Last April, General Cigar Co. announced a new promotion for its CAO brand, Last Stick Standing. Three different 5 1/2 x 54 cigars—labeled C, A and O—would be handed out to consumers at events over the course of three months, consumers would vote on which one they liked best. While the C blend was tweaked to become the CAO Concert, the O blend was actually the winning blend. Later that year, it was announced that it would be released in the form of the Hurricane.

It took some more tweaking, but this past May a 6 x 54 version of the cigar began shipping to retailers. Limited to just 3,000 boxes of 10 cigars, it has joined a host of other limited edition CAOs that have been released this year.

The Hurricane features red and black branding with great matte black boxes that have a curvature that reminds you of a humidor.

CAO Hurricane Box 1

CAO Hurricane Box 2

CAO Hurricane Box 3

CAO Hurricane 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: CAO Hurricane
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: STG Estelí
  • Wrapper: Nicaragua
  • Binder: Honduran
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Size:  6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Toro Gordo
  • MSRP: $6.99 (Boxes of 10, $69.95)
  • Date Released: May 14, 2013
  • Number of Cigars Released: 3,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

I really like the packaging of the Hurricane and it definitely is helped by the Dark Nicaraguan wrapper. The cigar looks great with a decent bit of reds in the wrapper itself, no doubt helped by the bands and tons of oils. It’s soft in the hand with great weight, albeit a bit dry. It’s a medium plus aroma from the wrapper. muted notes of earthy barnyard with a hint of woodsy sweetness. From the foot, a more pungent and stronger dark barnyard note with woodsiness, increased sweetness and a hint of pepper. Cold draw provides some natural tobacco sweetness with a lot of veneer-like flavor and some pepper on the front of the tongue.

Depending on the cut, the first third starts either loose or tight, more on that below. Regardless, the Hurricane begins with some generic woodsiness that transforms into a heartier cedar, peppers throughout the tongue and a good bit of strength. Unfortunately, the Hurricane has an unpleasant burnt aroma. The core of the CAO is woody with some underlying sweetness, there’s spices and sweetness underneath and occasionally delicacies of coffee and leather. The aroma has managed to become even more unpleasant: burnt barnyard.  Construction is marred by the draw, which I never figured out, but with a loose draw there’s plenty of smoke production.

CAO Hurricane 2

By the beginning of the second third the power of the Hurricane has become more than apparent. The cigar was solidly full in the first third and it isn’t letting up in the second third. Flavor-wise, the CAO is much creamier, there’s a touch of white pepper on the tongue with woodsiness still the main focus. It’s a step in the right direction, but I’m not sure how much it matters. Through the nose the peppers are drowning out other notes making the flavor profile a bit more simplistic than it actually is.

CAO Hurricane 3

As the final third begins I’m a bit bored. Even when the cigar burns quicker, the Hurricane is the same sort of earthy woodsiness that it started with. It’s not a carbon copy, but it’s the same basic core with little changing elsewhere. The creaminess and peppers both pick up, but it’s secondary notes. The cigar doesn’t get hot before I put it out, but I barely make it to the inch mark.

CAO Hurricane 4

Final Notes:

  • I v-cut one of these samples, what a mistake that was. The cigar really needs a decent bit taken off the top for the sake of the draw. Just don’t do it.
  • Unfortunately, both attempts at the straight cut produced an incredibly open draw. I couldn’t control the Hurricane, but at least the smoke production was drastically improved.
  • The box we received smelled like paint, plan and simple. It was still sealed and as soon as the plastic was removed, paint. I contacted a few retailers, none of whom still had sealed boxes, and no one else seemed to notice this. Red paint, black paint and paint smell, this sounds familiar.
  • That being said, we immediately took the cigars out of the box and placed them in the humidor for a few weeks. The only time they were returned to the box was to photograph the above pictures.
  • As for natural disaster cigars. I couldn’t find any cigars named earthquake. La Aurora’s Para Japón was made for victims of an earthquake and subsequent tsunami. There’s a company called Tornado Premium Cigars.
  • José Ortega, vp of sales for My Father Cigars, refers to his office as “The Hurricane Lounge.” Over the years, he’s often referred to cigars that he was smoking in the office as various Category X cigars.
  • I think the artwork for this release is actually quite good, but I’m not really sure what’s up with the black box at the top of the box.
  • Credit where credit is due. This is a big cigar, in nice packaging, sold to B&Ms at a really good price.
  • While not my favorite brand, I think General Cigar Co. has done quite well with CAO over the last two years. I remember the hysteria that was circling when they formally took over the company in late 2010, I definitely don’t think they’ve done anything to “screw it up,” which was the fear back then.
  • This is a full cigar, I haven’t smoked a Brazilia in a while, but I would have to imagine this is the strongest thing in the CAO portfolio.
  • The cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by site sponsor Cigar King.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 10 minutes at its shortest, over two and a half with the tight draw.
  • If you are interested in purchasing a box of CAO Hurricanes all of our site sponsors are sold out. However, Atlantic Cigar (1.800.887.7877), Best Cigar Prices (1.888.412.4427), Cigar King (1.800.669.7167),Famous Smoke (1.800.564.2486) & Superior Cigars (1.800.733.3397) and Tobacco Grove (793.494.6688) all carry CAO.

Update: The original version of this review indicated the cigar contained only Nicaraguan tobacco. The review has been updated to reflect CAO’s website.

80 Overall Score

I didn't smoke the Last Stick Standing blends, but I definitely wouldn't vote for this. I actually thought the OSA Sol was a good release, the Concert marketing wasn't for me, but the cigar is a decent buy; the Hurricane is not. At no point of the two plus hours it took me to smoke the Hurricanes I tried was I impressed, excited or even intrigued by the flavor. This was a strong, full and boring cigar. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't good.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.