CAO Flathead V21 | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Mexican San Andrés
Binder: Honduran Habano
Filler: Dominican Ligero, Nicaraguan Ligero
Size: 6 x 60 Carb
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $14.00 ($12.50 online)

Thanks to Tom K. for donating these cigars.
The cigars have gotten 3 months humi time. For a Gordo, it is probably insufficient. The press release below alludes to the addition of some aging, but they don’t specify how much.

I’ve only seen a couple reviews. The cigar faired from good to very good. But I did notice that the reviews only allowed one month and two months humidor time. I feel I’m rushing it with only 3 months hibernation. But I have people to see and places to go.
The reviews were the 6 x 60. I don’t know. But a 7 x 70…that’s a big honker. I have a small mouth. Well, I learned to make it small while in Quentin. But then I found out that I have more than one hole, so that wasn’t a good idea on my part. But I feel strange when I eat a banana.

Released August 2021
Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes of 27
From (10-21-2021)

“During the 2013 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, General Cigar Co. showed off a new line that was inspired by the expansive world of car hobbyists and enthusiasts. Dubbed Flathead—due not only to the flat cap sported by the cigar, but also as a tribute to the engine style found on vehicles made famous by Ford and Harley-Davidson—that original blend was made up of a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper covering an Ecuadoran Connecticut binder as well as Nicaraguan filler tobaccos in the filler.

“A number of new sizes and line extensions followed between 2013 and 2019—including the Flathead Sparkplug in 2014, the Flathead Steel Horse in 2015 and the Flathead V19 in 2019. In Au4gust of this year, the company announced the newest edition to the series made up of larger ring gauge vitolas that are made with a soft box-press. Named V21, the two-vitola line incorporates a blend that includes a Mexican San Andrés wrapper covering a Connecticut broadleaf binder as well as Dominican ligero and Nicaraguan fillers.

“In addition, General says that the tobacco leaves used in the filler are given a shorter fermentation to “lock in the tobacco’s native characteristics” before undergoing an additional aging process.

“For Flathead V21, we wanted to give our fans a cigar that’s bold and complex, and still perfect for any smoking occasion,” said Rick Rodriguez, CAO’s master blender, in a press release. “We see this as the ultimate cigar for the CAO smoker who wants to experience the complexity of each tobacco with every draw. I’ve personally enjoyed V21 on its own and with a drink and have experienced different notes every time I smoke it. To me, that means we’ve done our job.”

Big Block (Gigante) 7 x 70 $15.00
Carb (Gordo) 6 x 60 $14.00

It’s kind of a rough cobb. One side looks like it wanted to be a box press…but it refuses to give in to that demand. It is very lumpy and bumpy. Plus, it is toothy and thereby feels like fine grit sandpaper. Instead of the usual premium cigar triple cap, the cigar guys felt a double cap was all the cigar needed. I stare at the top of the cigar from above and it looks like a rectangular box press. These cigars must have gotten squished in shipment. I found nothing in the press release about a semi-box press. And lastly, the cigar has no hard or soft spots…feels heavy in the hand.

No boldness to the aromas, but they are there if poke your big schnoz up and down the shaft. I can smell floral notes, chocolate, espresso, butterscotch, malt, black pepper, creaminess, Rice Krispies, cedar, and black licorice.

The cigar is one big plug. I grab my faithful PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool, put on my 1912 hard hat, and get to jabbing and punching to open the draw. The plug turned out to start at the cap and travel just past the cigar band point. My arm got a workout. But now the draw is just how Goldilocks likes it.

Once again, the cold draw presents flavors of dark chocolate, espresso, caramel and black pepper, malt, nougat, and a bunch of nut meats.

I wasn’t kidding about this being a heavy cigar. Dangling it from my lips feels like I am sucking on a big potato.

I do not get any notes of immediate complexity. My puny brain falls back to, “Oh no…it’s a CAO. This means it needs a shit load of naked humidor time.”

The cigar has no redeeming values at this early point. It’s OK…and I’m being polite. I can taste a sack full of black peppercorns. This review is going to take a long time because this horse leg of a cigar is packed tighter than…a lot of things came to mind and not one of them worthy of family entertainment.

There is a generic sweetness. It’s had 3 months of naked hibernation. I bet it tastes no different than the fellow reviewers that only waited a month and two months to write about it. This cigar definitely needs a 6+ month humidor rest before the under aged tobaccos can morph and present a decent portrait of the blender’s intent.

