CAO Cigars Flathead V554 Camshaft

Drew Estate

Cars, cigars and pin-up models sounds like a winning combination, right? Unfortunately for the purposes of Stogie Review, I can really only address the tobacco portion of this cocktail. In this case, it means lighting up the new CAO Flathead V554 Camshaft and taking notes.

As the name suggests, this cigar was inspired by the flathead engines common in older hot rod cars. From the blend, to the flattened cap, to the shiny retro packaging, the idea was to create the tobacco equivalent of blazing down the road in a classic muscle car. The image of this line is so important, that production of the cigar has been slowed to accommodate the time-consuming process of creating the decorative box lids. It’s estimated that between 5000 to 6000 total CAO Flatheads will be made, that’s just 200 to 250 boxes of 24.

Speaking of box count, it’s time for a few specifics. There are four different vitolas, V642 Piston (6 1/2 x 42), V554 Camshaft (5 1/2 x 54), V660 Carb (6 x 60) and the giant V770 Big Block (7 x 70). They range in price from around $6.50 to $9.50. The entire line is box pressed, and should be hitting shop shelves in the next couple of weeks. Let’s see how it is.

(If you’d like to hear a little more about the concept behind Flathead, be sure to check out our recent interview with Rick and Ed at IPCPR.)

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5 1/2 x 54
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Binder: Ecuadoran Connecticut
Filler: Nicaragua
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: IPCPR Samples
Price: MSRP $7.25

The Pre-Smoke
The Flathead V554 Camshaft was a pretty slick looking cigar. It’s jet black, oily, box-pressed and decorated with a eye-catching black and silver band. The wrapper leaf was pretty uniform in color, and the veins were generally fine in size. The wrapper had a pleasing chocolate and light compost funk aroma, and a cold draw tasted like sweet chocolate. Some of the samples I smoked had minor imperfections, generally around the veins, but nothing too troubling.

The Burn
There are a couple of negative things to report in the burn department. The first is that no matter how carefully I cut the V554 Camshaft with my Xikar scissors, there was some unraveling at the head, and it did negatively impact the experience. Though for the most part the cigar stayed lit, it burned irregularly and at times required a touch up. But on the positive side, the cigar did produce long, light colored ashes, and the draw was always perfect.

On the topic of cutting the cigar, Rick and Ed mentioned preferring a punch over the guillotine cut for the Flathead. They said it was for draw reasons, but I’ve found it also has the benefit of better preserving the cap and preventing the cigar from unraveling. I don’t ordinarily punch cigars, but I gave it a shot with the last of my samples. As suspected, the additional cap leaf did keep the head of the cigar together better, though it did nearly come off several times.

The Flavor
There were no major transitions in flavor from one third to the next, so I’ll dispense with the formality of breaking this part into thirds. The cigar began with a rich, slightly chalky chocolate mixed with leather and a faint pepper. As it progressed, the cigar grew more earthy, with sweeter notes of caramel and cinnamon making appearances. A little past half way through the smoke, a meaty flavor emerged and the influence of earth and pepper grew. This bolder profile carried the cigar to its conclusion.

The Price
$7.25 a stick seems like a reasonable price. I’m always happy to see new cigars on the market that live south of the ten dollar border.

The Verdict
I like the CAO Flathead V554 Camshaft. It doesn’t burn perfectly (to the point of being a little annoying) and it isn’t very complex, but it offers rich, enjoyable flavors on the fuller side of the spectrum. I don’t see a box buy in the future, but there’s room in my humidor for a couple of these. (Figuratively anyway, there isn’t actually any available space in any of my humidors at the moment.) I’d say it’s the best tasting CAO smoke released since the La Traviata (that I’ve had), and it’s worth trying out. Just keep that punch cutter handy, or some pectin.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.