CAO has long been known to push the boundaries, introducing unorthodox packaging, marketing strategies, and highlighting exotic tobaccos that are often unfamiliar to the average enthusiast. This is most evident in the brand’s well-known World Series, where tobaccos of Colombian, Italian, and Brazilian origins (among others) are highlighted within each blend. And while tobaccos such as Brazilian Mata Fina or Arapiraca have been incorporated in cigar blends for decades, CAO was considered an outlier when they fully embraced a Brazilian theme in 2001—releasing CAO Brazilia and going so far as to incorporate the Brazilian flag in a loud and flashy display for the cigar’s box.

This theme was taken to a much more extreme degree in 2014, when the brand debuted the Amazon Basin. The cigars were the result of a unique tobacco find made by Ernest Gocaj—director of tobacco procurement at General Cigar—a man that has been dubbed “the Indiana Jones of the cigar world.” Ernest discovered a region within the Amazon rainforest of Brazil, where indigenous tobaccos were planted, harvested, and processed unlike the traditional conventions—

Deep in the heart of the amazon jungle, there’s a primitive tobacco laid undiscovered by the outside world. Grown among the lush vegetation without any tilling, fertilizing, or clear cutting, as villagers have done for centuries. And every three years, villagers trek deeper into the jungle to replant this primitive tobacco in untouched, virgin soil.

When this tobacco is ready for harvest, it’s hand-carried through the jungle to drying huts, laid out in long stacks, and rolled into thick, rope-bound carottes to age.

After fermenting for six months, the long carottes are paddled upriver by canoe and transported to Nicaragua where they’re carefully unwound and prepared for rolling.

SEE ALSO: CAO showcases the unique fermentation processes of their Amazonian tobaccos

This tobacco is known as Bragança, which became the core ingredient that the Amazon Basin cigars were blended around. With an unusual and exotic profile—aided by an equally exotic appearance that showcases a twisted braid of tobaccos for the cigar’s band—Amazon Basin became a cult hit; the initial offering of 2,000 boxes quickly selling out and making their way to the black market. Amazon Basin was then re-released in 2016, offering the same toro size as the original release in limited quantities.

One year later, CAO announced a follow-up blend dubbed “Fuma Em Corda,” and it was revealed that the Amazon concept would become a series known as the Amazon Trilogy.

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Fuma Em Corda Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Honduran Colorado Oscuro
  • Binder: Cameroon
  • Filler: Nicaraguan | Honduran | Brazilian Bragança | Brazilian Arapiraca (Fuma Em Corda)
  • Factory: Honduran American Tabaco S.A. (Honduras)
  • Production: Limited Edition (3,000 boxes of 20 cigars)
  • Vitola: 5″ × 50 Robusto
  • Price: $8.99 (MSRP)

For Fuma Em Corda, Ernest Gocaj headed back to the Amazon, visiting the Alagoas region of Brazil. Here, another native tobacco processing method was discovered. Located in a local tobacco warehouse, snake-like coils of tobaccos were found curing. This is a practice the locals call “fuma em corda,” which translates to “smoke on a rope.” Like the carottes-fermented Bragança tobaccos of Amazon Basin, the fuma em corda-fermented Arapiraca tobaccos were shipped to General Cigar’s facilities, where CAO’s Master Blender Rick Rodriguez incorporated the unique tobacco into a new blend.

Fuma Em Corda utilizes both Brazilian Bragança (seen on the original Amazon Basin) and Brazilian Arapiraca (fuma em corda fermented) tobaccos at the cigar’s core; and has been blended with tobaccos of three other countries to introduce an entirely new smoking experience for the Amazon series. Unlike the original Amazon cigar, Fuma Em Corda is introduced in two sizes: Robusto (5″ x 50) and Toro (6″ x 58), with the Robusto being a brick & mortar exclusive and the Toro aimed at online and catalogue sales.

