The CAO Black VR is a cigar I’ve had my eyes on for a while. The plan was that if I stumbled on them in a local B&M, I would make a point to try one. But as you may already know, you’re not likely to find these anywhere but a few online retailers. It wasn’t until Walt and I were guests on a recent episode of Dogwatch Cigar Radio that my interest was peaked enough to search them out. The Black VR was that show’s cigar, and the big question was, would Bob like it? Dale enjoyed it, and thought Bob would, in spite of his general dislike for CAO cigars. Well did he? To find out, you’ll have to listen to show #153. But if you stick around here for a bit, I’ll let you know if I liked it.
Size: 5 x 50
Filler: Mexico, Dominican Republic
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
The Black VR comes wrapped in two bands. The main band is essentially the same as the band on the Gold, only with black in place of the tan. The second band is a bit of a curiosity to me. It’s a black band with an abstract pattern of white lines crisscrossing it. But it isn’t the pattern that’s the curiosity, it’s why the band is even there. What I mean is that I nearly lit the cigar with this foot band on, because it kind of blends in. Why put a black band on a nearly black cigar? (Note: My first experience with these wasn’t as well lit as the picture above. It does stand out a bit more in better lighting.)
What I really liked was the look of the wrapper. It kind of reminded me of those “distressed” jeans that were so popular a short while back. You know, the ones that looked like you drug your butt across the shop floor of a Jiffy Lube after an oil change and forgot to wash it for a week. The wrapper leaf had a dark, mottled, oily look to it that just brings to mind oil, earth and shop floors. That doesn’t sound complimentary, but it really looks great.
Further inspection of the leaf revealed a small hole in the wrapper near the head of the cigar. The hole’s perfect roundness sent a shiver of terror up my spine. Beetles! Fortunately, my fears were unfounded, it was merely a small defect in the wrapper. Otherwise, the cigars were without flaws. Nicely firm, fairly smooth, a few prominent veins, in all, pretty much what you might expect from a good maduro wrapper.
So having more than thoroughly inspected the cigar I reached for my cutter to take a cold taste. But this time, I didn’t reach for my notoriously dull, but flamboyantly-red Xikar. I reached for my brand new swanky Xikar scissors. How did they cut? Like a dream. (Check out the image to the right.) When I was done, I was ready to putt on the clipped head. Anyway, I found the cold taste to be all dark chocolate and molasses.
The burn on this cigar was generally very good. Of the three or four of these I smoked, only one burned a bit off. But not enough to even touch up. The ash the cigar produces is solid and white and usually hung on for about an inch before dropping. The draw was also predictably good. In fact, it has the exact same draw as every other CAO cigar I’ve ever smoked. You gotta hand it to them for consistency.
My only complaint about this cigar is that it goes out on cue right around the beginning of the final third. And once it goes out, the cigar seems to lose interest in the whole burning thing. It will continue to smoke, but you can’t let it rest too long between puffs.
The cigar starts off with an earthy cocoa flavor that quickly develops a bit of smooth creaminess. As the first third progresses I got interesting flavors including berry, coffee and tea. That’s right, both coffee and tea. Almost as soon as the second third starts, the flavor abruptly shifts back to earthiness that’s slightly fuller with a bit of a brown sugar finish. Cocoa and that berry flavor returns just before the final third begins.
As the cigar burns through its final inches, the earthiness continues and in joined by a pleasant cinnamon flavor and dark chocolate. Surprisingly, just as I was taking the final puffs off one cigar, I tasted sweet cocoa again.
Checking around online, it looks like you can buy these in the $5.50 to $6.40 range depending on how many sticks you want to buy. Obviously, I favor the lower of the two prices. However, since this cigar is a cigar you’ll probably have to buy online, make sure to check the auction websites, you may find a deal!
The flavors I got out of this cigar actually surprised me, I had expected a profile more in keeping with the CAO Gold, but what I tasted seemed to be a bit more, well, the word lively comes to mind. It was definitely a enjoyable smoke, and I was pleased with the burn. The body was a bit lighter that I’d prefer, especially at the beginning, but it’s a good cigar to pair with your morning coffee. And definitely one that smokers of milder cigars should consider trying out.
I have also smoked the CAO black natural recently and find the VR to be a little bit better than it’s paler brother. (If you’re interested in reading more about the other CAO Black, check out Walt’s review of it here.)
Liked It: Yeah, it was pretty good
Buy It Again: Probably
Recommend It: Yes as a morning smoke, or to mild cigar smokers
Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.
11 thoughts on “CAO Black VR Totem”
Good review Brian. I found it interesting that you were able to pick up that many different flavors in CAO. Don’t get me wrong I like CAO ( 6 different varieties in my humidors right now). However, often times find them lacking when it comes to prominent flavors (the flavors in the what I have smoked always seem to meld together). I may just have to seek these out as I find myself starting to smoke more and more in the morning. Good work guys.
P.S. I really like the new YQMA format.
“It kind of reminded me of those “distressed” jeans that were so popular a short while back.”
They’ve gone out of style?! Oh man.
…it’s not every day you find a website where you can find a wonderful cigar review AND fashion tips.
I was a bit surprised too. I’d say the earthiness and occasionally the cocoa flavors were most prominent. The other flavors like tea and berry were there, but were more subtle.
Glad I could help you out with some fashion advice too! LOL. I think you’re still safe with the jeans with the faded bits, but that ground in dirt look is dead. At least based on my scientific survey of what kids wear in the mall here in Hotlanta. Now go grab you a CAO Black VR and a lid with a perfectly flat bill and a dangling price tag!
….well, just up the road in Chattanooga we’re still a bit behind the times apparently. I apparently have an appointment with a CAO Black VR and a trip to JC Penny’s in my near future.
Keep up the good work.
Why isn’t this cigar even listed on CAO’s website? Is it discontinued?
Good question Jon W.,
I’ve also noticed that the Extreme isn’t on their site either, yet, when asked, they say it hasn’t been discontinued. I think in this case it’s that the CAO Black is a cigar they only make for a very few retailers. (Maybe only one – Cigars International.) I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been discontinued.
Very nice review Brian. I just had my first CAO (Brazilia) a couple weeks back and really like it. I got another 5 pack on the way. I am looking forward to trying others in their line. Keep up the good work.
C.A.O. Brazilla and MX2 tiend be the only ones within the brand I seek out, well…I will now add the somewhat mysterious Black VR. Your review indicates you think it is a quite decent cigar with a bit of complexity within the mildy (I’d say even medium) realm and I would certainly agree. I used the word “mysterious” because it is out there, but C.A.O. doesn’t seem to claim it. This could mean the production runs are over and the stock that was made is being shipped with no commitment to further production, or, perhaps, it is being made for certain marketing channels only? The Black VR seems to be mostly in-stock at one mail-order house at present . If I ventured a guess it has become that retailers baby, primarily . It is, however, for sale by others too as that dealer also operates as a wholesaler. Whatever the story is I think it’s an attempt to make a premium stick that appeals to a wide range of smokers. The flavor is hard to fault as it all those things you’ve mentioned plus it has a bit more strength and some spice too. Recommended.