The Flathead series has been a seller for CAO. But I swear, I’ve smoked various blends from CAO for over 20 years and its déjà vu all over again. They don’t age their cigars more than 6 weeks and its off to market. I’m not impressed with the tobacco they choose for their cigars. Every CAO I’ve reviewed has been a disaster. No idea who their customer base is.

This lack of taste could be the reason there are only a few reviews. The cigar was released 3-4 months ago.

If the big cigar manufacturers weren’t so greedy, they would put a little note on the cigar box or cello that instructs how much humidor time the cigar needs to excel and impress the palate. But the plan by the manufacturers is to move cigars off the shelves.

To aim at cigar lounge lizards who will smoke anything right from the cello and love it to death. I saw this happen at the two lounges I worked at in 2019. Maybe 10% of the customers had any kind of acceptable palate. They just want a cigar to smoke that’s cheap and big. Not exactly a rule breaker of the Geneva Convention. But it rubbed me the wrong way watching it. And then a smoker leaving after smoking a $22 Gurkha and telling me it was a great cigar. ??

I lit the cigar 10 minutes ago and less than half an inch has burned. Another reason for so little reviews is that no one wanted to insult CAO with the truth. It is a limited-edition cigar, but it is going to hang around B&M’s and online stores for a very long time. They should hit the bargain bins online within a year.

A little improvement weighs in at 1” burned. Flavors appear for the first time. More importantly, some decent character shows up. More of a well-rounded blend that my palate recognizes as some minor attempt to salvage this Shetland pony horse dick.

Strength is already medium/full. I have 3 feet to go on this cigar and I predict that by the halfway point, it is going to be full tilt and the nicotine will take me down.

The flavors are plain generic. This is a $14 cigar for chrissakes. It should be mopping the floor and doing my laundry.
At the moment, it tastes no better than a $6 catalog blend.

It’s not going to get better. My gut and years of experience tell me this. At some point, I am going to throw in the towel and declare the cigar a loser.

Can you imagine how bad the 7 x 70 must be? And the decades it will take to age it properly in your humidor?

The burn is good…that’s something.

The blend tastes musty and non-descript. My little dance with what I thought was a mile marker in which I detected improvement was nothing more than a guise.

No one is going to enjoy, or like, this cigar. Especially, not at this price point.

Because of the success of the Flathead line, I actually thought this review was going to be a piece of cake. This cigar sucks.

How the fuck does CAO get off selling this crapola blend for the price of $14?
I will tell you why. Because the series has gone well for them, they figured now is the time to rip off our customer base with a bunch of bullshit and a high price. They knew their followers would just have to own this cigar. Assholes. CAO, not the customer base.

It’s taken 40 minutes to get through that gawd awful first third. Makes me ecstatic.
Not a single flavor point stands out. The blend is so generic that it should say Ford Pinto on the cigar band.

I hate reviewing a cigar that is a dog turd. A waste of my time. Tom K. is now hiring a group of assassins just for me.

Maybe another 6 months of humidor time would have fixed the problem. But anytime I see a cigar blend is limited, I want to inform you dear readers so that you can jump on the mule before the are gone. I’ve just taken a bullet for you, kids.

Again, a slight improvement that lulls me into submission hoping the cigar breaks free of its constraints and shows me something to crow about.

No transitions. The finish is muddy. The character? What character? We don’t need no stinkin’ character.

The burn gets funky. I’d like it to walk the plank. Even the man eating/cigar smoking sharks will grimace and swim away.

I think I saw a review that gave this cigar over a 90. I’m going to contact him and see if I can buy from his medical dispensary. Clearly, his shit is better than what I’m getting.
I’ve thought many times of reviewing a cigar high on the demon weed. But once I smoke, my palate is verblunget.

Strength is a bad moon rising. Nicotine enters stage left. Kicks me in the groin so hard that I sprout an umbilical cord…now an umbilical chord is A#7 with a demented 4th.

3 months is too early. This cigar may have great potential but I’m not tasting it. But that doesn’t mean I’m right. Just my own reaction to a perceived dud.

The cigar is packed like all the containers floating around on ships with no place to dock.

“Black Dog.” Led Zep and one of my faves. Back in the early 70’s, I remember working with the guitarist on getting that riff right. It wasn’t easy as it was in a different time signature than the drums.
This cigar is a black dog.

The blend makes no forward progress whatsoever. As bland as Barry Manilow taking it up the arse.

I may be misled, but I taste an improvement. The balance of non-descript flavors are working together to give the cigar a bit of a complex nature. Now I have to smoke the whole fucking thing to see if it redeems itself in the last third. It might show what it will become given 14 years of humidor time.

It is better. I’ve gotten my comment notarized for proof later in court.

