What could go better with a dazzling hot rod or custom v-twin chopper than a quality premium cigar? That is where the inspiration for the CAO Flathead line originated. Specially shaped with a striking flat top at the cigar’s head, the Flathead V19 features a gritty Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and a blend that’s heavy on Nicaraguan leaf. The Flathead line was originally released in 2013, created as a throwback to classic American muscle, where pin-up girls and hot rods roamed the streets.
The V19 is the next generation of hot rod. Introduced at the 2019 IPCPR trade show in Las Vegas, CAO wanted to deliver an amped-up version of the original line. Rick Rodriquez, master blender and ambassador for CAO, mentioned in a press release, “For V19, we wanted deep flavor and power, the kind of cigar that demands your attention, just like a classic car or motorcycle does. This is the cigar for the CAO smoker who likes the boldest blends in our line.”
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Flathead Camshaft V19 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf (USA)
- Binder: Connecticut Habano (USA)
- Filler: Dominican Republic | Nicaragua
- Factory: STG Danlí (Honduras)
- Production: Limited Edition (2,350 boxes of 20 cigars)
- Vitola: 5½″ × 50 “Camshaft” (Robusto)
- Price: $11.99 (MSRP)
CAO went all out on this one, creating a box-pressed beauty using a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper, a Connecticut Habano binder, and a selection of independently-grown Nicaraguan (Estelí, Jalapa, and Condega) and Dominican (Piloto Cubano) fillers. The cigar began shipping to retailers in August of 2019 in two formats:
- Camshaft V19: 5½” x 50 | $11.99 (single) | $239.80 (box of 20)
- Carb V19: 6″ x 60 | $12.99 (single) | $259.80 (box of 20)
When first seeing the display, it makes one wonder if you are getting a box of cigars or a new bolt-on accessory for your custom! Packed in an attractive, glossed black box (complete with a raised winged piston logo), the theme of these cigars is readily apparent. Opening the box, we are presented with an attractive graphic reminiscent of the door panels on a ’57 Chevy, as well as 20 attractive box-pressed robustos in individual cello wrappers. The band on the cigar matches the logo on the box and makes for a striking visual presentation.
The cigar has the distinctive flat cap that is a signature of the line, leading to a firm box-press that actually gives the rounded corners a very square-appearing edge. The wrapper is a deep chocolate brown with quite a bit of tooth and an oily sheen. The seams are fairly visible and there are a few small veins running throughout the body of the cigar. The construction is firm from foot to cap, with just the slightest amount of give.
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The aroma from the foot has a sweet damp earth characteristic and a little bit of pepper. The pre-light draw, which was just a little on the open side, enhances the sweetness with sugarcane, along with the earth, white pepper, and an undertone of cedar.
With the first few puffs of the cigar it is apparent that this is going to be bold. Heavy chocolate notes, with just the slightest amount of barnyard, envelope the palate, with a blast of pepper really waking things up on the retrohale—it is a solid combination. Getting about an inch and a half in, chocolate and sugarcane are taking over, with a creamy nougat undertone that is making the cigar almost seem dessert-like. The strength at this point is in the medium range, with the body of the cigar firmly hitting medium-plus. The burn has been great, with a mottled gray ash that is tightly packed. The draw has been fairly good, though is just a tick too loose, causing the cigar to burn a little fast. It is not heating up significantly, however, which is allowing the flavors to stay in check.
Not too much further into the cigar, the strength takes a rather abrupt jump up to medium-plus. The chocolate is still predominant, though the sweetness and creaminess of the nougat has faded. Additionally, there is a slight leatheriness that sits on the back of the tongue now. The pepper on the retrohale has amped up to an almost cayenne-like spiciness, along with strong espresso that is almost eye watering, but good.
Coming to the end, the strength notches up just a little more, keeping the cigar in the medium-plus range, though not quite getting into full territory. It finishes with a mix of milk chocolate, white pepper, and coffee, with the spiciness of the cayenne pepper and espresso still on the retrohale. The burn has been good all the way though, with just a slight waviness to the burn line and no maintenance needed. The ash seemed to want to hang on for dear life from start to finish and was assisted in falling so not to cause a mess.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
It’s not an emphatic yes but it’s a yes nonetheless. I have been a fan of the original Flathead series since its release. The creamy, earthy profile of the original is present in this new blend, and fans of the original will be pleasantly surprised with the amped-up character.
- The line includes motorcycle-themed blends as well (CAO Flathead Steel Horse).
- CAO claims to have used an “abbreviated fermentation” to lock in the tobaccos’ native flavors, as well as a longer aging process to refine them.
- Flavor: Medium-plus
- Strength: Medium-plus
- Body: Medium-plus
- Milk chocolate
- White pepper
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Highland Scotch | Lager | Root beer | Black coffee
- Purchase Recommendation: 5-pack
- Attractive packaging—a conversation piece
- Amped up just enough over the original blend with no overly drastic changes
- Burn required no maintenance throughout the smoking experience
- The flat cap makes a punch pretty much the only foolproof cutting option
- It's a little pricey considering the low-complexity profile delivered
- The open draw shortens the smoking time