Appearance

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The cigars feature a similar packaging design as the original Amazon Basin, using the same “braided tobacco” band style as well; although the bands are twisted into a new shape to easily distinguish the two cigars (which have now been joined by a third blend in the series: Amazon Anaconda). Because Amazon Basin was released on two occasions, combined with the very similar look of the two cigars, the Fuma Em Corda is often confused as simply being a new size of Amazon Basin, when in fact it is a completely new blend.



Fuma Em Corda is a sight to behold. The cigars easily stand out in a humidor from their unique band style, and their Colorado Oscuro wrapper displays a rich, reddish, clay-like hue that is also very eye-catching. There are mottled streaks of darker shades running down the cigar’s oily wrapper, which covers a bumpy construction (and maybe a soft spot or two) beneath. Looking at the foot, the tobaccos are much darker, having the look of a heavy dosage of ligero. It’s a nice overall display that feels very appropriate for the cigar’s theme.

On the nose, the wrapper shows mineral and leather notes, with a much more pungent scent of damp basement, molasses, a touch of pepper, and yes, rain forest aroma on the foot. The pre-light draw is on the firm side, showing notes of cedar wood, mineral, and black pepper.

Smoking Experience

The cigar fires up with a dark and earthy profile. There is not much spice, but an airy, perfume-like aroma is quickly noticeable. Moving further into the first inch and a half, Fuma Em Corda develops a touch of black pepper (more so on the palate than a spice in the nostrils), salted, burnt caramel, and espresso characteristics.

The profile is medium on all fronts (flavor, strength, body), offering a medium amount of smoke on each puff and a satisfactory construction—with semi-flakey chunks of ash lasting around two inches. The profile begins to lean more towards the black pepper flavor, with a heavy earth as the backbone and cheek-puckering mineral notes lingering on the finish.

CAO Fuma Em Corda Robusto cigar smoking

At the halfway mark, the flavor profile is similar, but the overall experience has amped up to medium-full flavor, medium-plus strength, and medium -plus body. The flavor notes shift a bit around this point, with the cigar showing anise and its usual accompaniment of dark chocolate—materializing in the form of a dark chocolate and chili candy bar.

Burning through the cigar’s band, the flavors are similar but a bit more gritty and full. There is a sharp spice, molasses, dark toast, and black pepper notes through this section.

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Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

Yes I would. The concept is fun, the price is right, the flavors are consistent—I’m sold. Of course, this may not be the easiest task, as Fuma Em Corda is fairly limited, due to the unique and low-yield methods used for the Amazonian tobaccos in the cigar’s filler. At the time of this writing, these cigars are still readily available and would therefore make for a great “dinner smoke,” with a salty steak being an ideal pairing.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes (with “band burning”) | 1 hour, 35 minutes (without “band burning”)
  • Pairing Recommendation: pinot noir, espresso, ulysses left on ithaca cocktail 
  • Purchase Recommendation: 10 cigars

CAO Fuma Em Corda Robusto cigar nubbed

Images without Cigar Dojo watermark were provided by General Cigar Co.

CAO Fuma Em Corda
CAO may not have the same boutique feel that the brand had once cultivated, but the Amazon series certainly does a convincing job to assure the enthusiast that the brand hasn't stopped innovating. The cigars seem to have just the right ingredients of an exotic background, limited/collectible availability (without being too limited), and attractive price point to have "Joe 6-pack" and aspiring collectors alike raving. With the blend change from Amazon Basin to Fuma Em Corda, the cigars show a new profile that may have lost a bit of the desired natural sweetness, but there is still lots of gritty flavors to be found. At its best, Fuma Em Corda showed earthy notes of chili-infused dark chocolate bars, espresso, and salted and burnt caramel. But the flavors did lack an overall deeper complexity/evolution in the grand scheme, showcasing a charcoal/earth/mineral profile for a majority of the experience. Overall, there's little to complain about with the fun concept and fair price point of Fuma Em Corda.
Appearance98%
Burn/Construction93%
Draw86%
Flavor92%
Complexity79%
Price/Value92%
Pros
  • Aromatic
  • Consistent flavor output
  • Fun twist of amped up flavors through band
Cons
  • Not complex
  • Dark, dry profile could use a touch of sweetness for balance
90%Welcome to the Jungle