FrontRunners: Select Smoke

The new CAO Gold Maduro cigar

originated as part of CAO’s Concept Series, a group of experimental blends

available only to those who visited the company’s Nashville, Tenn.,

headquarters. Guests’ enthusiastic response to the cigar prompted CAO to market

it. The filler and binder tobaccos are the same robust, subtly spicy Nicaraguan

leaves the company uses in its natural-wrapper Gold cigar, but the Gold Maduro

augments these with a dark Brazilian maduro wrapper that has a smooth, chocolaty

taste. This cigar practically demands a substantial diameter, which helps tame

the strong flavor typical of a maduro. And besides, it seems to us that a big

taste and a big cigar go hand in hand. ($4.80–$6.50) www­.caocigars.com

CAO points to the art movement spearheaded by Pablo Picasso and

Georges Braque as inspiration for the new CAO Cubist ashtray, but we think its infinite-loop symmetry

calls to mind the works of the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher. Regardless, the

Cubist surely will inspire both pleasurable smoking and interesting

conversation. The six-pound tray accommodates four cigars. ($129)

www­.caocigars.com

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