciple 2021 TAA Exclusive
Without further ado, let’s break down the CAO Expedición and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The CAO Expedición is a multi-national blend highlighted by a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper. The blend also utilizes a Connecticut Shade wrapper and is comprised of a filler from three of the major tobacco-producing countries (Nicaragua, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic). Production for the CAO Expedición was done at STG’s HATSA factory in Honduras.
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Connecticut Shade
Filler: Nicaraguan, Honduran, Dominican
Country of Origin: Honduras
Factory: Honduras-American Tobacco S.A. (HATSA)
The CAO Expedición comes in one size – a 6 1/8 x 50 box-pressed Toro. The cigars are presented in ten-count boxes. A total of 1,200 boxes were produced – making it one of the larger allocations for the TAA.
The Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper CAO Expedición had a dark roast coffee bean wrapper. Looking closely, some mottling could be seen on the surface. This was somewhat of an oily wrapper. While there were some visible veins and visible wrapper seams, the surface of the CAO Expedición was on the smoother side. The box-press of the CAO Expedición had a slight soft Cuban box-press style.
The band of the CAO Expedición had an orange, white, light blue, and dark blue color scheme. On the center of the band is a retro-style blue CAO logo. To the left and right of the band, there was an aviator wing design. On the upper right portion of the band is a dark blue and gold globe surrounded by orange trim.
A straight cut was used to commence the cigar experience of the CAO Expedición. Once the cap was removed, it was on to the pre-light draw experience. The dry draw delivered a mix of leather and mocha (a fusion of chocolate and coffee). Overall this was a simple, but satisfying pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to light up the CAO Expedición and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The CAO Expedición opened up with notes of mocha, leather, and dried fruit. Early on the mocha notes took control with the leather and dried fruit settling in the background. The dried fruit occasionally had the intensity of a primary note, but for the most part, remained secondary. Later in the first third, some black pepper notes emerged on the tongue. The pepper, along with some of the dried fruit was present on the retro-hale.
During the second third, the coffee/chocolate fusion of mocha split with the coffee notes becoming primary. The chocolate notes settled into the background with the pepper and fruit notes. By the midway point, the chocolate notes were in the more distant background while the leather notes dissipated.
There was an increase in the pepper notes just past the midway point. Toward the last third, the pepper closed in on the coffee notes in the forefront, but never took control. In the more distant background were the fruit notes with an occasional hint of chocolate still present. As the CAO Expedición came to a close, the resulting nub was soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
The burn of the CAO Expedición performed like a champ. This was a cigar that maintained a straight burn path and had a straight burn line. The resulting ash was a light silver color and was on the firm side. At the same time, this was a cigar that maintained an ideal burn rate and ideal burn temperature.
The draw of the CAO Expedición also performed very well. The draw had a hint of resistance – which is something that I welcome on a box-pressed cigar. This is a cigar that was low maintenance to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
Don’t let the dark wrapper fool you, this is not a cigar that is overpowering in terms of strength and body. This is a cigar that started out mild to medium in strength and medium in body. By the midway point, the strength increased enough to push it into medium territory. As for the body, there was a nominal increase, but it still remained in medium territory.
In terms of strength versus body, the body maintained a slight edge throughout the smoking experience.
The one word that I could use to sum up the experience of the CAO Expedición is simple. This is not going to be an elaborate flavor profile, and it is not a cigar that delivers a high degree of complexity. Still, the cigar delivers in the most important category – flavor. It’s a cigar that puts up a respectable score of an 89, but as I said many times, TAA cigars have been positioned to be the best cigars by the best manufacturers for the best retailers. In the case of the CAO Expedición, an 89 falls short of a cigar in that “best of class.” Still, taking the TAA moniker aside, this is a cigar I would recommend to any cigar enthusiast. As for myself, it’s a cigar I would buy and smoke again.
Key Flavors: Mocha (Coffee, Chocolate), Fruit, Leather, Pepper
Complexity: Medium Minus
Strength: Mild to Medium (1st Half), Medium (Second Half)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop