CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger | Cigar Review

Wrapper: Proprietary Connecticut Habano Grueso (According to Cigar Aficionado)
Binder: Brazilian Arapiraca
Filler: Dominican, Honduran, Nicaraguan
Size: 5.5 x 58 “Gordo-Apehanger”
Body: Full
Price: $8.99 MSRP ($5.94 at Famous Smoke Shop by the box)





Remember, Famous is a sponsor and there is a 15% discount promo code (KATMAN) on all purchases over $75.00. Brings the Apehanger down to $5.05 per stick box price. The promo code is at the bottom of the reviews in the Sponsor Section.

Today we take a look at the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger.
Thanks to Cory Grover at Famous Smoke Shop for the samples.
This cigar has a lot of reviews that all occurred shortly after the cigar was released. All of the reviews give the cigar a less than stunning review.
Do you see the size of both cigars? And you realize it is CAO who manufactured it? The kings of Old School blending techniques: Translated as meaning all blends need months of humidor time.


I guarantee not one reviewer gave the cigar more than a few weeks of humidor time.

Factory: Scandinavian Tobacco Estelí.
Release Date: August 2015.
Regular Production.
Debuted at the 2015 IPCPR trade show.
“Grueso” translates to “Thick.”

You can land an F-22 Raptor on the cap. It has the signature flat cap like the original line.


This cigar is the epitome of the word “rustic.” It looks like it is slap dashed together with bailing wire. Very lumpy and bumpy. The wrapper is a very mottled, oily dark coffee bean color.
But seams are invisible! The veins run over this thing like a road map. There are indentations here and there. But the cigar is perfectly packed. Solid with the proper give when squeezed.
It is difficult to tell but it looks like a double cap.

It is clever what they do with the two sizes in terms of cigar bands. The giant Bullneck has a side view of a bike. While the smaller Apehanger has the bike coming towards you.
And as a last note about the cigar bands, well..I think they are simple but classy. Chic but not silly or overdone.

Bullneck 6.5 x 66 $9.99 MSRP ($6.61 @ Famous Smoke)
Apehanger 5.5 x 58 $8.99 MSRP ($5.94 @ Famous Smoke)
Comes in boxes of 20.

From the shaft, I smell barnyard, strong dark chocolate, dried fruit sweetness, and cedar.
From the clipped cap (which I used a Screwpop punch) and the foot, I smell amazing spiciness, intense dark bittersweet chocolate, dried fruit, strong espresso, cedar, and sweet cream.
The cold draw presents flavors of sweet cream, cocoa with marshmallows, cedar, grass, spice, golden raisins, and a slight dash of steak sauce.

Surprisingly, it is much easier than I thought to hold on to the Apehanger in my mouth while I type. It would have been impossible with the Bullneck.
Toasting the foot is a real bitch.
The draw is exceptionally perfect.

First flavors out of the gate: Chocolate, creaminess, spice, caramel, vanilla bean, salty pretzel, raisins, the aroma of new leather, raw honey (Intense aroma and taste), sweetness, wood, nutty, and a vegetal note.

I smoked my first one a week ago and it didn’t have this sort of start. What it did was really kick into gear in the second half. It seems a mere week more has improved things. What did I say? How long ago did Cory send these sticks to me? Shit! Gotta be at least 3 weeks or more.
The char line needs a little bit of attention to start things off.

After letting the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger rest a bit, I pick it up and Bam! A big dose of hefty flavors smack my palate in the puss.
This cigar is going to take way over two hours to smoke so I shall cruise the internets…or is it interwebs for a bit so I don’t write the equivalent of the Torah in one review.


For those goyim, do you know what the Torah is? It is a scroll that is handwritten in Hebrew by a scribe. And what is written in it you ask? It is the “Old Testament.” Add where are they kept in the synagogue? In the Holy Ark (Aron Kodesh) behind the pulpit.

And during my Bar Mitzvah, I got to read a portion of the Torah. It is done so that it takes a full year to read the Torah to the congregation and then they start over again.


And one must not touch the Torah with your fingers. A silver pointer is used so as not to get the oil from your hand on the parchment. Most synagogues have 3 or more Torahs in their Ark. Prestige symbol, I guess.

