At the 2014 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, General Cigar Co. released a unique cigar named CAO Amazon Basin which relied heavily on Bragança, a tobacco grown in the Amazon rainforest and harvested just once every three years.

Our story on the General Cigar Co. booth at the IPCPR show had more info on the unique process it took to get the Amazon Basin to the market.

Unlike traditional tobacco plantations where the plants are arranged in neat rows, these seeds are planted wherever there is available sunlight. Once harvested, the leaves are rolled by hand into tubes called carottes and undergo six months of natural fermentation, a technique similar to that of Andullo tobacco. Once fermented, it takes four to six weeks to get them from forest to factory, a process that involves being hand carried to the river, put into canoes and rowed to the mainland, then driven to the port and shipped to Nicaragua where they are made.

As for the rest of the blend incorporated a Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper and a Nicaraguan binder. It was released in a single 6 x 52 size that was rolled at STG Estelí in Nicaragua. It’s considered a limited production release.

Here is what I said in my original review of the CAO Amazon Basin almost a year ago:

After being surprised with how much I liked the Cohiba Nicaragua, I was looking forward to seeing what General had in store for the CAO Amazon Basin. Quite a fuss was made about the unique tobacco in the blend, and while I enjoyed the cigar as a whole, I just did not taste that much uniqueness in the flavors that were present. The first two thirds are easily the best, and the final score would have been higher if the harshness had not been present in the final third. Having said that, overall the profile of the cigar is quite enjoyable, enough to recommend it.

  • Cigar Reviewed: CAO Amazon Basin
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: STG Estelí
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Brazil & Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $9.25 (Boxes of 18, $166.50)
  • Date Released: Aug. 14, 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 1

As with the first time I reviewed it, the wrapper on the CAO Amazon Basin is a noticeably reddish and dark brown color that features both some significant veins as well as some obvious oil. It is fairly smooth to the touch, and is just a bit more spongy than I expected when squeezed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of leather, earth, dark cocoa, oak and sweet raisins, while the cold draw brings flavors of the same sweet raisins, oak, coffee beans, milk chocolate and nuts.

Starting out, the CAO Amazon Basin features dominant flavors of anise, dark cocoa, leather, oak and creamy peanuts, along with a touch of spice on my tongue that lasts for only about 10 puffs before receding to the background. The same raisin sweetness that I noticed in both the scent of the wrapper and the cold draw is present in force on the finish from the beginning, while the retrohale brings a noticeable black pepper note that seems to be increasing as the cigar continues to burn down.

CAO Amazon Basin

The second half of the CAO Amazon Basin has much of the same profile of the first half, but I do notice some buttery popcorn note that starts to become more and more obvious as the cigar burns down into the final third. There is also a bit of a saltiness that begins to show up on my lips, but it is never very strong, and disappears fairly quickly.

Construction-wise, the draw on the CAO Amazon Basin is excellent for the entire cigar, with just the right amount of resistance, and while the burn is wavy enough to force me to to touch it up for about the first half, it evens up nicely after that, giving me no more problems. Smoke production is well above average from the start. While the overall strength starts out quite mild, it does reach a solid medium by the time I put the nub down with about an inch left.

Site sponsors Serious Cigars and STOGIES World Class Cigars have the CAO Amazon Basin in stock.

89 Overall Score

This is one of those cigars that I knew I wanted to redux the minute I finished the original review. Would some significant time tone down the harshness in the profile that hurt it so significantly the first time around, or would it turn out that was just a part of what makes up the cigar? Thankfully, I can report that the former is the case, as the overall flavors in the cigar are slightly more complex, but more importantly, has the added bonus of not featuring the same harshness at any point during the smoke. While I still think it could be improved in any number of ways, 10 months of age has done wonders for the CAO Amazon Basin, and I can easily recommend picking some up if you can find them.

Original Score (August 2014)
Redux Score (June 2015)
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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.