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Staff Reviews

CAO Flathead V554 Camshaft Staff Review

Zack D. D's picture

Zack D.

CAO Flathead debuted back in 2013. Since then, the line has racked up numerous 90+ ratings in Cigar Aficionado. The crowning achievement for CAO Flathead came in January of 2016 when it was revealed as the ‘#3 Cigar of the Year.’

Handcrafted in Esteli, Nicaragua, CAO Flathead includes a wide array of tobaccos. The oily Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper envelops a Connecticut-grown Habano binder and long-filler tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The cigar features a sharp box-press shape and, as the name suggests, a flat head. The cap of the cigar is not rounded like the majority of the cigars you’ll encounter. The flat cap makes it a bit more difficult to cut with a straight cutter.

The pre-light aroma was slightly floral with an underlying spice while the cold draw revealed hints of birch beer and raisins. Upon lighting it up, notes of hay, earth and black pepper layer my palate. As the Flathead starts to warm up, a raison-like sweetness and hints of leather come into focus.

The midsection of CAO Flathead takes a huge turn flavor-wise. The profile becomes much sweeter and the spicy, peppery notes fade out. By the halfway mark, the pepper is gone and notes of coffee and leather flavors become more prominent.

As I approached the final third of CAO Flathead, notes of earth and wood completely take over. The sweet raisin-like taste recedes and is only noticeable through the retrohale. Because the peppery notes fade on the finish, the last bit of the cigar is oddly smooth and creamy.

I expected a bit more out of the CAO Flathead, especially considering it was in Cigar Aficionado’s ‘Top 5 Cigars of the Year.’ However, the cigar’s performance left a lot to be desired. The burn line looked like a mountain range and required multiple touch-ups to keep the filler tobaccos evenly lit. On the bright side, the draw was flawless. Although this cigar does not seem strong right off the bat, the power slowly crept up towards the end. I would say that its strength topped off at an 8 out of 10. Slide a CAO into your rotation when you feel like trying out a blocky box-pressed shape with nice mix of sweet and zesty tasting notes.


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