The cigar makes my throat scratchy. Water is my friend.

I will be generous with my final rating as the cigar might eventually be promising.
The strength is full tilt. And I’m not even at the halfway point after an hour and a half.

Instead of rolling giant felled logs, CAO would have been better served providing some other choices than big and bigger. A Corona Gorda would be nice. A Robusto would have been better too.

I would love to be a fly on the wall during upper management discussions of the hows and whys of their size decisions. “Smokers love giant cigars. We don’t care what it tastes like. Mikey will buy anything with our brand on it.”

The only positive thing I can say about this cigar is that at least it doesn’t taste bad…it just doesn’t taste like much of anything at all. Still better than a musty, bitter cigar.

The halfway point arrives after only 8 hours.

OK. So, it doesn’t taste bad. But shit…$14…it should be blowing me away. I should be fawning over it. Not using it as a rectal thermometer.

The cigar’s strength and nicotine are killing me. Not sure I can even make it to the last third.

If you buy some, put them away and don’t bring them out til Walt Disney’s head is thawed and attached to a cyborg.

The cigar ain’t going to make any sudden moves and I’m not a fan of self-flagellation.
I see no reason to continue to torture myself. Stick a fork in me.


And now for something completely different:

I haven’t told this one in ages.
After Curved Air, I moved back to Long Beach. Things were not great for a couple of years. I should have stayed in Britain and toughed it out til the next big group needed a bassist. I was auditioning for several groups, but we had no income…just the dough I had earned in CA.

I found a great rock band, playing their own original music, called The Attitude. For long time readers, you’ve seen the music video of “Hound Dog.” But for those that haven’t, fire away. The B side was our rip off of Devo and was called “Condo Bondage.”

The skinny kid playing bass is me. It was 1980. Just prior to the advent of MTV. The video is rudimentary and basic; but fun and dumb. But we did convince Little Richard to play piano on the recording. He killed it. He was in Studio A and we were in Studio B at the same time.

Shortly after joining The Attitude, I saw an ad for The Police who would be playing in Santa Barbara. They just had their first hit of “Roxanne.”

I stared very creepily at the photo of the band’ and it hit me. It was my drummer in Curved Air: Stewart Copeland. He was one of those three blonde heads in the ad.

He made it big time by breaking away from Curved Air…who never had more than a minor hit in America. Huge in Europe, though.

I called their management office in L.A. and told them who I was and could I get tickets?

The man himself called me back: Miles Copeland III. Stew’s oldest brother and the manager of The Police. Miles started with Wishbone Ash and branched off into a gazillion English bands: Caravan, Climax Blues Band, Al Stewart, The Go-Go’s, Renaissance, R.E.M., Fine Young Cannibals, The Bangles, etc, etc. Curved Air was one of them.

Miles seemed excited to talk to me and said he had an idea. He would give me back-stage passes and we would surprise Stew and not tell him I was coming up for their concert.

So, I took my girlfriend with me. Nice drive from Long Beach to Santa Barbara. I believe the band played at the university. Oingo Boingo opened for them.

We got there about 4 pm. Sheila and I saw a small group of people huddled in the corner of the concert hall/gym. It was The Police and Miles. Miles saw me and motioned me over.
I sauntered over and yelled: “Hey douchebag!”

I had that beautiful fro in Curved Air…But times had changed…so had the music; and…the look.
I now had short hair. (I’m the idiot with the glasses):

At first, Stew was shocked at being called a rude name. So, I said, “Hey douchebag. Forgotten old friends now that you’re a rock star again?”
(Copeland and I called each other douchebag the entire time we were in Curved Air.)
His eyes lit up and yelled: “KOHN!!!! You douchebag.”

He literally lifted me off my feet with a bear hug. (Tall guy and I was only 5’-11).
He introduced me to Sting and Andy Summers. They actually pretended to be impressed to meet me because Curved Air was such a big group in Europe.
I didn’t expect that.

First thing Sting said to me was “Phil, how did you put up with that wanker?”
I laughed and did the back-and-forth motion with my hand while my tongue poked back and forth inside my cheek. Sting laughed. He told me, “I should have thought of that…especially since you got him used to it.”

We shot the shit for a while and then they had to do sound check.
Miles handed us our backstage passes.
Then Sheila and I left and got a bite to eat.

When we got back, Oingo Boingo was just starting.
We hung out backstage with the boys in the band and watched.

Great band and Danny Elfman went on to become a great composer for the movies. Director Tim Burton uses Elfman, almost exclusively, for his movies. Elfman went on to score other movies as well’ and has shelves full of Oscars and Grammys.

