CAO has quite an impressive selection of blends in their portfolio. I've had the pleasure of enjoying a number of them. Usually I can say I liked the cigar, but there are a few that exceeded expectations and are memorable. The Orellana with its Brazilian Cubra wrapper and Mortal Coil with Dominican Andullo were so uniquely delicious. Then of course there is the Amazon Basin series which uses Brazilian Bragança mixed in the filler. This rare tobacco is grown deep in the Amazon Rainforest and is only harvested once every three years. The latest installment, Extra Añejo, is the same blend as the previous offering in 2020, but is aged for two years after being rolled. Although three years have passed since my last Amazon Basin, I remember it being very tasty. I can't imagine giving it a two year nap would be a bad thing, but let's cut it up and see.
Cigar: CAO Amazon Basin Extra Añejo
Factory: STG Estelí
Size: 6 x 52
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Brazilian Bragança, Colombian, Dominican
This cigar has the grit to match the name. It looks like it came right out of the Amazon Rainforest. One immediately notices that instead of a traditional paper band, these have a tightly braided strand of tobacco wrapped around. The coil is snug, like an anaconda squeeze, and you can even see the cigar bulging out from behind it. The wrapper is thick and rugged while still being fairly smooth to the touch. Small, black spots are scattered along the wrapper giving it a forest-like appearance. Some veins were on the larger side. That in itself isn't always a bad thing to me. My issue is when a vein produces a barb at the seam and my finger inevitably snags, ripping the wrapper a bit. There were two such barbs on this sample. Bottom line though, it's still a rad looking cigar.
The dense frame led me to swing the ax hard for a wide straight cut. Pulls needed some hangtime, but there was still ample smoke output. As things progressed into the last third, I did end up poking & tweezing. The fiddling was a success though and I carried on.
This category was a drag on the overall score here. Things started out acceptable with a rock-solid ash and a burn line that only needed a correction once. The 2nd third began straight and I was hopeful it would maintain. By the end it was flaking out and the last third was an ash explosion. Burn lines on other samples may not be amazing, but I'm guessing the ash pop was a result of a hearty vein on this one.
1/3 - Off the foot is like stepping into the Amazon with damp forest floor as the opener. There are also notes of red pepper and rich natural tobacco. Retro is very smooth with black pepper pita and cloves. Traces of black coffee can be found.
2/3 - A mix bomb of cocoa and chocolate cake (no frosting) have become the star of the 2nd third. Retro is now less black peppery and more like earthy pita. Plenty of bold, yet smooth black soil notes and a finish of dark tobacco that lingers. Red pepper has faded but is still around. I found myself dropping the "oooh yeaaah" line after numerous puffs.
3/3 - No more pita on the retro and it has transitioned to mildly sweet leather. Toasted marshmallows with a hint of anise show up for the final act. The black coffee that was in the back is now espresso. The last third begins with a pleasant balance of sweet, spicy, and bitter. Once I hit the coil band the balance had shifted toward bitter and I figured it was time to throw in the towel.
At the end of the day, I really enjoy this cigar. It has rare components, a unique profile, a Tarzan appearance, and just overall pretty cool. If the draw was better and I didn't have the burn issues this would easily be above a 90. Perhaps other samples will perform better on that front. This flavor bomb is absolutely a cigar you need to try.
**Number of cigars smoked for the review: 1