Review of CAO Pilón Cigar
By: Gary Manelski
CAO Pilon cigars are made in Nicaragua with Nicaraguan filler and binder leaves, and a Cuban seed Ecuadorian wrapper. These cigars are named after an old-world Cuban fermentation technique that was used to process the wrapper leaves naturally.
CAO Pilon cigars were introduced in 2015, and the Robusto size (5 x 52) was named Cigar of the Year by the French Cigar Magazine L’Amateur de Cigare during July 2020. Current SRP is $7.49 per cigar. You can read General Cigar's original 2015 press release here, but prices have changed and two more vitolas have been added since then. To view the most recent 2020 press release, click here.
The sample CAO Pilon Robusto began with a sweet peppery taste. After a few puffs, an earthy flavor joined the mix followed by a woodsy taste that quickly became predominate, as the sweet pepper lingered in the background. The flavor was full and the body medium-to-full. After about 15 minutes, the wood taste was still predominate, but the smoke became more mellow with the flavor throttling down a bit into the medium-to-full range. As the wood taste became less intense, hints of nuts emerged. Beyond the half-way point, the flavor did not change very much, and remained very enjoyable until the end.
It took me about an hour to smoke the CAO Pilon Robusto cigar down to two inches remaining. During that time, the draw was good, the burn was mostly even, and the cigar held a long ash. No relights were required, just a couple of minor touch-ups.
The process of fermenting the wrapper leaves in smaller round pilons requires more time, but resulted in a somewhat unique woodsy tobacco flavor. Yes, the proof is in the puffing. This old-world method may be more labor intensive and require more fermentation time than normal, but the result was worth it. I enjoyed the CAO Pilon more than the CAO Flathead V19, which was fermented in less time than normal (but aged longer to compensate). It's good that CAO is experimenting with different ways of processing cigar tobaccos to create distinct flavors. In the case of CAO Pilon, the end result is a superior cigar worthy of a rating of 4.25 points on a 5-point scale. And at a price of $7.49 for a Robusto, CAO Pilon is an excellent value, too!
Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer.