The use of LED lights in a cigar box is one of the wildest presentations I've seen in the industry. CAO Vision lit up the scene in 2007 with a glossy white box with popping blue lights. It was pretty unique to say the least. I've only seen pictures of it as it was released long before I began smoking cigars. I did however get to be blown away by the updated version that dropped more than a decade later. Vision 2020 used inspiration from the previous release and used the blue LED lights in a different way. I remember browsing my favorite local shop and being stopped dead in my tracks when I saw it. The lights drew me in for a closer look to see that the inside of the top had a stitched leather veneer that was adorned with silver branding. The thing looks like it came straight out of the cockpit of a Bugatti! The price was higher than what I was used to at the time and never got to see if the cigar smoked as good as the box looked. Now enter Vision 2022. This latest version changed things up a bit. Two 15-count trays slide into an oversized white box that is lit up with a cooper-ish orange instead of blue. It's certainly a cool setup, but I am partial to the 2020 presentation. On one hand, the lights are totally over the top and scream for attention. Someone could certainly make the case that it's too gaudy. On the other hand, it does bring a rad vibe that is rarely seen.
Ok, so the boxes are cool n' such, but are the cigars any good? The 2022 release is a completely different blend from 2020. Let's fire it up and see if it's worth hunting for the previous Vision releases.
Cigar: CAO Vision 2022
Origin: Estelí, Nicaragua
Factory: STG Estelí
Size: 6 x 52
Wrapper: Honduran Habano from Jamastran Valley
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano from Jalapa
Filler: Nicaraguan Habano from Condega, Jalapa, and Estelí
The large main band has no problem catching your eye. It's a cool design, but I would have liked to see CAO use a higher quality band stock at Vision's price point. The wrapper does look delicious though. A light, oily sheen showcases the thick & chewy wrapper giving the feel of a worn in baseball glove that just had a makeover. Seams were decent, although not flawless. The cap is almost non existent and expected more in that department. The overall profile is on the bumpy and wavy side. It's fine, but again with the price point, I'd like to see more uniformity. The cigar still looks alright, but I feel with a box like that there was a missed opportunity regarding the cigar appearance.
I used a small straight cut here and it began a little open. By the 2nd third it settled in and was better. Then towards the end a giant stem chunk fell out of the head which led to a wide open draw. We all know how wide open draws go....
Since the draw was on the open side, the temperature was high. The burn line was like a wavy crown and need touchups here and there. Halfway in some swelling began, but not enough to rip through the wrapper. The ash itself wasn't that flaky, but it did want to fall into my lap. The tree bit that fell out the head was the session killer.
1/3 - Sometimes you know from first puff that you're going to love the cigar. This was not one of those times for me. Off the start I get dry desert, mineral hay, and busted leather. The retro is a strange mix of tart and light cream. Luckily with those notes the finish was short. Moving inward I pick up earthy spice and some citrus bitters.
2/3 - The citrus leans toward rind-like now and the body ramps up from light+ to medium. The heart of the cigar brings out a note of dry, toasted bread that is desperate for butter. In the back is a flavor of cotton candy that was dropped in sand. Espresso notes help wash out the sand at the end of the 2nd third.
3/3 - Espresso continues along with coffee bean. With so much habano in this cigar, I'm surprised that any spiciness is in the far back. The retro is rich now with amaretto sand that leaves a finish on the lips. I had a hard time deciding if I like it. Bitter orange rinds become dominating and off putting. With over 2" remaining, a chunk fell out the head and left a gaping hole. Super bitter and not it's super hot. Throwing in the towel.
Yikes! Ok, so now it's for sure; CAO put all of its attention into the box and very little into the cigar. I was not impressed and in fact, disappointed. For a cigar pushing $20 (and probably higher in some shops) the bar is much higher. This cigar doesn't cut the mustard in my book. My recommendation is to cross your fingers and hope you're gifted one. Otherwise, buyer beware.
**Number of cigars smoked for the review: 1