“Politeness is the poison of collaboration.”

— Edwin Land

It’s blunt, but I’ve always loved this quote. Any great project, especially cigars, takes hundreds of hands and a lot of trust and contribution to come to fruition. Therefore, I loved the concept that inspired the project known as CAO Session. When I had the privilege of speaking with CAO Master Blender, Rick Rodriguez, at the IPCPR (PCA) trade show this past July, he walked me through his tradition with his neighbors. Whenever he’s worked on blends in the past, he’ll open up his garage to his neighbors and have a “session.” The feedback received proves vital to Rodriguez’s process.

For the CAO Session, Rodriguez teamed up with old confidant and colleague Yuri Guillen, the factory manager for General Cigar Dominicana. It’s been a decade since CAO has had a cigar manufactured in the Dominican Republic; the CAO Vision was the last cigar to be made there. The Session, as Rodriguez noted, is “an everyday cigar that is something special.”

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CAO Session cigar box open

CAO Session Garage Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Dominican
  • Filler: Nicaraguan | Dominican
  • Factory: General Cigar Dominicana (Dominican Republic)
  • Production: Regular Production
  • Vitola: 5¼″ × 55 “Garage”
  • Price: $8.59 (MSRP)

The Session, as mentioned, is a Dominican-manufactured cigar wrapped in Connecticut Broadleaf. The binder and part of the filler are heralds from the factory’s home in the Dominican Republic, with the addition of some Nicaraguan tobacco in the filler.

The full CAO Session lineup includes:

  • Garage: 5¼” x 55 | $8.59 | 20-ct box
  • Bar: 6″ x 49 | $8.99 | 20-ct box
  • Shop: 6″ x 60 | $9.59 | 20-ct box

Appearance

The broadleaf that encapsulates this cigar is very toothy, with a healthy sheen and noticeable oil to it. The band design features a primary band with “SESSION” in white block lettering. The classic “CAO” logo is colored blue and has a burnt orange background. There is a secondary band that features the same white block lettering with the words, “SIT. SMOKE. CHILL.” wrapping to the cigar’s backside. The aroma coming off the cigar and unlit foot are ones of earth, plum, and pepper.

I cut the cap with my guillotine lighter and light with my single-flame XIKAR Stratosphere lighter. The smoke coming off the toasted foot has aromas of pepper and faint coffee.

Click images below for full resolution

Smoking Experience

Upon the lighting of this cigar the flavors immediately hit the palate with copious plum sweetness, earth, and an added brightness of orange zest. Those intense flavors drop off throughout the first third and a resurgence of the pre-light aroma earthiness settles in.

CAO Session Garage cigar smoking

As the cigar progresses, flavors continue to pop up but become muted after a few continuous puffs. It’s worth noting that when flavor resurgences pop up, they POP UP. The sweetness of the plum is rich and the pepper is spicy, but not overwhelming. The earthiness is savory and balancing. But, as soon as they arrive, they are gone—until the next pop.

As the cigar wraps up, I continue to smoke while pulling on what I’ve come to realize is my sweet spot (when it comes to drawing). The draw has been consistent with a slight resistance, which is my bag. The flavors, however, continue to become more muted and fade into a single note of earthiness. The conclusion of the smoke is hot and acrid.

CAO Session Garage cigar ash

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

As many of our readers know, I am a huge cigar-aging nerd and I have to wonder what some six months to two years would do for this cigar. I’m interested to see because Dominican tobacco has a terrific propensity for aging well. That being said, I would smoke this cigar again, but only after some time.


Profile
  • Flavor: Medium
  • Strength: Medium
  • Body: Medium
Core Flavors
  • Plum
  • Earthiness
  • Pepper
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour
  • Pairing Recommendation: Dark-roast coffee | Bourbon | Porter | Dried fruits and walnuts
  • Purchase Recommendation: Try one

CAO Session Garage cigar nub finished

Images without Cigar Dojo watermark provided by General Cigar Co.
CAO Session 'Garage'
The inspiration for this cigar is a beautiful narrative of how new cigars come into our midst. The hard work and careful construction to make a cigar is a process with many levels of contribution. Rodriguez, as with many of his projects, seeks to truly bring something unique and different, enlisting the aid of others to bring the story of Session to life. The downside? In this reviewer’s opinion, it’s incomplete. There were genuine puffs of excellence throughout this cigar, but the flavors never sustained for any length of time in a consistent manner.
Appearance90%
Burn/Construction85%
Draw90%
Flavor72%
Complexity72%
Price/Value89%
Pros
  • Quintessential draw
  • Solid price point
Cons
  • Inconsistency
  • Hot finish
  • Sudden drop-offs after flavors emergence
83%In Session
  • Large Humidor Giveaway
  • Cigars and Pipes 17% Off
  • Lords of England
  • Casa Cuevas Cigars

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