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CAO Amazon Basin

amazon basin

Size reviewed: Toro – 6" x 52 ring gauge

Some years ago, I read a book entitled The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard (2006). Millard described Theodore Roosevelt and his son Kermit going on a dangerous yet adventure-filled expedition to the Amazon River in 1913-14. In doing so, Theodore and Kermit survived terrible extremes and discovered a new river, which to this day is named for the famous former U.S. President.

My experience with the CAO Brazilia line has also, at times, been 'dangerous' – but always an adventure. This particular cigar (the Amazon Basin Toro) is no exception, and it reminds me of that line because of the Brazilian tobacco used.

CAO Amazon Basin JVBy my own reckoning, I consider the Amazon Basin an offshoot of the popular, full-bodied cigars in the CAO Brazilia line. This cigar incorporates a unique blend of tobaccos from (according to the advertised information) five different countries. The filler includes a 'wild', rare, organically-grown tobacco called Braganca, which is cultivated in a remote region of the Amazon rainforest and harvested only once every three years. The filler also contains tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Colombia, while the binder is Nicaraguan. All of this is wrapped in an Ecuadorian Sumatran leaf sporting a unique, rustic, twisted tobacco band rather than a traditional, removable, printed-embossed paper band.

The cigar is touted as being medium to full-bodied. To the best of my knowledge, the Toro is the only size available, and that is what I am reviewing here. I have read no other reviews of this cigar, and these are my subjective thoughts and impressions only. I welcome yours.

Visual and pre-light impressions

The cigar seemed exceptionally smooth, nicely finished and well-constructed. Its wrapper was a consistent dark brown (not Maduro) and a bit toothy. The feel of the cigar was solid, and the wrapper and cap were perfect. All things considered, the appearance was very handsome.

I always like to inhale the aroma of a cigar before lighting it, because the scent of the tobacco can evoke a hint of what is to come. In this case, the predominant pre-light fragrance displayed an earthiness along with some nuanced, floral notes. (Tobacco fragrance also takes me fondly back to the days when, as a young man, I'd go with my grandfather to the tobacco auctions in Winston-Salem. Of course, those were different times, and the tobaccos were also different – I know! Still, it's amazing how our sense of smell can evoke such strong memories.)

Cut and light

I clipped the head of the cigar with a dual-guillotine Xikar cutter. I typically use either dual-flame or triple-flame butane lighters containing Xikar fuel. In this case, I used the triple-flame butane lighter. After toasting the foot of the cigar, I proceeded to take the customary draws while rotating it. The Toro lit fairly easily, although the burn was just a little uneven (and it remained consistently so). Bold aromas of earth and something along the lines of a floral scent were immediately palpable at this point.

The smoke experience

The ash remained relatively solid, was not flaky, and ranged from light grey to white in hue. The white smoke seemed almost oily in the way it hung in the air. (I sampled the cigar in an indoor environment – 70 degrees and dry humidity level.) I had the impression that the ash did want to hang on. However, I like to smoke my cigars at a little higher temperature. So I usually break the ash at around ½" to 1" while taking my time smoking.

Up to the sweet spot, the predominant taste was earth with a little wood. There was also a very high-toned floral note, like a distant trumpet above the rest of the orchestration of flavors. As I reached the sweet spot, the floral note became more savory and spicy, which was a wonderful surprise.

That savory spiciness progressed into a definitive pepper note towards the end of the smoke. As the burn reached the twisted tobacco band, I did not want to put the cigar down, but did. All told, the cigar provided a wonderful combination of dense, earthy flavours with some fantastic, and surprising, high notes. The body was definitely a solid medium to full to me.

Overall

I cannot hold back my bias as regards this cigar – I loved it. The cigar was beautifully crafted in appearance, and was like an adventure for my palate and other senses – a study in bringing together earthy, floral, savory, spicy, and peppery characteristics both complementary and distinct. I enjoyed the comfort of the consistently earthy flavour theme of this cigar as well as the vibrant, nuanced and evolving high notes.

Nevertheless, I'm not entirely certain that a fan of the CAO Brazilia line will enjoy this cigar as thoroughly as I did. As an advisory, although the Amazon Basin does use Brazilian tobacco, it is not as full as the Frontmarks of the CAO Brazilia line that I have enjoyed (Gol!, Lambada, & Amazon).

Without a doubt, to me, this cigar is a new personal favorite. I certainly hope you enjoy experiencing the CAO Amazon Basin Toro as much as I have.
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Jerry Vogler (jbvogler) is a cigar aficionado who resides in Kennesaw, Georgia