Review: CAO Flathead

CAO Flathead
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf maduro
Binder: Habano Connecticut
Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero and Piloto Cubana Ligero
Sizes: Lancero, Robusto, Toro, Double Toro
Retail: about $7
Size for review: Robusto

I totally forgot my Bugatti lighter has a built in punch. Should have used it on the beautiful CAO Flathead

I totally forgot my Bugatti lighter has a built in punch. Should have used it on the beautiful CAO Flathead


I’ve been interested in the CAO Flathead since I learned about it from this year’s IPCPR coverage. The other day, I found myself at The Stash down in Milwaukie, OR. There, still wrapped up in cello, was a box of CAO Flatheads, brand new into the shop as it’s just been hitting the market. Cars and cigars. It’s hard to go wrong. If you’re not familiar the CAO Flathead refers to the Flathead Ford V8 of the 30s, 40s and early 1950s. Continuing with the Flathead V8 theme, all four sizes have a corresponding reference to engine parts. The 6.5×42 Lancero is called the Piston, 5.5×42 Robusto “Camshaft”, 6×60 Toro “Carb” and a 7×70 Double Toro called the “Big Block.” (The Flathead V8 never had a “big block”)
The CAO has a good clean burn and some great flavor to go along with it.

The CAO has a good clean burn and some great flavor to go along with it.


The CAO Flathead is a beautiful looking cigar. It features a dark maduro Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper under a simple black and silver (or red and silver, depending on size) band. The box press is smooth, and flattens out any small veins that I saw present. The seams of the wrapper were also slightly visible, but quite smooth. The wrapper is almost oily, and kind of sticky. It has a slightly barnyard/outdoor scent that I find appealing.
This should have been the head, but, here's what it looks like after it's cut

This should have been the head, but, here’s what it looks like after its cut…


Unique to the CAO Flathead cigars is the head of the cigar. All four sizes of the Flathead are box pressed, but the head of the cigars is also pressed. I failed to get an appropriate photo of the head, but it is about as flat as the foot. When I finally getting to firing this cigar up, I was a long ways from my cigar punches, so I was left with cutting the cap. This does lead to unraveling, so, if you’re going to smoke a CAO Flathead, by all means use a punch cutter.
The CAO Flathead has a very satifying flavor. The flavor increases and even gets a bit savory as it burns down.

The CAO Flathead has a very satisfying flavor. The flavor increases and even gets a bit savory as it burns down.


While I found the dry draw to be almost flavorless, when toasting up the foot and taking the first puffs from the CAO Flathead I was greeted with a good hit of black pepper spice along with a hint of cocoa nib. The cocoa nib is bitter, but not off-putting. There is a bit of coffee and nut to go with it. The overall flavor, though, is black pepper. After the initial puffs, the black pepper remains as the backbone flavor. Through the first third, however, there are also good chocolate flavors that come and go, along with hints of coffee. The ash is nice and white, holds firm, and finally gave way at the end of the first third.
Check out that ash.

Check out that ash.


There is not a whole lot of changes to the flavor of this cigar. It starts off with some pepper, and that pepper sticks around. Sometimes it is peppery and sweet (chocolate), sometimes it is peppery and bitter (coffee) and other times, especially after the halfway mark, it is peppery and savory (nut/earth). If left along, the pepper spice got quite warm in my mouth, but a simple sip of any beverage help quell any heat. I found cigar to get more and more smokey as it went, which I found quite nice. The cigar, while starting off great, becomes more and more satisfying as the time goes by.
I got the band off just before it started burning.

I got the band off just before it started burning.


There were a couple small, very small, downers with my CAO Flathead. For start, the band aheaseive is pretty tough. I had a hard time getting the band loose from the cigar so I could keep on smoking it. I managed to get the band free of the cigar and slide it off just before the band started burning. Slightly towards the end, I also developed a split wrapper. It was only a minor inconvenience though, and didn’t affect the flavor or burn at all.
The only real flaw that came on--a cracked wrapper just before finishing

The only real flaw that came on–a cracked wrapper just before finishing


In the end, this is a cigar that was worth getting excited over. It has solid flavor from start to finish. The burn is nice, and if you use a punch, there is nothing wrong with the construction. I found the CAO Flathead to be medium-full flavored and medium strenth cigar that made a great close to the night. If you’re in the Portland area, head down to The Stash, and pick up a couple!
how about that?

how about that?

About the author

Isaac Miller is a stay at home dad, kayak fisherman and a cigar fiend.