Most avid cigar connoisseurs have heard of—or possibly even seen—a pilón. For those that are unfamiliar with the term, a pilón is a stack of layered tobacco that helps to ferment the leaf. This is a tradition that can be traced back to the 1800s in Cuba. In 2015, the original CAO Pilón cigar was named after this time-honored technique. Coming to us in April of 2022 was a limited-edition extension of this line: Pilón Añejo. Not only was this cigar rolled with tobacco aged for 18 months in small circular pilónes (as opposed to the larger rectangular ones that are most common), the finished cigars themselves were aged for two years. These cigars are available in three different sizes and are limited to a release of 5,000 boxes.

Former CAO blender/ambassador Rick Rodriquez says, “With CAO Pilón Añejo, we’ve combined pilón fermentation which does such incredible things to the tobacco, with a full two years of aging of the finished cigars. Together, these methods add a whole new dimension to the blend. We’ve ultimately created a layered smoking experience that we could not have achieved through any other processes. This cigar is just a pleasure to smoke, and the team and I are really proud of it.”

CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Binder: Honduran Habano
  • Filler: Nicaragua | Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Honduran American Tobacco S.A. (Honduras)
  • Production: Limited Edition (5,000 boxes of 20 cigars)
  • Vitola: 5½″ × 54 (Robusto)
  • Price: $8.89 (MSRP)

Vitolas

  • Robusto: 5½” x 54 | $8.89 (box of 20 cigars $177.80)
  • Toro: 6″ x 52 | $8.99 (box of 20 cigars $179.80)
  • Gigante: 5⅞” x 60 | $9.29 (box of 20 cigars $185.80)
  • Atlantic Cigar Sale

Appearance

The cigar is wrapped in a dark, reddish-brown wrapper with quite a bit of color mottling. There is not very much oil on the surface, giving the wrapper a rather dry appearance. The seams are very well done, and aside from a few larger veins, the surface of the cigar is quite smooth. Interestingly, there are several capillary veins running through the wrapper that really add some eye appeal to the cigar. Overall, it is quite firm, with very little give to it. The band of the cigars feature a gray leaf bundle with gold veins and the CAO name in white through the middle. The rest of the band is black and white, with the darker section featuring leaves drawn in gold and the lighter section displaying the words “PILÓN AÑEJO” in black with a gray drop shadow.

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Smoking Experience

The pre-light aroma from this cigar has heavy notes of barnyard, cocoa, and natural tobacco, with just a hint of red pepper flakes; while the body of the cigar is predominantly barnyard. The pre-light draw—which is on the tighter side—has a little bit of bitterness to it, as well as a mustiness like a damp basement.

At first light, leather is the first note that jumps on the palate, which is quickly joined by dark chocolate, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes on the finish. The retrohale has a charred meat note along with a little white pepper and mustiness. Overall, there is a fair amount of a salty sweetness to the profile, which creates saliva and really helps smooth the profile on the palate and allow the flavors to sit on the tongue for quite a long finish. I would put strength in the medium range, with body stepping up into the lower end of medium-full. The draw is pretty tight, taking a few good puffs to get a mouthful of smoke. The burn is wobbly but acceptable.

CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto cigar smoking

Getting into the middle part of the cigar, the intensity of the salty/sweetness increases, and a creaminess is introduced. Some will call me crazy here, but this cigar has hints of a Drumstick ice cream treat (including chocolate, sweet cream, and salty peanuts) and what I would equate to a sugar cone. Combined with the meaty/mustiness that is still present in the retrohale, it gives a very pleasing sweet/savory profile to the cigar that I would state as umami, as it is hitting all aspects of the palate at once. The draw is still tight, requiring multiple puffs, while the burn continues to perform with the waviness down to a minimum. This is joined by a firm light gray ash that holds on ’til almost the bottom of the band. Strength is still medium at best, while the body is staying solidly in the medium-full range.

Getting through the midpoint and towards the final part of the cigar, things take a turn in a different direction. The sweetness is still there, but now there is a wood note that tastes like pine tar that is muting everything with a bitterness that is not a welcome change. The meatiness is also gone from the retrohale, and there is now a mild black pepper note. Meanwhile, the mustiness has increased in intensity to that of wet concrete—a huge change in profile after such an enjoyable middle section. Getting a little farther into the final part of the cigar, it appears there must have been something amiss with that section of the leaf, as the sweetness returns almost out of thin air, joined with buttered popcorn and butterscotch. The retrohale is still pepper and wet concrete, where it remains ’til the end. The draw remained tight the entire way through, but it didn’t have too much effect on the smoking experience.

CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto cigar ash

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

If I had to answer before finishing the whole cigar, I would have said probably not, due to the tarry bitterness that showed up early in the final section. The fact that it turned around and continued with the sweet and savory profile it had maintained from early on pushes me in the yes direction.

Additional Info

Profile
  • Flavor: Medium / Full
  • Strength: Medium
  • Body: Medium / Full
Core Flavors
  • Drumstick ice cream treat
  • Popcorn
  • Charred meat
  • Heavy saltiness
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Aged rum | Bourbon (100 proof max) | Medium-roast coffee | Spiced soda
  • Purchase Recommendation: Try a fiver

CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto cigar nub finished

CAO Pilón Añejo Robusto
I don’t remember much about the original CAO Pilón, but from what I do, this is a much more polished experience. It is apparent with the refined nature in how this cigar smokes. I must say, I was concerned with the tight draw detected in the pre-light. And while it never opened up during the experience, it had little impact on how the cigar smoked overall. The Drumstick (ice cream treat) component in the middle section alone would keep me coming back to this cigar, even if I didn’t finish it and put it down after halfway. That, in my opinion, says quite a bit about the blend used in this cigar.
Appearance87%
Burn/Construction90%
Draw84%
Flavor90%
Complexity85%
Price/Value88%
Pros
  • Sweet and savory profile
  • Slow burn to enjoy the flavors
  • Very well-mannered strength
Cons
  • Tight draw
  • Ring gauge is a little thick
  • Sweetness could make it hard to pair
87%Just Desserts
  • Cigar Wars
  • Dunbarton Tobacco & Trust
  • Aganorsa Leaf
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