There must have been 100 Hollywood types that drove up from L.A. to see the concert because The Police weren’t playing L.A. this tour. They had driven down from San Francisco to do the Santa Barbara gig.

I had the white death with me. After all, it was 1981. The height of cocaine use in America.
You saw the movie, “Blow” right? With Johnny Depp as a blonde surfer dude? It was dead nuts true.

Well, the boys had run out of their own blow. They bought a bunch in S.F. and went through it fast. (Whoa)

I was introduced to their head roadies and handed them small vials of the white powder. That did the trick. I had total access to every place the band did.

So, while the Hollywood self-important folks, that made the drive from L.A. to Santa Barbara, were kept at bay and not allowed in the dressing room, Sheila and I just smiled and winked at the 8’-0 tall bodyguard at the door and walked in.

It was skeezy locker room. Not even a chair. Just benches in front of lockers for the players.

So, we sat and talked. Stew, Sting, Andy, Sheila, and me. Stew brought out a joint. And then I brought out the coke. Their eyes lit up like it was Christmas. That one night cost me a fortune. I just had a hunch. (Younger readers won’t get this about the proliferation of coke in the early 80’s all over America) Most of us got out alive. I lost four friends to either overdoses or being murdered.

Now there was Sting. He was new on the scene. Really new. I couldn’t believe that his friends really called him that silly name in private.

So, as I passed the coke around, I did a dog whistle at Sting and said, “(Whistle) You want some?” Sting grabbed the coke dispenser and helped himself to a big dose.
Stew was miffed. He looked at me and said, “His NAME is Sting!”
I stood corrected, and I apologized.

We sat there for about 45 minutes while Sting and Andy quizzed me about Stew in the Curved Air days. We laughed so hard that Sting freaked out and started his voice preparation process because he was fucking up his voice from laughing so hard. He used one of those personal humidification doo dads for clearing your sinuses…very high tech.

The Police went on stage.

I met Elfman while The Police played and found out we had stuff in common. We were both Landsmen. (Jews.) He was also from L.A. We hung out in the same places on the Sunset Strip.
He told me how he almost died from malaria while he toured Ghana to pick up some musical influence.
And then we just stood there and watched The Police.

After the show, we all went back to the locker room. Miles was there along with Jerry Moss of A & M records. Partners with Herb Alpert. I didn’t bring out any coke.

Miles went on about how funny Stew and I were during the radio interviews we did with Curved Air and then he made me tell his favorite story. Anytime we did radio interviews after, or before, a concert, we were asked such stupid questions like: “How did you start in music?”

I had a pat response: “I was in Rabbinical school and one night the head Rabbi caught me in the closet indulging in a pork milkshake. So, I changed my career path to music.”

It always angered the radio DJ’s that I was so flip. I mean I know that’s a stupid thing for me to say. But how many times can you discuss what the music means to me? God knows how long-time, big-time musicians answer the same questions for 40 or 50 years.

I had brought all of The Attitude (Hound Dog?) stuff with me. I brought our 45 single and video.
After I felt comfy with Miles and Jerry, I handed them the “Hound Dog” stuff.
Miles’ assistant sat there as well. Miles turned to the guy, handed him my single, and said with a wink, “You know what to do with this.”

I was stunned. The bastard, in barely veiled boredom, told his assistant right in front of me to throw it away. I was pissed.

I excused myself, gathered up Sheila, who was having a great time with the musicians, grabbed her by the elbow, and said, “Let’s get out of here.”

I gave Stew, Andy and Sting a hug and split.
And now, every 6 months, I beg the Miles Copeland office in London for my record royalties. If I don’t beg for it, I will never get it.


3 replies

  1. Impressive and entertaining review, as always. I had a few CAO’s in the past and with the exception of maybe 3 they were all boring or subpar. The entire Flathead line-up was not worth my time with one exception: Spark Plug. The smallest of the pack was the best if you let it rest 4 months in the humidor.

    Anyway, time to light up a Camacho.

    Best wishes

  2. Did they give you the single back right then? I hope so. I’m so sick of how humans
    just want to hurt people and see them suffer, gaslight them with doubt, and fear, and worry.
    That’s how it is with Autumn leaves here. No one wants to collect them, lovingly.
    Just blow them somewhere they shouldn’t be. HOA puts on blinders.
    And then make the slave who dealt with them correctly, me:
    Feel like crap. Shamed, and mistreated.
    And then called inappropriate or “racist”
    for not being okay with subpar landscaping businesses.
    When the Norway maples in Autumn take priority over my body, i get angry.

    – L

  3. I understand completely, Lara.

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