CAO Flathead V19 | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Connecticut Habano
Filler: Dominican (Piloto Cubano), Nicaraguan (Estelí, Condega, & Jalapa)
Size: 5.5 x 50
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $11.99

Today we take a look at the CAO Flathead V19.
Samples were provided by General Cigar.

According to
“CAO’s popular Flathead is getting a follow up this year.
It’s called the CAO Flathead V19 and uses tobaccos from Connecticut for both the wrapper and binder. The outermost leaf is a broadleaf varietal, while the binder is habano. Fillers are from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

“Production is limited to 2,350 boxes of each size.

“The original Flathead debuted in 2013 using a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. A press release explains how General developed the amped up version of the Flathead:
‘Ricky (Rodriguez) and the team gave each of the leaves an abbreviated fermentation to lock in the tobacco’s native flavors and added a longer aging process to refine them. By painstakingly watching over the tobaccos and working with small batches, they were able to create the CAO Flathead V19.”

“For V19, we wanted deep flavor and power, the kind of cigar that demands your attention, just like a classic car or motorcycle does,” said Rodriguez in a statement to halfwheel. “This is the cigar for the CAO smoker who likes the boldest blends in our line.”
Flathead V19 will debut at this week’s IPCPR Convention & Trade Show and begin shipping to retailers on Aug. 1.”

Camshaft V19 5.5 x 50 $11.99
Carb V19 6 x 60 $12.99

A beautiful wrapper glistening with rich oils making the cigar look like a well-oiled Nefertiti. A brownish hue with hints of reddish highlights. Yeah, veins are visible. Exposed veins. A soft box press. But the stick is solid without hard or soft spots. The wrapper is smooth as glass. And topping it off is the identifiable flat top cap.

Strong notes of dark cocoa, floral, sweet elements, malt, luscious creaminess, smokiness, café au lait, black pepper, cedar, and some minimal barnyard.
The cold draw presents flavors of dark chocolate, malt, creaminess, red pepper, cedar, and a touch of black licorice.

The draw is on point and I don’t need my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool. Another time…

I’ve had this stick less than 2 weeks. I smoked one last night and it shocked the shit out of me. I had to review it this morning.

Here we are with a groundbreaking price of $12-$13 for a CAO blend. Nearly twice as much as 90% of their catalog. This piqued my interest immediately.

It is nicely aged after rolling as I wouldn’t be touching it otherwise. I’ve found CAO blends take incalculable humidor time for their blends to age properly before ready to smoke.

A well rolled cigar as the resistance from each puff is perfect. The cigar is packed to the hilt as it lies heavy in the hand. I’m glad that GC sent me the smaller of the two sizes. The Gordo would have been a 2-1/2 hour smoke.

The spiciness makes an impact as my lips burn and my tongue feels the tingle. I feel and taste black pepper in the back of my throat. There is almost a spicy cinnamon element going on.
The richness of this tobacco shines through toot suite. It is thick with potential.
Strength is right at medium/full.

New flavors popping up: Malt, creaminess, chocolate frosting, café au lait, licorice, some Indian spices that add to the spiciness, vanilla, candied walnuts, and a lob of cedar. No earth, wind, and leather.

Without equivocation, even at this early juncture, this is truly a $12 stick. It ain’t fucking around. It gets down and dirty from the get-go. I had a very positive experience with the one I smoked last night and that was done on a crispy palate after smoking all day.

A nice balanced complex nature kicked in at the start. It continues to grow as its richness expands. Transitions are wonderful as they seem to be fixated on the mainly sweet features…chocolate, sweet cream, and malted milk balls ( A condition I had when I was young).

This is a magic breakthrough for CAO. They have actually delved into the bonafides of real boutique blending. A shame it’s not a regular production cigar so once word of mouth spreads; along with good reviews, it won’t last more than a few months…if that.

I discovered CAO blends around the year 2000 and was a fan. But I outgrew them as their blends became average tasting based on how my palate perceived them; and as I reviewed more and more.

Not many boutique manufacturers around almost 20 years ago. I believe the huge uptick of boutique blends entering the market in the last 10 years upped most manufacturers’ game in order to compete. Others ignore the phenomenon as they had their steady customer base and didn’t want to fuck with a good thing.

Of course, the latest thing is to get AJ Fernandez to put his mark on what we used to think of as ordinary catalog brands.

The CAO Flathead V19 reaches a tipping point and goes for gold. An absolutely delicious cigar. A true high premium in disguise.

The beautiful job of rolling this cigar is making it a very slow and enjoyable roll.
This is a meaty blend. The smoky quality is outstanding.

And here we go into the Way Back Machine, Mr. Peabody. “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly is playing. Back in the 60’s, we all had to play this song at dances. But the long drum solo allowed everyone, but the drummer, to step outside to smoke a spliff.

Almost 40 minutes to get here. Nice.

And now for my first sip of water. Blam. Flavors coat my teeth as the finish is just exemplary. Transitions are moving faster. The complexity is becoming intense.

This is now my favorite CAO blend of all time. It has huge potential for aging beautifully. Remember, I’m smoking it after only two weeks upon receipt. And I’m bloody impressed. I’d pay $12 for this stick in a heartbeat. I love the size. Not quite a real Robusto or Toro…just right. Goldilocks is in play.

Strength is still at medium/full. It could be stronger but the blend is so friggin’ smooth, it is hard to tell. The blend is linear in its determination to wow the senses. But the flavor profile is all over the place with elements jutting in and out; nearly causing overload of the palate as the complex components mystify and juxtapose. (Still have my Thesaurus).

