Never thought i would see the day: a figurado torp that would lay the smack-down on the famed Cuban Montecristo #2, widely acclaimed as the King of the Hill for this particular vitola. The best thing about this cigar is that i had so little expectations for it (i even thought it might turn out to be a bit of a donkey, frankly), but as i laid it to rest last night, i knew that CAO has done the non-Cuban smoking world a favour by creating this absolute beauty.

(Image lost) Rated “91” by Cigar Aficionado

The CAO (Cano A. Ozgeners) Brazilia Samba has a particularly corny name; sounds almost cheap. The band looks kinda silly too as it tries to mimic the colours of the Brazilian flag — but its tobacco leaf is almost sure to pack one helluva punch: oily, dark rosado wrapper (almost maduro, though not quite) from Brazil with a Nicaraguan filler and binder. Sometimes the tale of the tape tells the story, and this is so with the Samba, an ample 6.5 incher with a generous 54 ring gauge.

(Image lost) Flawless dark rosado wrapper

The visual test could hardly be better: a veinless wrapper, oily and smooth to the touch, this cigar was immaculately constructed — a taut cap, unwrinkled in any way; something pretty tough to do according to most rollers’ accounts, and certainly a feature that the Montecristo #2 or even the wonderful CAO Black Gothic can’t seem to get right all the time. I’ve discovered that a figurado rolled properly, with a well set cap, doesn’t unroll easily even when moistened with my saliva. Not all torps, even premium ones, i’ve had can claim to have this down pat.

(Image lost) Superb construction – Holds its ash incredibly well

The cigar itself feels a bit firmer than i would like; a little bit spongy but it doesn’t have too much spring and this has, in the past, indicated that it will offer a very firm draw. Scent wise, this cigar performs admirably: a nice toasted cedar fragrance with very strong woody hints.

(Image lost) Firm and steady ash

It didn’t take much to light, the tobacco caught very quickly and it burned evenly from the get go. No touch up required. Good. A firm draw, just a tad more than i like, but certainly within acceptable parameters, delivered volumes and volumes of thick aromatic smoke. Initial tasting was outstanding! Almost immediately, i knew i had a winner on my hands — very woody, full flavours came in and seized control of my taste buds. Creamy and silky smooth with touches of leather and cocoa, this is one tasty cigar! My previous limited experience with Brazilian wrappers told me to expect a spicy note or two at some point, and i was not disappointed when it came just about a third through — very subtle peppery sensations began to build which climaxed with a burst of tingly thrills on my lips as it approached the last third. Excellent!

(Image lost) Good to the stub!

This cigar is not for the uninitated or for those who prefer a mellower smoking experience — it packs quite a punch which is delivered relatively early on. I noticed a substantial nicotine high coming on even at about half-way; i found it delightful. Subtler than the knock out blows landed by the insane strength of the Opus X “XXX” (aka Power Ranger) i had while in the US, this cigar is still very formidable. Best taken after a very hefty meal.

(Image lost) Check out what’s left – just two pieces of long ash for the entire cigar!

Verdict: Oh gosh. My books are re-written. A new King is in town, as far as figurado torpedoes are concerned. But to be fair, the Montecristo #2 is a different type of cigar that tends to be a touch more subtle in its approach; it never threatens to overwhelm you. The CAO Brazilia Samba packs a terrific punch in flavour and strength, without going berserks on you. As long as you’re a seasoned aficionado, you’ll stay in control as it offers a fine balance towards the very end. My Cigar Blog’s Highest Possible Recommendation.