I got to read the part where the 10 Commandments were written by Moses part. Pretty cool, huh?

I’m 1” into the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger. It’s taken a good 20 minutes.
Flavors are excellent. The flavor profile revolves around the creaminess and chocolate.

Sadly, the spiciness faded a long time ago. For a full bodied stick, I expected more. I jones for ha-cha-cha spiciness. And now, there is virtually none.

Strength is classic medium body. The Apehanger is a real slow smoke. Can’t imagine how long it takes to smoke the Bullneck? 3 hours maybe?

CAO is an old school body of blenders. They haven’t caught on with the New Breed style where cigars are ready to smoke in a month, or sooner. No. Typically, any good CAO takes months. I was hoping with this new shtick of appealing to the manhood in all of us shnooks with the motorcycle on the cigar band, it would be a kick ass blend.

I’m beginning to think the obvious. Either the second half or the last third will be the time and place in which the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger gives ‘em hell.

Hey Fred! How you feeling today?

On my last day of reviewing (February 10), I’m going to spew some thoughts I’ve always wanted to say about the cigar industry. But was too chicken to do so earlier because of the fear of ramifications from my sponsors and the like.
The flavor profile perks up.
Even the malts fall into line. We’ve got some Chocolate Malt, Coffee Malt, and Crystal/Caramel Malt. (See Malt Chart).
Spiciness returns to the fold making me a happy boy.

Smoke time is 40 minutes. Yeah, this will be a two hour cigar.
Oddly, the strength remains at medium body. With a few weeks+ rest, I’m guessing there should be some hint of full body by now.

I take a look at some other reviews and they seem to have the same issues I do. This giant cigar needs months of humidor time. It is a reviewer’s nightmare. You want to do well by your benefactor but you don’t want to wait 3 months to review the damn cigar because it won’t be ready til then. A real conundrum.


So, instead, we bold princes of Maine are basically reviewing the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger’s potential. But some reviewers aren’t kind. They say the hell with the potential and claim the cigar a dud unfairly. Lots of the big guys do that. And what kills me is that the manufacturers send these guys entire boxes of the smokes while we little guys get 2 or 3 cigars. Even when we made the deal for a 5 pack. Like it costs them anything to maintain the integrity of the deal. Oh well. 25 days and counting.

There is no change in the flavor profile. It goes underground.
Only some minor char line touch ups are required but other than that, it is doing well.

There are only a few reviews and most feel the same way I do…that there is something lacking. But I find one semi-big guy reviewer that gives the cigar a 97! Yikes. You’re not supposed to smoke a doob before reviewing. This reviewer tastes things that I don’t remotely taste and I have a great palate. Maybe he got his sticks very early and had the opportunity to really let them humidor age. Must be the reason.


It amazes me as I look at others’ photos. They are fantastic and done so with a smart phone. Their smart phone’s capabilities for shooting photos are 5 times as good as my Fuji camera. Like I said, 25 days and counting.

The halfway point. Smoke time is one hour 10 minutes.
And then…Voila!
Now we’re talkin’! Flavors kick in as predicted. I’m glad it was at the halfway point and not the last third.

Big bold flavors of Chocolate, creaminess, caramel, malts, black walnuts, almonds, sweet marzipan, honey, cedar, vanilla, salty pretzel, raisins, black pepper, pumpkin pie spices, and black licorice.
Now I’m impressed. This is what the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger will taste like from the start 3 months from now. And most probably a real spice bomb at the beginning.

Strength is medium+. Not medium/full quite yet.


I reviewed the CAO Flathead Camshaft 554 on September 1, 2013 and absolutely loved it. But I found there was the same issue between the advertised strength and the real strength. It never reached full body as advertised. I don’t believe the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger will come close either.

At this point, it would be a great blend for newbies. Lots of flavor and not too much strength.
I only had a couple or so readers come to my aid by sending me some great cigars for my last month of review time. I still need more. (Hint, hint). I don’t want any gaps in my last 25 days. But if there are, be it.

