CAO Black VR Totem

The CAO Black VR is a cigar I’ve had my eyes on for a while. The plan was that if I stumbled on them in a local B&M, I would make a point to try one. But as you may already know, you’re not likely to find these anywhere but a few online retailers. It wasn’t until Walt and I were guests on a recent episode of Dogwatch Cigar Radio that my interest was peaked enough to search them out. The Black VR was that show’s cigar, and the big question was, would Bob like it? Dale enjoyed it, and thought Bob would, in spite of his general dislike for CAO cigars. Well did he? To find out, you’ll have to listen to show #153. But if you stick around here for a bit, I’ll let you know if I liked it.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 x 50
Wrapper: Brazil
Binder: Brazil
Filler: Mexico, Dominican Republic
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: ~$6.00

The Pre-Smoke
The Black VR comes wrapped in two bands. The main band is essentially the same as the band on the Gold, only with black in place of the tan. The second band is a bit of a curiosity to me. It’s a black band with an abstract pattern of white lines crisscrossing it. But it isn’t the pattern that’s the curiosity, it’s why the band is even there. What I mean is that I nearly lit the cigar with this foot band on, because it kind of blends in. Why put a black band on a nearly black cigar? (Note: My first experience with these wasn’t as well lit as the picture above. It does stand out a bit more in better lighting.)

What I really liked was the look of the wrapper. It kind of reminded me of those “distressed” jeans that were so popular a short while back. You know, the ones that looked like you drug your butt across the shop floor of a Jiffy Lube after an oil change and forgot to wash it for a week. The wrapper leaf had a dark, mottled, oily look to it that just brings to mind oil, earth and shop floors. That doesn’t sound complimentary, but it really looks great.

Further inspection of the leaf revealed a small hole in the wrapper near the head of the cigar. The hole’s perfect roundness sent a shiver of terror up my spine. Beetles! Fortunately, my fears were unfounded, it was merely a small defect in the wrapper. Otherwise, the cigars were without flaws. Nicely firm, fairly smooth, a few prominent veins, in all, pretty much what you might expect from a good maduro wrapper.

So having more than thoroughly inspected the cigar I reached for my cutter to take a cold taste. But this time, I didn’t reach for my notoriously dull, but flamboyantly-red Xikar. I reached for my brand new swanky Xikar scissors. How did they cut? Like a dream. (Check out the image to the right.) When I was done, I was ready to putt on the clipped head. Anyway, I found the cold taste to be all dark chocolate and molasses.

The Burn
The burn on this cigar was generally very good. Of the three or four of these I smoked, only one burned a bit off. But not enough to even touch up. The ash the cigar produces is solid and white and usually hung on for about an inch before dropping. The draw was also predictably good. In fact, it has the exact same draw as every other CAO cigar I’ve ever smoked. You gotta hand it to them for consistency.

My only complaint about this cigar is that it goes out on cue right around the beginning of the final third. And once it goes out, the cigar seems to lose interest in the whole burning thing. It will continue to smoke, but you can’t let it rest too long between puffs.

The Flavor
The cigar starts off with an earthy cocoa flavor that quickly develops a bit of smooth creaminess. As the first third progresses I got interesting flavors including berry, coffee and tea. That’s right, both coffee and tea. Almost as soon as the second third starts, the flavor abruptly shifts back to earthiness that’s slightly fuller with a bit of a brown sugar finish. Cocoa and that berry flavor returns just before the final third begins.

As the cigar burns through its final inches, the earthiness continues and in joined by a pleasant cinnamon flavor and dark chocolate. Surprisingly, just as I was taking the final puffs off one cigar, I tasted sweet cocoa again.

The Price
Checking around online, it looks like you can buy these in the $5.50 to $6.40 range depending on how many sticks you want to buy. Obviously, I favor the lower of the two prices. However, since this cigar is a cigar you’ll probably have to buy online, make sure to check the auction websites, you may find a deal!

The Verdict
The flavors I got out of this cigar actually surprised me, I had expected a profile more in keeping with the CAO Gold, but what I tasted seemed to be a bit more, well, the word lively comes to mind. It was definitely a enjoyable smoke, and I was pleased with the burn. The body was a bit lighter that I’d prefer, especially at the beginning, but it’s a good cigar to pair with your morning coffee. And definitely one that smokers of milder cigars should consider trying out.

I have also smoked the CAO black natural recently and find the VR to be a little bit better than it’s paler brother. (If you’re interested in reading more about the other CAO Black, check out Walt’s review of it here.)

Liked It: Yeah, it was pretty good
Buy It Again: Probably
Recommend It: Yes as a morning smoke, or to mild cigar smokers

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.