Earlier this year, CAO launched a new series to take us back in time, highlighting the old traditions of tobacco processing with a series called Arcana. The first of the series is the Mortal Coil, which looks at the andullo technique for tobacco fermentation. This process requires cured tobacco to be placed in palm tree pods, known as yaguas, and then tightly compressed with coiled rope. The tightness of the rope imparts pressure, which ferments and transforms the tobacco, bringing out a unique sweetness and texture.

Rick Rodriguez, CAO’s blender/ambassador said, “With the Arcana series, as we did with Amazon Basin and its Bragança leaf, we are once again shining a light on original tobacco fermentation methods to bring excitement to the fans of CAO. When it came to developing our first Arcana blend with Mortal Coil, we had the choice to go big or go home and as we always do, we decided to go big. The Andullo leaf in the blend shows the length the team and I are willing to go to deliver a unique taste experience, and it gives us a chance to show once again that CAO is a brand that stays true to its passion for tobacco.”

This series aims to showcase older processing techniques used throughout the making of cigars, bringing history to the present and providing an understanding and deeper respect for cigars of today. It will be interesting to see how many lines will make up the Arcana series, and where CAO goes with unique tobacco processing to bring a fresh perspective to this limited collection.

CAO Arcana Mortal Coil Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Connecticut Shade
  • Filler: Dominican Andullo | Dominican Piloto Cubano | Honduras (Jamastran) | Nicaragua (Estelí)
  • Factory: STG Estelí (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Limited Edition (5,000 boxes of 20 cigars)
  • Vitola: 6⅛″ × 50 (Toro)
  • Price: $10.99 (MSRP)

CAO Arcana Mortal Coil is hand crafted at the STG Estelí factory, with 5,000 boxes of 20 toros being made and subsequently distributed on February 1, 2021. The cigars were marketed to the US only.

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Mortal Coil has a dark, smooth, dry wrapper, with an elaborately coiled band around the cigar. Logically, the band brings in the theme of how the andullo tobacco is fermented with tightly bound ropes. Because the band wraps around, the words are a little hard to read. The band and box show a gothic-style font, contributing to the old-world/guarded theme of this series.

The cigar has an overall well-constructed wrapper, with a solid feel when pressing on the bunched tobacco. The density seems very firm, possibly due to the hearty nature of the andullo within. The wrapper has a wet, earthy smell from the foot to the cap, with a raisin/stone fruit smell coming from the foot. With a very light resistance, the cold draw produces a heavy raisin flavor.

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Smoking Experience

This cigar starts off with a very heavy sweetness of raisin/cherry fermented fruit flavor. The smoke hits the tip and rear of the tongue with acidity and sweetness, remaining on the palate with both the taste and physical sensation of fruity acid. This produces an odd first impression. There is mild smoke output from the beginning of this cigar, not offering much in the way of spice throughout the first third.

The second third of the cigar really picks up, with even more of the acidic feeling on the tongue. There are very strong fermented fruit flavors that crescendo up significantly during this part of the cigar. On the retrohale there is a deep earthy flavor, with little to no spice. This portion of the cigar produces a lot of sweetness, stepping up from the early beginnings.

CAO Arcana Mortal Coil cigar ash

The final segment of the cigar has a slight transition away from the sweet and fermented fruit flavors, but still having slight acidic undertones on the tongue. The prominent flavor is now earthy tobacco, with minimal sweetness noted. Still, there is not much spiciness to this last bit of the cigar.

Overall, the toro had pretty uniform flavor through the whole smoke. The burn was pretty good, with a light white/gray flaky ash that stayed on about one and a half inches at a time. There was not much of a transition during the cigar, just an increase and decrease of primary flavors—never straying too far from its base during the experience.

CAO Arcana Mortal Coil cigar smoking

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

CAO Arcana Mortal Coil proved a very interesting smoke, with fermented sweetness as the signature ingredient. Overall, I would most likely not smoke this cigar again because of the acid undertones on the tongue and the atypical sweetness throughout. The cigar would be best smoked in the afternoon, paring with something very mild, like mineral water or unsweetened tea (hot black tea). Mortal Coil may be worth a try, however, and perhaps is best suited for cigar smokers that like infused or sweet-tip experiences.

  • Flavor: Medium
  • Strength: Mild / Medium
  • Body: Medium
Core Flavors
  • Fermented fruits
  • Earthy tobacco
  • Acidic (both physically and in flavor)
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Hot black tea | Mineral water | Nothing too strong or sweet since the cigar has a lot of sweetness to it
  • Purchase Recommendation: Grab one to see what you think. However, with the cost of $11, it may be a little pricey to test out something this unique.

CAO Arcana Mortal Coil cigar nub finished

CAO Arcana Mortal Coil
The CAO Arcana Mortal Coil cigar offers a unique experience of old-world tobacco processing traditions. The tobacco and smoking experience itself makes for a very sweet/acidic fermented tobacco experience that, for some, might be what they are looking for; but for others, may be too overpowering of a flavor. This might be best for infused/sweet-tip cigar smokers, or hobbyists that are looking to transition from those types of cigars into other, more traditional profiles. The cigar might even be a good choice for a beginner cigar smoker. Overall, it's a unique and interesting smoke, but I believe it falls short for something I'd more than a couple times.
  • Unique flavor
  • Interesting concept of experiencing old world tobacco techniques
  • Consistent flavor throughout
  • Very strong, atypical sweetness, with an acidic feel on the tongue
  • A little over priced
  • Convoluted appearance
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