BTW- I’ve been listening nonstop to the triple CD Zep live album that Bryan Kinnaman sent me. I’m in love with that man. A real Bromance.

Smoke time is one hour 40 minutes.
Strength finally reaches medium/full body.

There isn’t much in the department of transitions and no real complexity settles in.
Again, this cigar will be a horse of another color with some serious humidor time. But as I’m running out of time, it was now or never. And since Cory at Famous was kind enough to send me samples, I wanted to do the right thing.

Remember, with the promo code of KATMAN, you get 15% off anything over $75 at Famous Smoke Shop. That’s a deal.


I still have one Apehanger left and two Bullnecks left. I shall smoke them in a few months.
Flavors make a grateful surge now. Transitions begin. The balance is now spot on.
And complexity finally begins.
Honestly, I think this will be a killer cigar with the proper rest.

I’m now getting giant portions of wonderful flavors. No change to the earlier list but big and beautiful now. The chocolate creaminess is incredible.
Strength is a solid medium/full.

Construction has been pretty good. I had one small errant seam come loose long ago but fixed it with glue and no trouble since.
The char line has needed a few minor touch ups but that’s all. For such a funky looking cigar, it surprised me with accuracy.

With 1-1/2” to go, the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger is cool without a hint of harshness or heat. Smoke pours from the foot.

Some nicotine kicks in. And the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger finally hits full body.
The chocolate and the creaminess and the nuttiness really made the flavor profile. The black pepper returns and becomes a pepper bomb.

I don’t fault Cory for sending such big cigars. He didn’t know I was giving up to my brain disease.
Therefore, I do recommend this cigar. The only caveat is that both these cigars are huge and need some really extensive humidor time. I might come back in a few months and do an addendum to this review to describe the flavors of a properly rested blend.

Thank you to Cory for supporting the Katman.

Check out Famous Smoke for the CAO Flathead Steel Horse cigars. Prices seem controlled by CAO so everyone is selling them for the same price. But with my promo code from Famous you get 15% off. A $5.94 stick becomes a $5.00 cigar. For that dough, it’s a no brainer. I would definitely buy some and the key to this puzzle is the patience required to let them rest properly.

Final smoke time is 2 hours 15 minutes.



And now for something moronic:
Circa 1966-1969

I had a great gig at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, CA back in my teen years. My best friend worked there already and got me the gig.

I had applied earlier at the main personnel office but since they didn’t hire Jews, or any other ethnic group, I was turned down. It seems that Walter Knott was a real bigot. He hated everyone equally. Even the replica of the Independence Hall building had a table with pamphlets from the John Birch Society and other racist organizations. Sort of defeated the purpose of the hallowed building.



My buddy, Skip, worked across Beach Blvd. where Walter Knott had erected Independence Hall. There was also a big lagoon, a merry-go-round, a miniature train, row boats, and the steamboat: the Cordelia K. It was named for Walter’s wife.



Knott’s began as a berry stand in the 30’s and blossomed into a fried chicken restaurant and then ol’ Walter built a cool looking western town. It was super cool and very realistic. It later had all kinds of western themed rides.


Turns out that the rides were owned by a subcontractor, Bud Hurlbut. He just leased the land from the Knotts. It was he that hired me giving me the distinction of the first Jew ever to work at Knott’s. Walter was a real SOB. He hated anyone not white. Or not Christian. And by the time I went to work there, he was ancient and decrepit. Every once in a while, an employee would give Walter a ride in one of their maintenance golf carts over to the lagoon side where he came to ride the Cordelia K. He never, ever said a word to me.
I thought of pushing him overboard but too many witnesses.

I got hired to be the new steamboat captain. I was thrilled when I found out it wasn’t like Disneyland. No track. I actually drove the boat.

I spent a week in training and then she was all mine. The boat sat around 40-50 people. The price to ride the steamboat was 25¢. In fact, all the rides were 25¢.

I had to wear this stupid captain’s hat that made me sweat. I wore jeans and a nice white shirt with a clip on western tie. And the Knott’s vest with my name on it. So I took the hat off a lot. And I got in trouble a lot.
No one ever noticed what I had written where my name was supposed to go.

