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FrontRunners: Select Smoke

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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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