A quantum leap occurs in the complexity. It is bold and beautiful. So rich, that it is impossible not to lick one’s own lips thinking there are bits of chocolate and custard sticking to them.

BTW- General Cigars sends me cigars from time to time but they never read my reviews. I am truly not trying to impress them. I scratch my head at times when I receive some cigars from GC and discover they sent me the same blends I reviewed previously. Still, very generous of them.

If I had blind taste tested this cigar…not in a million years would I have guessed it’s a CAO blend. I could name any great list of boutique brands who would be proud to have this blend in their catalog.

Fucking decadent now. I cannot believe how mature the aging is. CAO chose not to disclose their actual aging process on this blend for some reason. They did mention they shortened the fermentation process.

At only 2350 boxes of 20 produced, that’s only 47,000 cigars total for each size. Cigars International has knocked off a couple bucks from the price of each cigar in a box purchase…but not in a fiver. Without finishing this cigar, I can say it is box worthy. Of course, if I spent $200 on a box of cigars, my wife will have my ‘nads in a jar by the litter box. Still, I see a fiver in my future.

It takes a full hour to get to the halfway point and boy are my arms tired.
This makes me happy. Nothing pleases me more than to smoke a superb blend that doesn’t rush things.

I’ve broken my box press burn issue syndrome curse. The burn is impeccable. I’d like CAO to divulge more about their rollers.

The CAO Flathead V19 hits full tilt in the strength department. Newbies beware. It is now kicking ass and taking names. Yet, it remains smooth as ice.

Da flavors: black and red pepper, creamy chocolate icing, coffee and cream, candied walnuts, licorice, malt, vanilla, a slight touch of caramel, meaty, smoky, spicy cinnamon, cedar, various exotic spices, and dripping with a delicious aged tobacco-ness.

Yet…it’s not a flavor bomb. The balance is spot on; eliminating a frontal assault to the palate. The savory and sweet components are right where I like them. The strength is lethal but yet not nicotine. There, I’ve jinxed it.

So, how was your weekend? How’s the family?

The blend is making me see flocks of white doves perched on my windowsill; all singing Disney tunes.

Ever go to Disneyland in the early 70’s on acid? Me neither. And have It’s A Small World ride get stuck in the middle? Try and burn that bloody tune out of your head…it’s impossible. My friends used the occasion to burn one as the other folks in the boat were happy to imbibe. Of course, Disney employees smelled it and came running but the evidence was long gone; except for the shit eating grins on our faces.

“Immigrant Song” by Led Zep is playing. Have you seen the Jeff Beck concert where he has Page sit in and Beck plays the tune as an instrumental? Phenomenal.

I betcha’ the powers that be at CAO have been anticipating this release with gleeful probability of surprising the shit out of cigar smokers everywhere.

This cigar will be a big hit which bodes well that they will re-release it again next year.

The strength is mighty yet I’m not delirious. I’m having a great fucking time. I can’t wait for you guys to try this. Whoda’ thunk it?
I just took a time out and ordered a fiver from CI. That should hold me over.

As I described earlier, the blend is so powerful in its presentation that it doesn’t matter if it’s your first stick of the day or your 5th…although I highly recommend it being your first for maximum effect.

With only 1-1/2” to go, I am savoring every moment.
Color me dazzled.

With 47,000 sticks for each size on the market now, they won’t disappear like an Ezra Zion release, but if you dawdle, you will be kicking your pet parakeet over the moon calf delay.
I’ve never given a CAO blend such a high rating. It deserves to be fawned over.
Carry on…



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9 replies

  1. Well blow me down!!!! I gotta find this cigar. A CAO with a 95 rating from Katman is a must try!!! I like the flat heads but usually score them in the 80s. I’m looking forward to trying this one!

  2. I was going to remark how you have written that CAO doesn’t age well, but you address it here. Your memory is still going strong.

    So, I’ll ask about the price, which is higher than most CAOs. Is this a great CAO or a great all around cigar at $12?

  3. It’s not that CAO blends don’t age well. It’s that I don’t believe most blends are aged enough before they are slipped into their cellos putting the burden of appropriate aging on the consumer.
    The V19 is a great cigar regardless of who makes it. And worth the $12.
    I also have the $8 CAO Session waiting on review. I smoked one and it was harsh and unexciting with not much potential. It is malty to bring about a beer taste but lacking in complexity and balance. Just an ordinary blend that if it does improve greatly, will take a lot of humi time to do so.

  4. Let’s go to Nashville and smoke CAO cigars at all the cigar lounges. Great place for cigars

  5. Thanks for the reply. -keith

  6. Just picked up a box on cigar bid for 137, 3 hours left on bid

  7. I haven’t even burned through the first inch, and I am putting on the brakes! I thought I knew what a strong cigar was. At least based on my experience, it’s very strong – and I LOVE IT. The flavors coming out of this thing are intense. My lips are tingling. And the smoke output is absolutely nuts. Based purely on quality, it’s easily a 10 stick purchase. But I can see me smoking them maybe once every six weeks due to the intense experience.

    Thanks once again for sharing these amazing cigars with us, Phil!

  8. Thanks Bryant…so glad you enjoyed it like I did.
    All the best,

  9. I had to try another one to validate my first. It’s now my cigar of the year. Just marginally ahead of the Stolen Crown.

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