Tonight’s Tasting — CAO Criollo and Trader Joe’s Hefeweizen

CAO Criollo Pato

CAO is one of the most well known names in cigars. It seems anywhere there is a celebrity smoking a cigar, there is CAO. It is the fastest growing, trendiest, and most popular brand on the market, appealing to a new generation of aficionados and seasoned veterans of the hobby alike. Top ratings and awards have brought this boutique brand to the top of its game.

I was in the mood for a smaller, lighter cigar tonight, and I found a CAO Criollo hiding in one of my humidor’s drawers. I’ve never tried one before, but it looked light and was Pato – a 4 7/8″ x 50. The word “Criollo” literally means native seed. The Criollo ‘98 was an experimental hybrid seed grown in Cuba when they were searching for a solid tobacco strand to fight mold and other agricultural difficulties. It was later picked up by CAO and debuted as the CAO Criollo. Immediately it was dubbed a cigar that could compete with the finest Cuban cigars on the market. Grown and cultivated in Nicaragua and matched with Cuban seed Nicaraguan filler tobaccos, the Criollo has a medium to full-bodied damp and earthy aroma.

The CAO Criollo is a “puro”, meaning that all the tobacco (wrapper, binder, filler) comes from a single country, in this case Nicaragua. These are not expensive cigars, running around $5 each depending on size.

This is a mild cigar, making it a good choice for beginners and a nice break for the developed palate. From first draw I was impressed. The wrapper and even the band have a rustic look that matches the taste of coffee and nuts. Spice became more pronounced as the smoke progressed. Draw and burn were perfect.

Trader Joe’s Bavarian Style Hefeweizen

This unfiltered Hefeweizen poured a cloudy orange color with very little head. It has an interesting citrus and banana nose. The taste was citrus and yeast with a touch of sour. Good finish and aftertaste. Don’t be put off that this is a house brand. It is surprisingly good.

CAO Criollo Pato – 8.2
Trader Joe’s Bavarian Style Hefeweizen – 7.8

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