Back in 2013, CAO released the Flathead cigar line at the IPCPR show in Las Vegas. Created by Rick Rodriguez and Ed McKenna, the line was created as a throwback to classic America, where pin-up girls and hot rods roamed the streets. Drawing inspiration from the 1930’s and ’40s, the cigars are showcased in boxes replicated after the flathead engines of the time. Each vitola is also named after the new improvements made to the hot rods back in the day: V642 Piston, V554 Camshaft, V660 Carb, V770 Big Block, and V450 Spark Plug. The ‘V’ is no doubt for shape of the engine block, followed by the length of the cigar, followed by ring gauge.
The nods to a more classic era don’t stop there, however, with each box having a removable ‘flathead engine’ cover to mount on the wall, as well as collectable pin-up girl flysheets in each box. The overall presentation is nice, but looks only go so far… The tobacco used for the Flathead is a surprisingly complex blend, boasting a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, a Connecticut Habano binder, and a combination of Nicaraguan Ligero and Dominican Piloto Cubano filler tobaccos.
Now, that may be some fancy engine work, but how does this hot rod drive?
CAO Flathead V660 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Connecticut Habano
- Filler: Nicaraguan Ligero | Dominican Piloto Cubano
- Factory: STG Estelí (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ × 60 “V660 Carb” Gordo
- Price: $8.50
I must be honest, I wasn’t too excited about reviewing the Flathead V660. For one, I’m not a fan of big ring gauge cigars. I won’t even smoke a 54 Toro if I can help it, so I definitely didn’t expect much from this 6 inch by 60 box-pressed monster. As stated, all of the Flatheads come box-pressed, and superbly done at that, with extremely fine edges. Surprisingly, the bands are actually my favorite part of the Flathead’s appearance.
The bands are rather simplistic (that’s probably why I like them), yet they deliver the retro-fitted hot rod feel that CAO was going for. Along with that, I really like how each vitola gets their own color, from the smallest V450 Spark Plug in bright yellow, to the outrageous V770 Big Block in bright red. I admire this small addition by CAO, veering from the norm of slapping the same band on every vitola. It’s a small thing, but sometimes those things make the biggest difference.
Alright, enough about the looks. The CAO Flathead V660 is a beast of a cigar, and I am anticipating a long smoking experience. First off, the Flathead actually does cut very clean. This is something I was surprised by when I reviewed the Neanderthal, but again the flat cap proves to be successful. Unlike the Neanderthal, however, a good amount of tobacco brushings fall from the cut, but there are little concerns in terms of damaging the cigar.
The cold draw feels a tad tight, emitting a musty earth, as well as some grassy undertones. The first light starts off a bit powerful, with a burst of smoke and flavor, and there is definitely strength to be detected early on. The profile starts off a bit muffled, making it hard to really nail down the flavors. Overall, I tasted spice, cedar, a little bit of cream, and a complicated earth and floral arrangement.
After the cigar has time to heat up, the flavors become a little more pronounced, keyword “little”. The spices are met with a more developed pepper, along with some more cedar, cream, and a little sweetness developing on the finish, taking the place of the earth. On the retro-hale, anise and pepper are expectedly present, representing that Habano binder nicely; although met with a somewhat harsh earthiness as well. During the first third, I began to detect more and more strength in the cigar. It never got too much to handle, as it’s important to note these bigger vitolas are often toned down a bit in the strength department.
For a maduro, the V660 is rather plain. To be fair, it is quite difficult for an average maduro to really stand out—the wrapper just doesn’t offer a whole lot of complexity (in my opinion). The usual pepper, cream, and sweetness makes up the vast majority. The V660, however, does a fine job standing out from the crowd. As the smoke develops, the combination of tobaccos really shines through, making this more complex than the first third led me to believe. The spicy cedar notes have almost completely fallen off the track, with espresso and sugarcane taking up its place. The creamy flavors and texture continues to develop, riding alongside the other flavors nicely.
From the halfway point on, the Flathead V660’s “carburetor” really roars to life. The flavors are better blended, the smoke output also increases, and the draw begins to loosen up a bit. Aside from the first third, CAO’s construction seems to be the only thing noticeably lacking in this cigar. The draw is okay at best, and the ash is mediocre. The only thing that really stands out here is the box press, which is without question a beautifully rolled and pressed cigar.
Would I smoke this again?
No, although there is nothing completely wrong with this cigar, it simply isn’t for me. I would be hard-pressed to smoke another 60 ring gauge anytime soon. I would love to try the other vitolas however, especially the Sparkplug. Fan of “Sixties”? I recommend 1 – 3 to try.
- 2+ hour smoke time
- Fun appearance + box set up
- Decent complexity in second half
- First third feels confused
- Weak draw
- Strength sometimes gets ahead of the body