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This week we received our first batch of CAO’s new Flathead, a medium-full bodied blend of Nicaraguan tobaccos and Connecticut Broadleaf wrappers, box-pressed and hand-shaped at the head to feature a flat top, hence the name. Inspired by the power and aesthetic of the muscle cars of the 1950s and ’60s, these cigars come in boxes designed to look like an old-school muscle car engine and each box comes with a collectible pin-up girl flysheet, the kind you might have seen hanging in your uncle’s garage back in the day. For today’s review I pulled out a sample of the Camshaft (51/2×54) vitola.
The cigar’s leathery Broadleaf wrap was uniformly dark with plenty of tooth and a slick oily sheen. Construction was near flawless with an especially sharp box-press. The interestingly-styled head looked like it was designed for a punch cut, so punch I did, and I was met with a woody and sweet pre-light taste.
After an easy light the Flathead immediately began to pour out loads of smoke with a peppery and nutty flavor. This was a “heavy smoker” indeed, as thick streams of smoke continued to leak from the foot of the cigar well after each draw. As I puffed on the crisp black pepper became slightly more intense and I began to pick up smoky wood as a “base” flavor, along with notes of cocoa, light raisin, and hints of leather.
In the second 3rd the parade of complimentary dark flavors continued, and eventually merged into one nice taste as the stick remained straight-burning with a solid stark-white ash up front. Around the 2-inch mark a wave of cream swept over the profile, making it waaay smooth and canceling out a good bit of the pepper. At this point I began to detect an added element of caramel sweetness.
Going into the last third a quick retrohale assured me that the pepper had made a serious comeback, and the leather taste was now more pronounced than the wood. Usually I find the leather taste unappealing, but when offset by the syrupy sweetness in this portion I thought it worked very well. I ended up taking the Flathead down to about an inch and enjoying every puff.
The guys over at CAO did a great job coming up with an original concept and identity for the Flathead, but really, they didn’t need to. This was a fantastic smoke that would easily stand out in today’s marketplace, even with a much simpler branding. The Camshaft had awesome and interesting full flavor and one of the cleanest burns I’d seen in a while, the unique “Flathead” concept and cool packaging are just the icing on the metaphorical cake. In my humble opinion, this release trumps both the OSA SOL and Concert in terms of overall appeal, and I would smoke it again in a heartbeat. The CAO Flathead gets an easy A grade and my full recommendation. Do yourself a favor and take the Flathead out for a spin, these are the real deal.