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In 2013, General Cigar Co. added a pair of holiday-themed CAOs each with a somewhat evil personality. The cigars sold well, better than General expected and as such a holiday series has emerged with limited edition CAOs arriving for the last three winter holiday seasons as well as the fourth of July holiday and halloween.

The cigars have had some similarities: they’ve all be 6 1/2 x 52, all come in boxes of 14 and all have been limited.

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For this winter, CAO created the Stingy Scrooge and Wicked Winter, the latter of which is being reviewed today. The cigars feature fairly different blends with Stingy Scrooge using a Connecticut habano wrapper, Brazilian Arapiraca binder and filler tobaccos from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua. Wicked Winter uses a Honduran wrapper, American broadleaf binder and filler tobacco from Honduras and Nicaragua.

CAO Holiday Series

CAO Wicked Winter 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: CAO Wicked Winter
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: STG Estelí
  • Wrapper: Honduras
  • Binder: U.S. Broadleaf
  • Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro Extra
  • MSRP: $8 (Boxes of 14, 112)
  • Release Date: Nov. 9, 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: n/a
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

There’s a gigantic band, although it honestly is smaller than I recall it being. On things that also aren’t how I remember, the cigar is much darker than the promotional items seemed to imply. Aroma-wise there’s not much, a touch of cocoa and some cedar. From the cold daw I get a big cocoa flavor along with some bark and faint hints of leather. My notes say it tastes rather Nicaragua, which might give some indication about the filler blend makeup.

The Wicked Winter starts with a big toasty oak flavor. The cocoa from the cold draw is there, but tit takes a few seconds before it makes any interaction with the palate. I also pick up some floral sweetness in the early stages of the finish, which I wasn’t totally expecting, followed by some grass, wheat, hay and creaminess. The first third develops into a mixture of a wood-centric core with oak being the only real varietal I can identify with certain. It’s also quite toasty with some creaminess and hay towards the back end. On the back of the throat I get some black pepper with some salty peanut shells up front. The flavor is medium-full with a lengthy finish. Strength is also medium-full while the body is full. I need to make a touch-up or two to all three samples in the first third, but otherwise construction is great.

CAO Wicked Winter 2

Eventually, the toasty and wood core gives way to some earthiness. It’s joined alongside some meatiness, but the mouth is not where most the flavor is. Through the nose I get a lot of oak, bitter root beer, grain cereal and some green licorice. The pepper takes even longer to kick in, but it’s still in the back of the throat, albeit, a bit shorter than it once was. The minor burn issues of the CAO resolve themselves and I’m able to make it through the second third on all three samples without having to touch up any of the cigars I smoke.

CAO Wicked Winter 3

The bitter root beer note moves down from the nose and is now sitting on the tongue. While it’s not a dominating feature, it is most certainly a prominent one. Otherwise, the mouth reverts back to the first third with a toastiness and some oak-centric wood taking the forefront of the profile. There’s some added harshness to the finish joining the ever-present black pepper. I suspect this problem is related to the fact that I’m having to smoke with a bit quicker rates to keep the cigar from going out. I’m not really sure how to resolve this issue for the Wicked Winter, other than putting the cigar out. The strength actually picks up a bit, finishing the cigar around the full mark.

CAO Wicked Winter 4

Final Notes

  • The bands are still too big for my liking, but I do appreciate the artwork.
  • Bravo to General Cigar Co. for keeping the price points on these cigars extremely low.
  • This was about as strong as a cigar I’ve smoked from General in the last three or four years. It begins medium-full and finishes full.
  • Valentine’s Day is coming up. I just hope we don’t see a St. Patrick’s Day edition, I think that holiday has been beaten to death enough by cigar manufacturers.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 10 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsor Cigar Hustler has the CAO Wicked Winter in stock.
82 Overall Score

For two thirds, the CAO Wicked Winter was enjoyable, and then came the final third. While it was not the greatest cigar ever in the first four inches, it was enjoyable and with some decent depth. I wish the flavors had a bit more detail, but that’s hardly where my criticism of the cigar begins. It’s the final third, plain and simple. The General Cigar Co.-owned CAO has made some good cigars, this simply isn’t one of them.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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