Knotts Resized

The steam boat was not run by steam; but rather, a big diesel engine that looked like a steam turbine. And my back was up against it the whole time I drove the boat. And since it was So Cal, it was usually warm all the time. That diesel engine was hot baby. And it spewed horrible fumes. When I was given a break every couple hours or so, I wobbled off the boat and sat on a bench to get my bearings from the brain damage.

I learned how to run the merry go round, and the train, and sell tickets, and send people on their way in a rented row boat. But the captain thing was my main gig.

I got really tired of kids asking me if the boat was on a track when they saw me actually struggling to turn it. So I told them, “No. The boat isn’t on a track…the water is.” I always got befuddled looks and the questions stopped.

The lagoon wasn’t that big. And it had Duck Island in the middle of it. My job was to do two turns around the lagoon. One was a wide berth and the second was close to the island. That’s what you got for your 25¢. No brilliant repartee or speech. Simply a relaxing ride.

But that 25¢ gave people the impression that I would give some sort of narrative and shoot at rising hippos as we rode along the black water.
They were always so disappointed that all I did was keep my mouth shut and drive.

One of my passions was to ram row boats. People would get into them without the slightest hint of how to row a boat so they would be in one place turning the boat in a 360 degree circle.

So I aimed for them. I would grab the megaphone and yell at them to get out of the way and they would start screaming in panic. Good times. Really.

I would then pull back the throttle, let the boat slow down to near still and I would climb out of the front of the boat; and on to the bow. I grabbed a long aluminum gaff and would push them out of the way. All the time they were thanking me for not killing them. It broke up my tedium from going in circles all day.

One Easter Sunday, chaos showed up dressed for the prom. The Farm was packed and so was the boat. I had a sharp turn to make to get out of the dock and turn to the left. Sometimes, I couldn’t make it because there were too many people on the boat. So, I’d have to back it up like a big rig and maneuver it back and forth.

I pulled and pulled that damn steering wheel. And on that day, the steering cable broke. The steering wheel spun like the wheel of fortune.

The boat then floated free. I pulled the steam whistle over and over which was the sign for an emergency. I then got on the bow of the boat. Employees ran over and I yelled the steering was broken.

No one knew what to do, and then one of the employees just started walking into the lagoon…that nasty, smelly, black water. With no filtration system and 2 feet of muck at the bottom.

My head dropped in resignation and I leaped into the water. The people on the boat applauded.
A huge Easter day crowd formed at the rim of the lagoon. I’m surprised TV cameras weren’t there.

By this time, the boat had drifted about 40 feet from the dock. There were four of us in the water trying to push it back to the dock. I moved to the stern. I leaped up to grab the back of the boat and was swiftly hit in the chest with the steering system that looked like two ladders…running horizontally about a foot and a half below the water. The water was so black, you couldn’t see them and I never even knew they were there. I thought the thing had rudders.

I completely submerged into that black morass. Yuck!
I came up covered in muck. This was a bad day.

Me and another fella pushed the stern and two others pushed the bow and after 30 minutes, were able to get the boat back to the dock. Once locked at the dock, a huge applause filled the air…as hundreds and hundreds of onlookers heard what had happened and lined the shore.

The owner, Bud, showed up and sent all four of us across the street for new clothes. Mind you, no shower, but new clothes. We had to work the rest of our shift doing other things, stinking to high heaven. We were young. So we didn’t make a fuss.

All this for $1.65 per hour.



Tags: , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Bar mitzvah Torah readings, racist American icons and Steamboat Philly at the helm: Now THAT’S ONE HELLUVA POST!!

    Steve Martin got his start in show biz working there. I guess you did too. Mazel Tov!

  2. I tried them damn near right out of the cello. The schmucks that thought they were hits that soon have no palates.

  3. Love that name tag and the ramming of row boats. Hahaha. Sounds like something I would have done.

  4. Hello – I Stumbled upon your blog while looking for reviews of this smoke. You specifically mention Famous as being a site sponsor, and their 15% discount. However, once I followed the link intending to buy a box, CAO is not covered under this discount. Just an FYI.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s