Cigar Review- CAO Flathead Camshaft 554

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Filler: Nicaraguan
Size: 5.5 x 54 “Camshaft- Box Pressed”
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $4.60 at $7.25 everywhere else.


At the 2013 IPCPR Trade Show, CAO Cigars debuted a new line of cigars called the CAO Flathead. CAO is reaching out to the New Breed cigar lovers with creative blending and very creative modes. And lots of PR. This stick is CAO’s first box pressed line.

The box has a muscle car/hot rod look to it and inside, they placed a 1940’s-1950’s poster of a pin up girl. Very retro.
CAO Flathead Box

CAO Flathead Insert

This is a limited run cigar at the moment. Only 6000-7000 boxes made for the total group of sizes. Each box contains 24 cigars. That’s around 300 boxes for each size.

The cigar comes in four sizes:
V642 Piston- 6.5 x 42 ($6.75)
V554 Camshaft: 5.5 x 54 ($7.25)
V660 Carb: 6 x 60 ($8.25)
V770 Big Block: 7 x 70 ($9.50)

For CAO’s first box press release, I must say that the presentation is impeccable. The wrapper is the color of a dark Kona coffee bean. Seams are not invisible but they are tight. Lots of small veins are close to invisible through the wrapper’s color. I think it is a single cap and based on price, I would think so. Also, if it were triple cap, they would let us know. The cigar is so shiny from oil that it could have been dunked in a car repair oil receptacle. The shiny aluminum-type cigar band is stunning. Pure muscle.

I clip the cap and find aromas of leather, cocoa, hay, spice and cinnamon.

While clipping the cap with my backstop cutter, the whole wrapper begins to unravel. I quickly grab my cigar glue and solve the problem. I use Kingpin cigar glue rather than El Ligador because Kingpin reacts faster. It is more like Krazy Glue. I don’t have to wait half an hour. I can move on within minutes.
Time to light up.

The first puffs are full of red pepper and cocoa. A natural tobacco sweetness is present.

Creaminess arrives Johnny on the Spot. I am getting the best of three worlds here due to the exotic nature of the leaf stats. The cigar quickly becomes very flavorful.

This is a big mama jamma. And normally, CAO cigars take months in your humidor before they can be smoked and appreciated for the blender’s intent.

I got this stick from a good buddy, Jason Harding, at He sent me several samples of sticks that made their debut at the trade show. I checked around and they have the cheapest prices going. Although, at the moment, they are only selling boxes. No 5 packs or singles. A box of these cigars is $114. I saw them on one of the largest online stores for $153. That’s a big savings.

The cocoa rises along with the creaminess. The spiciness is perfect. Strong enough for some oomph but not so strong as to burn your tongue and make you weep. The burn line starts out wavy and I had to make an adjustment. (I used to hear my Mafioso family members say that at holiday dinners back when I was a kid in the 1950’s..”We need ta’ make a adjustment!”).

As solid and tight the cigar is, the draw is perfect. I would love to try the Lancero version (The Piston). I bet that is a real flavor bomb.
And this bothers me….How do you smoke a 70 ring gauge? Do you need mouth spreaders that dentists have? I mean, really. I have trouble with a 58 or 60. Who smokes a 70 ring other than Tony Soprano? I know. I’m a wuss.

This is a very slow burning stick. I have over 10 minutes invested and I haven’t passed the half inch mark.
As I leave the first third, flavors are bolder. Creaminess, spice, cocoa, sweetness, and leather are pumping away. The draw gets even better as smoke clouds my vision.

The cigar does not have a big array of flavor. But I am sure that in a month or two, it will be a better cigar. I taste some great potential. The size has a lot to do with the flavor profile. Go small and get a very intense flavor bomb.

But I am enjoying the cigar because the flavors are so well defined. Big flavors. Big Sky.

I grab a Diet Coke because of the intensity of the cocoa and creaminess. It takes me back to my childhood when my dad made NY egg creams. Basically, real soda water, chocolate syrup, and milk. Sort of a bastardized chocolate soda. And the Coke helps mimic that flavor.

I am at the halfway mark after 50 minutes. Clearly, you get your money’s worth with this cigar.

Flavors have not changed. The only change is the intensity gets even bolder. It is not a very complex cigar. But within the confines of the five flavors, it is a flavor bomb.

I keep taking breaks from writing as this cigar is taking its time. And it’s either taking breaks or rambling on about my botched colonoscopy. And you don’t want that.

Complex or not, this is a delicious stick. This is worth your effort and money. Should I decide to buy a box, they will be de-celloed and put in my humidor for two months. I think that would create magic. The price point at BCP is ridiculously cheap compared to other sellers. Yes, Jason at BCP gave me the cigars, but check around…see if I’m lying.

My wife is leaving for Germany next week. She will be gone for most of September. She is going to her home town of Fulda, south of Frankfurt. She came to America when she was 27. She was a flight attendant with Lufthansa. And she hasn’t gone home in a decade.
So this means I can buy cigars we can’t afford and I won’t be yelled at until October. I can handle that.

I start the last third. Flavors are just wonderful. CAO really hit the nail, with a ball peen hammer, with this blend. There are a lot of Nicaraguan puros out there with loads of cocoa in them. And they all differ in some respect. I stopped buying flavored cigars like DE Java a long, long time ago. The chocolate and sweetness was too cloying. This particular stick has the cocoa right on the money. It isn’t artificial. How and why a stick can taste like cocoa is beyond me realm of intelligence and knowledge. But I will take a chocolate flavored cigar like the CAO Flathead over the DE blends any day.

I should mention that body has been classic medium from the start to the last third. Hey Wally Guse! This is a perfect cigar for you. It’s not strong and has the flavors you like. Wally is a dear friend who is also a musician like me. He even played guitar with the Mamas & Papas. Now he lives in Arizona and plays coffee houses as a single. Kudos Wally for doing what you must. I cannot give up the music either and play with several blues bands in Milwaukee. I won’t play in a classic rock band again because if I have to play “Born on the Bayou” one more time, I will hang myself.
Back to the cigar. Strength begins to build. Not much nicotine, thankfully. But I feel a bit of it in my blurred vision. I never got used to nicotine as I have never smoked a single cigarette in my life.

This is an excellent cigar. I hope CAO decides to take it off the endangered species list and make more than 7000. The price is right on target. And it is one of the better CAO sticks I’ve smoked.

The stick finishes out with a blasting cap flavor profile. The cocoa and creaminess just ooze from the cigar. It has been very chewy and has a very long finish. The balance is perfect. And time will make it a much better cigar.

Again, many thanks to Jason Harding at for the samples.


3 replies

  1. Everything about this cigar sounds fantastic with the exception of the cap. Not quite sure why one would make a cigar that you have to invest in hardware or glue to smoke…Perhaps a punch or v cut would be best. I get the marketing gimmick but it’s somewhat annoying to me.

  2. The GREAT PR machine is always looking for a gimmick. It seems that every cigar manufacturer is doing it. Some more than others.
    The last CAO gimmick was the Concert line. A box that looks like an amp?
    I can handle paying less than $5 for this size, but upwards of $10? I don’t think so.
    Thanks for the comment, Tim.

  3. Along with giving price points, I also appreciate your tips for aging the sticks reviewed. It’s dawning on me that there are techniques we can employ to get the maximum out of a cigar’s potential. A $5 stick can taste like a $3 today, but smoke like an $8 champ with a few months of repose in the humi. Again, thanks for helping the lay smoker get the most bang for his/her buck.