There was a lot of hype coming out of the IPCPR show this year. One of the cigars that I kept hearing about was the CAO Flathead it looked really cool in all the pictures that I saw and the hype behind it said it was a pretty decent cigar. The idea behind this cigar is that it’s a nod to all the gear heads out there. Apparently in all the world travels that Ricky Rodriquez (master blender for CAO) the same topics come up at cigar events: cigars, cars, and girls. So this cigar is inspired by hot rods and pin up girls.
CAO always does a great job with their packaging. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to see what the box because I was sent samples of this CAO Flathead from General Cigar. I’m not complaining by any means, but I would like to see the box at some point because I’m sure it’s impressive packaging. The lineup for this cigar looks pretty impressive, here is the entire size list they are releasing (love the names):
V642 Piston (6.5” x 42), SRP per cigar is $6.75
V554 Camshaft (5.5” x 54), SPR per cigar is $7.25
V660 Carb (6” x 60), SRP per cigar is $8.25
V770 Big Block (7” x 70), SRP per cigar is $9.50
I received 5 samples of the V554 Camshaft and judging by these sizes, this is the perfect one for me. I’m not a huge fan of the bigger ring gauge stuff so this is perfect. They are calling the V770 a lancero, but it’s not the traditional lancero size of 7 1/2″ x 38, it’s quite a bit thicker and a little shorter. I’m not exactly sure why they are referring to it as a lancero, but it’s up to them. Well I think that’s enough of the backstory on this cigar lets get in the weeds and see what its all about!
I love a box pressed cigar, to me they are incredible easy to hold and to smoke. It sits really well on my lips and there is no rolling around in on the ash tray or on my whiskey barrel when I’m trying to take a picture. This CAO Flathead box press is incredible it’s very rigid and almost forms sharp points on each corner, kidding. Even the head of the cigar is flat, imagine that, the HEAD of the cigar is flat… Interesting ain’t it. This is a beautiful Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper that is damn near a maduro. In fact it smells like a maduro, looks like a maduro, I just wish I had confirmation that it was actually a maduro.
The first thing that probably pops out at you on this cigar is the band. Some of the pictures of the bands that I’ve seen have been a nice cherry apple red, particularly on the 660 size. On this particular 554 the band is black and silver. It had a nice retro font in the middle that spells out Flathead and right below it is the 554. You can see an outline on the band that is suggestive to being an engine, but there are other intersecting lines that distract from the main image. It’s like looking at one of those magic eye portraits. It’s a rather large band that takes up at least 1/4 of the cigar. I definitely like the packaging I think it’s an interesting idea and concept and they’ve pulled it off wonderfully.
Enough about how this CAO Flathead looks, how’s it going to function? It’s always hard to do a pinch test on a box pressed cigar. There’s just not much bounce back. I’ve found that most box presses don’t have a draw issue though so I’m not too worried about the lack of bounce back on the filler of this stick.
What I am worried about is the flat head. It’s definitely different and the cap on this cigar looks a little wonky. It’s harder to fit into my capped back cutter, but I squeezed it in there. When I nipped the cap, part of the wrapper came with it and began to unravel slightly. I made another quick snip and kept it from completely unravelling. Then I applied some saliva paste to the unraveled edge and it stayed put the rest of the smoke. Thanks for my quick thinking and leaping into action I saved this cigar from the trash can.
After this crisis was averted I began testing the dry draw on my CAO Flathead. The draw was a little stiff at first, but then it opened up. It’s like I had to break the air barrier that was in there. I think it’s time to toast the foot and get on with the smoking of this stick. What do you all think?
I always love when I get to refill my lighter with fluid. The first few flames that come out and super powerful and full of fire! To be completely corny and ride along side the theme of this cigar (not saying the theme of the cigar is corny, just me). The flame coming out of the cigar is like the fire that shoots out of the back of these hotrods. It reminds me of the hot rods in the movie Grease when they’re racing Grease Lightning. Yeah, I’ve seen that movie a few times, what’s it to ya?
Anyway, I take my newly powered lighter and toast the crap out of the foot of this CAO Flathead. I damn near burnt it to a crisp. Then I slowly started drawing some smoke down through the barrel and it began to open up and the draw was exceptional. See, I knew a box press would draw just fine.
The first third on this cigar burned and drew flawlessly. I just sat there and watched the smoke roll off of this thing. The ash never really held longer than 3/4″ of though. To me that’s always disappointing, but sometimes it can’t be helped. The second third on this CAO Flathead continued the perfect burn. I was trying to get the ash over an inch and I got really close, but I got the cigar burning too hot and of course the ash fell on my left and shattered all over my shorts. I figured I would try again so I can get a good picture of a decent ash. So during the 2nd & final third I held the ash as long as I could only for it to fall at nearly the same spot on my shorts. I guess I’m just not meant to hold long ashes. It’s not my calling. Luckily despite the average length ashes this cigar burned perfectly all the way through. The line never got wavy, it wasn’t razor sharp, but it never got uneven either. So I’ll call that a win!
As I’m sure you’re all wanting to know. What does this CAO Flathead taste like? I mean seriously, what does a cigar that’s positioned as a muscle engine cigar taste like? I’m hoping it’s not motor oil or gasoline. That wouldn’t make me want to buy it again I’ll tell you that right now.
During the pre light I picked up quite a bit of cocoa and sweetness on the foot. There were hints of molasses and earth as well, but the main note was sweet. That’s why I instantly thought it was a maduro because the aroma was so similar.
The first third brought out some interesting flavors, it began with that sweetness that I picked up on the foot, then it finished with a little tinge of spice. The aroma brought out some interesting earthy flavors as well. Overall I would say this 1st third was dominated by a sweeter note compared to everything else.
On the second third the spice began to pick up. Especially in the retrohale I was able to pick up a good dose of spice and some nutty notes. There’s also a savory note that is beginning to build on the backend. The sweetness is starting to back down and give way to very well balanced cigar. I would say right now it’s medium in body.
The final third of this CAO Flathead finally brought out that traditional Nicaraguan flavor I was looking for. The coffee notes with some spice followed by earth. The taste of coffee on the retrohale was unmistakeable for me. I picked it up right away and felt at home then. It really rounded out the entire flavor profile for this cigar. It was nice and complex yet balanced. I’ll have to be honest I really enjoyed this cigar.
Would I Buy It Again?
Is It an Every Day Smoke?
Possibly, this is the smallest out the bunch and it still took me over an hour and a half to smoke it. So I’m not sure I could do that everyday.
Would I Buy a Box?
I think it’s box worthy for sure. Especially if the packaging is as awesome as everyone says it is.
I’m a big fan of this cigar. Me and CAO have a love hate relationship going on. I wasn’t a fan of the OSA Sol or the Hurricane, but I loved the the Concert. So it’s like every other release from them I really enjoy. I think this is another hit for them. This CAO Flathead has got some great things going on with it in terms of flavor profile. The packaging is great, the idea is great and the cigar is great. I’d say they have a hit on their hands.