CAO Cigars is widely popular for crafting blends that are simply unlike any other. Living by the motto of “Boundaries are made to be broken,” the iconic brand has long been noted for its innovativeness. Among the brand’s repertoire of impressive blends, a steady string of hits like the mellow yet flavor-packed CAO Gold and the award-winning CAO La Traviata has drawn accolades from cigar enthusiasts worldwide and propelled the brand to be one of the highly acclaimed cigar brands in the industry.

CAO has an expansive portfolio of top-quality cigars, so selecting the perfect blend for any taste preference has never been easier. I have recently gone down the CAO rabbit hole and splurged on several stogies from their creative lines to restock my humidor. With about an hour to pass, I decide to grab a CAO Signature Series Robusto for a morning smoke paired with a freshly brewed espresso to wake my senses for the day ahead.

Wrapper Origin: Ecuador Shape: Robusto
Length: 4.5 Ring: 50
Wrapper: Sumatra List Price: $112.50 (Box of 18)
Origin: Nicaragua Strength: Mellow

Pull of Cigar

The first thing that caught my eye with the CAO Signature Series Robusto is its stunning cigar band. A noticeable toothy texture runs through an otherwise silky smooth reddish-brown Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. Underneath, a Connecticut Broadleaf Binder hugs a mouthwatering blend of Nicaraguan, Dominican, and Honduran tobaccos — all meticulously harvested, selected and set down to age for an extensive duration in true superb CAO standard to increase its depth and complexity.

Two bands adorn the length of the Signature Series, solidifying its visual appeal. The CAO logo is proudly displayed in the center of the primary band using eye-popping, bold hues of gold, red, and black. The thin second band declares the stick as a “CAO Signature Series” in an elegant font.

To put it simply, the entire presentation of the CAO Signature Series Robusto is beautiful with a lot to tell. Even as I was still caught in the visual allure of the cigar, the cold essence already captivated me beforehand — a succulent aroma of sweet cedar, earthy tobacco, and wood exudes from head to foot, never faltering even as I lit and smoked the stick.

I puffed on the unlit cigar and was met with a delightful earthiness of oak and leather. I also picked up a subtly tart yet wonderfully sweet note of black cherry with a light nuance of graham cracker, bringing its own tinge of sweetness to the mix. The CAO Signature Series Robusto is an effortless thrill to smoke, showing off perfect resistance with every pull.


The initial light brings a developing note of dark coffee with a slightly chalky texture on the palate. Delightful nuances of nutmeg, leather, and grains then reveal a touch of earthiness around the edges. A nice dose of black pepper spice then rouses the palate with intense aroma and warmth akin to a powerful punch of cloves. After a few more puffs, the profile surrenders marvelous notes of oak and sweet vanilla in a series of smooth and effortless puffs. The CAO Signature Series Robusto is already off to a good start.

About half an inch into this Robusto, a strong dose of cedar comes through to complement a sweet and earthy profile. As I progress further, I am greeted with a wave of creamy textures that excellently balances the profile. One of my favorite aspects of the CAO Signature Series is that the complexity doesn’t hold back even at the first inch — a plethora of prominent flavors keep me on my toes, excitedly guessing what flavors are yet to be revealed.

The CAO Signature Series Robusto reveals a medium-bodied profile as I arrive on the second third. The retrohale is nothing short of remarkably smooth and well-rounded, delivering a lovely mix of light pepper, wood, and cedar. Halfway into the stick, a hint of creaminess persists while delightful notes of dried fruit and floral wood come into play. Plenty of peppery nuances emerge and leave a spicy tingle on my tongue. There is no mild about this deliciously good cigar. And just when I thought the profile has already unraveled all the flavors it has to offer, an astringent note of wine-like tannin settles across the palate and provides a pleasant dry mouthfeel.

Not a single component is out of place or attempting to steal the thunder of the overall character of this masterfully blended cigar. The tannin is a welcome component that adds to the magnificence of the flavor profile — it marries together beautifully with the present flavors, adding bitterness, astringency, and complexity to the profile. Although slightly wavy, the burn line is thin and posed no issue to the smoking experience. The gray and white ash stays perfectly firm despite a thump or two against my ashtray — a testament to the cigar’s impeccable construction.

Sophistication and satisfaction meet in the final third of this Robusto. The smoky resonance of the cigar delivers residual flavors of tannin and zesty citrus, while a tender bouquet of light pepper, cedar, and oak emerges through the retrohale. A dark cedar element, along with a sweet and tangy note of dark fruit, rises to the surface and lingers just enough to tease me to smoke another stogie.

The CAO Signature Series Robusto returns to a profile of dark coffee, black cherry, and sweet spice toward the end. The earthiness recedes, but the cigar’s zesty finish leaves a satisfying impression. The cigar reached its finale, delivering what I always expect from a CAO cigar: a phenomenal smoking experience that allows me to sit back and enjoy the journey.


CAO Signature

Judging by the masterful craftsmanship of this CAO Signature Series Robusto, the makers of the cigar certainly enjoyed making the blend for the pleasure of both amateur and seasoned cigar enthusiasts. Throughout the smoking experience, aromatic plumes of thick white smoke consistently billow from the foot of the cigar without becoming an overwhelming smokestack in the room. The profile was not overly complex but provided for an incredible experience nonetheless.

Overall, the Signature Series is a great everyday smoke that will surely fit right into my rotation. Another cigar makes it to my list of go-to CAO cigars. The CAO Signature Series Robusto is a reliable, medium-bodied cigar from a widely distributed brand, and for such an affordable price, you’d be hard-pressed to find a cigar better than this. This earns a well-deserved 90-point rating.

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Maria Morales

Maria Morales