CAO Zocalo Robusto
We have had some of the worst, windiest, dust storms to start off our spring weather in El Paso so I haven’t been able to squeeze in a few lately. This weekend, the weather was perfect and I spent pretty much the entire weekend outside enjoying it including today’s lineup of a CAO Zocalo paired with a little El Paso love, Deadbeach’s Murder barrel aged imperial stout.
The Good Stuff:
The CAO Zocalo was originally released in 2018 as a very small-production limited release. Featured in a single 6 x 60 format only 3,500 boxes were released that year. This year, CAO announced they will be releasing two new sizes of the Zocalo, a 5 x 54 Robusto and a 6 x 50 Toro which will be released alongside the original 6 x 60 Gigante. Produced at the STG Estelí factory in Nicaragua, the Zocalo features a Mexican San Andres Marron wrapper, the first time the brand has even launched a blend that features a Mexican wrapper, over a Cameroon binder and fillers from Nicaragua. Each size comes packaged in boxes of 20 ranging between $7.99 and $8.99 a stick.
- Size: 5 x 52
- Wrapper: Mexican San Andres Marron
- Binder: Cameroon
- Filler: Nicaraguan
- Body: Medium/Full
- Strength: Medium
- Price: $7.99
- Pairing: Deadbeach Murder (Imperial Stout 12% ABV)
The CAO Zocalo starts with an incredibly dark brown, almost black wrapper. The color is consistent from foot to cap. The texture on the cigar’s wrapper is very toothy with a ton of oils coating it’s thick body as it leads up to the cigar’s round, double-wrapped cap. The wrapper is laid seamlessly over itself with only mild veins and tobacco leaf webbing. The cigar is polished off with a white, red, black and gold embossed band featuring the CAO logo and Zocalo crest printed across the front.
The wrapper on the CAO Zocalo gives off some nice brown sugar and spice aromas while the foot of the cigar carries much more natural and earthy aromas with a nice musk. The cap cut clean and easily using my Xikar double bladed cutter. The Cold draw features a good amount of woody, musky, and natural flavors.
The CAO Zocalo starts with a a minor little black pepper burst which fades after the first few puffs allowing the cigar to showcase some great deep oak flavors wrapped around musk, black cherry, dark chocolate and soft nutmeg with some great tartness left on my lips. There is also a great amount of floral notes that seem to pop in and out of the experience in the first third. The draw is perfect as each puff kicks out huge clouds of thick, white smoke which take quite a bit of time to dissipate. The burnline is razor thin with some slight waves, leaving behind a trail of tightly compacted white and light gray ash which held on for about an inch before giving way.
I am REALLY liking the deep, musk flavor that is leading the charge in this CAO Zocalo. The cherry and oak are still there, just as bold backed by the dark chocolate, nutmeg, and the floral flavors are still pretty present as well. The retrohale really brings the oak to the front of the taste. The burnline has completely cleaned itself up and is now dead even without any help from my torch as I close the second third out with almost no nicotine.
Into the final third of the CAO Zocalo and the flavors are still bangin’. The awesome musk and oak are still at the helm guiding the black cherry, dark chocolate and nutmeg through the storm. The flavors haven’t changed up too much and I am glad they didn’t as I really enjoy this flavor profile. It took me an hour and a half to take this down to the nub. I experienced no harshness, no extended heat, and only a very slight nicotine kick the entire experience.
I was pleasantly surprised the first time I smoked the CAO Zocalo and equally impressed every time since. This is a surprisingly complex, yet extremely balanced cigar with an amazing flavor profile that really appeased my palate. The burn was great, construction was flawless, and the cigar really delivered a whole lot for such a modest price tag. This cigar reminded me of the way I felt years back when I first experienced some of the older CAO blends such as the Brazilia and I really hope they can keep this trend going.
This week’s pairing is El Paso’s own Deadbeach brewing coming through with their Murder. A 12% ABV imperial stout aged for two years in Dickle Whiskey Barrels. The beer leads with notes of dark chocolate, cherry, malt, vanilla and lots of barrel with a very heavy mouthfeel before finishing with a ton more cherry, sweet vanilla, dark chocolate and a nice hint of whiskey. Very smooth and easy drinking. This is a great example of a great, simple barrel aged stout. The chocolate, cherry and malt matched up very well with the existing flavors in the CAO Zocalo while the vanilla and whiskey added an nice complexity to an already great cigar.