That doesn't mean the cigars weren't good. Thanks probably in large part to then-marketing director Jon Huber (who has moved on to better things), the products largely lived up to the hype though most weren't quite 'boutique' enough on their own to please the true cigar lunatics.
Strangely, some of the best cigars the company has released came after their acquisition. La Traviata is an excellent medium-bodied cigar at a nice price. CAO OSA is also a genuinely distinctive and wonderful line. Someone recently had the good sense to bring back the Sopranos blend, now renamed Consigliere, and it's good as ever.
And that brings us to the Pilon. The gimmick here is that some of the tobacco is fermented using a slower and more expensive method in which the leaves are arranged in circular stacks ("pilons") which supposedly results in more intense flavor. We wouldn't know a pilon from a pylon but we'll take their word for it.
You'd think something like this would be tough to fire up and keep lit, but no. The Pilon lights pretty easily, and burns and draws well. The smoke is chewy, with earth and wood as a counterpoint for a nougat-like combination of baking spices, cake and confectionery. While it's more medium- than full-bodied, toward the end it does lean more towards full. Still, it's not strong, and even though it's better suited as an after-dinner cigar, a seasoned smoker could easily handle this midday.
We also tried the 7x48 churchill, but found the draw a little tight, which kept the flavors muted until it opened up after the first third. The 5x52 robusto would be a good choice for those who wish for something a little lusher and more mellow than the corona owing to it having more filler tobacco.
This is a fun and entertaining cigar that manages to pack loads of flavor into a small format—without excess strength. That's not always an easy trick. It verges on excellent, but the cigar's appearance is just a little too down home to make it into that category. Officially, we're rating it Very Good, but unofficially it's Very Very Good.
It's worth noting that, like the aforementioned La Traviata and OSA SOL, here we have anther CAO that's a good value. The corona is $6.15, while the entire range hovers right around that $7 mark. We think it nails the sweet spot for this particular line. Whoever is in charge of the CAO brand these days is aces in our book. Oh, and THANK YOU whoever you are for even offering this as a corona! It's a welcome respite from a market packed 6x60s.
W: Ecuador Habano
Rustic, rich and chewy, with a great interplay between wood/earth and nougat-like bakery spices. Despite the intense flavors, not overly strong. Very entertaining.