CAO introduced its newest blend a few weeks ago, a square pressed cigar inspired by the flathead engine design made famous by Ford in the 40s and 50s. As I’ve been told by greasy guys in coveralls who know way more about this stuff than I do, the flathead engine design is not exclusive to Ford, or even to cars, but it seems likely that the guys at CAO were thinking of Ford’s flathead V8 and not lawn mowers when they were dreaming up their newest line.
The team at CAO has been busy in the last few years, releasing OSA Sol and the CAO Concert, both blends that I’ve enjoyed a lot. The Flathead line is strikingly different in appearance. The wrapper is a very dark and well matured Connecticut Broadleaf, and the head of the cigar is, to no one’s surprise, flat. But it’s not just flat in the Cuban style, it’s as flat as the foot, so that the head has no shoulders to speak of. It looks like the head of the cigar was pressed when the wrapper was still wet. I wondered at first if this might present clipping problems, but I’ve honestly had bigger problems with a socket wrench. (My mechanical skills leave a lot to be desired.)
Under the hood is an Habano Connecticut binder, beneath which roars an engine powered by Nicaraguan ligero. Four sizes are in production:
- V642 Piston (6.5” x 42)
- V554 Camshaft (5.5” x 54)
- V660 Carb (6” x 60)
- V770 Big Block (7” x 70)
The broadleaf wrapper is uniformly dark — almost black — and oily. A simple guillotine cut worked surprisingly well for me, but a punch cut would be the most intelligent way to go. The Flathead is square pressed, which can sometimes lead to burn problems, but the cigar burns evenly for the most part. The draw is excellent, and the burn is slow.
This cigar pumps out an enormous volume of smoke, which might be a consideration if you’re smoking indoors. It’s hard enough to be discreet with a cigar, but you won’t get away with this one in the men’s room. (Or the ladies’ room. Sorry, ladies.)
Overall construction: Excellent
The Flathead Camshaft opens with a raisiny flavor. It’s sweet and smooth, but the smoke is heavy. It reminds me a little of the St. Luis Rey Serie G Maduro — the room smell is quite earthy in comparison to the flavors on the palate. I like this aspect of the cigar a lot. Gradually the fruity flavor darkens — more prunes than raisins — and it picks up a piney overtone. The strength of the cigar is solidly medium, despite the heaviness of the smoke texture.
The middle section retains the sweetness of its opening act but adds a leathery, meaty quality. A touch of earthiness contributes a charcoal-like quality. It’s like sitting next door to a barbecue party. Pretty soon you’re breaking open those t-bones you were saving for Sunday.
The last section is a little spicier on the tongue, but more chocolatey on the nose. The coffee and chocolate flavors gradually die down and the cigar fades into char.
CAO’s new Flathead blend is a full-bodied, medium-strength cigar with a sweet and potent aroma. The Camshaft vitola, an oversized robusto, burns slowly and develops enough complexity that it kept my interest for just over an hour. In the final analysis I find it to be just a little too sweet for my palate, but I love the room smell it leaves behind. (As long as the room is my garage and not my living room.)
It’s a nicely balanced cigar, and certainly one to try for fans of Connecticut broadleaf maduro.
Final Score: 87