If you're headed to the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers trade show in New Orleans this weekend, General Cigar Co. will be giving a preview of its newest CAO cigar brands—CAO Pilón and CAO Steel Horse. Although each line is thematically distinct, both blends were developed by CAO blender and brand ambassador Rick Rodriguez.
"Rick Rodriguez and Agustin Garcia [tobacco operations manager at General Cigar] developed Pilón together. Rick developed Steel Horse on his own," Victoria McKee of General Cigar told Cigar Aficionado.
The CAO Pilón honors Cuban cigar tradition by featuring wrapper leaf that was fermented in a round pilón—a circular stack of carefully arranged tobacco leaf. The company says this particular technique dates back to the 19th century.
"We have experimented with pilón fermentation for several years." Rodriguez said in a press release. "It's a very labor intensive process and we took our time perfecting it. We thought it was the right time to create a line around this classic technique because it does such incredible things to the tobacco."
CAO Pilón is composed of a Cuban-seed Ecuadoran wrapper with filler and binder tobaccos from Nicaragua. The cigar will launch in three sizes: Churchill, at 7 inches by 48 ring gauge ($7.25); Robusto, 5 by 52 ($6.50); and Corona, 5 1/2 by 44 ($6.00).
The second new cigar line is called CAO Steel Horse, and it's a tribute to motorcycle fans in the same way that CAO Flathead was created with car enthusiasts in mind.
"We came out with Flathead in 2013 because the people I met at CAO events were always talking about cars when they weren't talking about cigars," Rodriguez said. "Turns out the bikers felt left out. Believe me, I've heard all about it. So we decided to come up with a cigar that would appeal to the guys and gals that are into motorcycles."
Steel Horse is draped in a proprietary wrapper leaf that General calls Connecticut Habano Grueso and contains a Brazilian Arapiraca binder, with fillers from Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Unlike the Flathead series, Steel Horse is not a box-pressed cigar, although it does carry the signature Flathead cap like the original line.
The cigar will ship in two sizes: Bullneck, at 6 1/2 inches by 66 ($9.99); and Apehanger, 5 1/2 by 58 ($8.99).
CAO Pilón and CAO Steel Horse are made in Nicaragua at the Scandinavian Tobacco Estelí factory. Both brands should begin reaching retailers in August.