CAO Arcana Firewalker
Snow blanketed the city yesterday morning until it melted when we hit 60’s a few hours later. Today, its in the 70s and absolute perfect weather as I head out back with a CAO Arcana Firewalked paired with a bottle of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Double Barrel Brand Toasted Barrel Stout.
The Good Stuff:
Firewalker is the latest release in CAOs Arcana portfolio which features limited runs of cigar produced with rarer tobaccos. Last year’s Arcana Mortal Coil was one of my favorite cigars I smoked all year. The Firewalker features an Ecuadorian Habano Rosado wrapper over Nicaraguan Binder and Filler. The fillers actually go through a very unique and ancient process called Chincagre. The filler comes from the Mastepe region in Nicaragua. Once the tobacco is stacked in pilons, those pilones are then buried in volcanic soil for two months to ferment. Once ready, the tobacco is removed and then goes through another round of fermentation for 9 months at the factory. This painstaking process is used by tobacco farmers in western Nicaragua to trap in the sweetness and aromatic flavors of the tobacco that could be lost in open-air fermentation. The Arcana Firewalker comes in a sign 6 1/2 x 56 format which comes packaged in 20-count boxes running $11.99 per stick. Only 5,000 boxes will be produced. Big thanks to CAO for sending a few of these our way for review.
- Size: 6 1/2 x 56
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Rosado
- Binder: Nicaraguan
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Body: Medium/Full
- Strength: Medium
- Price: $11.99
- Pairing: Goose Island Bourbon County Double Barrel Brand Toasted Barrel Stout (Imperial Stout 16% ABV)
Let’s get the obvious out of the way, this thing has a HUGE band much like the Mortal Coil did. Underneath the band is a very rough, rustic looking wrapper that is mostly medium brown with scattered reddish, light brown, and orange tints. The wrapper’s texture carries some light toothy and loads of oils. The wrapper itself feels very thick and sturdy while the cigar as a whole is very hard and heavy. I think I could beat someone down with this thing. The wrapper is laid seamlessly over itself leading up to the cigar’s large, round, double-wrapped cap with just a tiny little tail sticking up. Then of course, the band. It’s a dark gray with black and red embossed ink which covers about 2/3 of the cigar’s body. The Arcana and CAO crest can be found printed on the front and back while “FIREWALKER” runs down the side.
The wrapper on the Arcana Firewalker gives off a great amount of sweet tobacco and gingerbread while the foot of the cigar is mostly musk and earthiness. The cap took a little convincing from my Xikar XO double bladed cutter, but once clipped the cold draw releases notes of musk, tartness, and earthiness with some subtle sweetness.
The CAO Arcana Firewalker starts out with a quick blast of black pepper which didn’t stick around too long before the cigar began to release bold notes of dark chocolate and raspberry over wood, gingerbread, pecan, and loads of earthiness. The opening profile is fantastic. The draw is perfect. Each little puff kicks out loads of thick, gray smoke while the cigar releases a huge amount of stationary smoke while it rests in my ashtray. The burn line started a bit wild but has now corrected itself as it’s burning solid and even leaving behind a tightly compacted trail of white ash which held on for almost an inch before falling into my ashtray.
Into the second third of the CAO Arcana Firewalker and I am getting the bold dark chocolate and raspberry still over lighter notes of wood, pecan, sweetness and musk while a great floral/cologne type flavor is found on the aftertaste. The retrohale brings out some toasted spice notes that I don’t get during the standard smoking experience. The cigar is still burning flawlessly and I close out with nothing in terms of nicotine.
Here we are into the homestretch of the CAO Arcana Firewalker and this thing is still firing on all cylinders. The bold chocolate and raspberry are still the dominant flavors here with notes of pecan, wood, sweetness and musk. This is such a great flavor profile. It took me almost 2 hours to smoke this cigar down to the nub and I really enjoyed every minute of it. There were no burn issues, no extended heat, no harshness and very little nicotine.
Last year the Arcana Mortal Coil caught me by surprise with how great it was which led to high expectations for the Firewalker, and it delivered. The flavors were balanced and complex while still being incredibly enjoyable. There is a sweet-spot for me where a cigar is bold in body and flavor while not being overpowered by nicotine. The Firewalker fell in the mid-range for strength which was perfect. I don’t know that I liked it more than the Mortal Coil, but I didn’t need to. They are very different cigars which both offered a very unique experience and I can really appreciate the work that went into the tobacco process for this cigar.
One note: I hate these Chinese finger trap bands. They tend to do more harm than good as they always tug and tear on the cigar’s wrapper. Not to mention you have to take the band off so early in. Also, it hides the beauty of the cigar.
Goose Island’s Bourbon County Double Barrel Brand Toasted Barrel Stout is their standard Bourbon County Brand Stout aged in Elijah Craig small batch bourbon barrels, then aged in Elijah Craig Toasted bourbon Barrels. The result is a boozy little 16% Imperial stout. The beer leads with heavy sweetness, caramel, vanilla, roasted malt, pecan and a great black cherry flavor I don’t normally pick up in Bourbon County. The mouthfeel is incredible thick and sticky while the beer finishing with more vanilla and caramel over some sweet barrel flavors and a lasting bourbon bite. This is such a great example of the perfect treatment of this beer. I’ve had so many of it’s variants that just didn’t do much for me however this is the first one in a while that really got my attention. The flavors paired perfectly with the musk, pecan, and sweetness from the Firewalker while the black cherry note added a whole other dimension to the pairing.