CAO Flathead 554 – Cigar Review

This week’s cigar review is of the CAO Flathead 554 cigar.  This is a fairly new release by CAO and has been rated highly.   This box-pressed cigar has good construction and a beautiful wrapper leaf.  It has a sweet and fruity tobacco smell to the wrapper.  It’s worth noting that the large size AND box-pressed shape means you need a very large cutter to open this cigar up.  Once lit, we tasted a very rich bbq (sweet and salty) pepper, and charred wood flavor.  It is delicious.  The cigar gets even more flavorful as we smoke, it ends with a spicy pepper and earth flavor.  Overall, this was a full bodied and full strength cigar that really delivered.  In each third the flavor transitioned and it was very complex.  A couple of our cigars had minor burn issues (fairly common with box-pressed smokes), but this is a must try cigar.

StraightUpCigars – Matt: Rating:
Flavor and Taste: 19/20
Construction: 8/10
Wrapper: 5/5
Price Point: 10/10
Would I buy a Box: 5/5
Total: 47/50
Terry1: Rating:
Flavor and Taste: 18/20
Construction: 8/10
Wrapper: 5/5
Price Point: 10/10
Would I buy a Box: 5/5
Total: 46/50

IamDarren: Rating:
Flavor and Taste: 18/20
Construction: 10/10
Wrapper: 5/5
Price Point: 10/10
Would I buy a Box: 5/5
Total: 48/50


Jan 28 2014, 7:45 PM
Terry1: Nice looking cigar, dark wrapper, box pressed and I’m guessing the size is 5″ x 54. Thus the name. I wonder how they flattened the head of the cigar?
Jan 28 2014, 7:47 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: Yeah, this has a great looking dark wrapper. One thing on the cap, since it’s box pressed shape (and fairly large vitola) this barely fit into my cutter.
Jan 28 2014, 7:49 PM
IamDarren: Love the look of this cigar. Wrapper is beautiful
Jan 28 2014, 7:50 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: It has somewhat of a fruity sweet smell to the wrapper. Perfect draw after cutting.
Jan 28 2014, 7:50 PM
IamDarren: Yeah, wrapper is fermented to perfection. Got that sweet and spicy smell. Got mine cut and ready to light.
Jan 28 2014, 7:51 PM
Terry1: I found it a little ackward to cut. There’s not the typical shoulder area with this flattop. Now that I look at it I see the cap covers more of the head than I first thought. Plenty of room to cut past the shoulder without unravelling the wrapper.
Jan 28 2014, 7:52 PM
Terry1: Good draw. Ready to light up.
Jan 28 2014, 7:52 PM
IamDarren: yeah my shuriken didn’t give me a very good draw. I noticed that the outer layer of the cap was loose so i peeled it off and now I have a great draw.
Jan 28 2014, 7:53 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: lighting too
Jan 28 2014, 7:54 PM
IamDarren: wow, first impression is hearty and bold! very rich
Jan 28 2014, 7:54 PM
IamDarren: getting plenty of pepper as well
Jan 28 2014, 7:55 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: It is very bold. Great smoke production and draw.
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Jan 28 2014, 7:56 PM
Terry1: I’m getting some nice bbq type of flavors. Very good. The smoke on mine is a bit airy. I’m hoping it thickens up as we smoke.
Jan 28 2014, 7:57 PM
IamDarren: wrapper is oozing oil near the burn line. This one is going to compete with the likes of Diesel and Genesis i bet. Super rich, already getting coffee flavor. Salivating, so im guessing it has its fair share of ligero.
Jan 28 2014, 7:59 PM
Terry1: I’m getting that pepper you mentioned. It’s really ramping up.
Jan 28 2014, 8:01 PM
IamDarren: i usually have construction issues with box-pressed cigars so im hoping it holds up. Flavor is great. Its really hearty with a slightly salty aftertase. Like eating salted beef.
Jan 28 2014, 8:02 PM
IamDarren: tons of smoke production, and so far a great burn
Jan 28 2014, 8:03 PM
Terry1: Mine is already burning crooked. It’s following the box press. I’m going to leave it alone for now and see if it self corrects.
Jan 28 2014, 8:03 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: For me this one has a charred wood and coffee flavor with pepper and and an odd lingering sweetness (I think it’s the BBQ Terry mentioned).
Jan 28 2014, 8:04 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: I have got hiccups and am salivating bad on this one – it’s got some serious strength.
Jan 28 2014, 8:04 PM
IamDarren: coffee and bbq… pretty darn good combination. I think im in love
Jan 28 2014, 8:04 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: It is VERY good tasting. Mine has an uneven burn already too, Terry.
Jan 28 2014, 8:06 PM
IamDarren: if they really wanted to create a statement and stay true to the flathead theme they should have only pressed one side flat and left the rest round.
Jan 28 2014, 8:07 PM
IamDarren: in about an inch (probably speed smoking) and the pepper is fading out and the sweetness is increasing.
Jan 28 2014, 8:08 PM
Terry1: I’ve got about a half inch of ash and it looks like it’s going to flower. The burn is trying to straigten out. The flavors and smoke production are going great.
Jan 28 2014, 8:11 PM
Terry1: Okay that was weird. I tapped the ash because part of it was already falling off and a chunk of the cherry fell out. Still seems to be smoking okay. Maybe there was a leaf chunk that was causing the flowering.
Jan 28 2014, 8:11 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: The wind chill is 8* here tonight, hence the lack of typing. I don’t like taking my gloves off Loving the cigar though, totally worth it.
Jan 28 2014, 8:13 PM
IamDarren: my cigar is burning perfectly and has mellowed just enough to bring out more sweetness. You really picked a good one Matt. If this one keeps going like this the scores are gonna be up there.
Jan 28 2014, 8:13 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: I agree. Mine has taken on a unique sour/bitter note that really complements the flavor, as long as it doesn’t get stronger.
Jan 28 2014, 8:13 PM
IamDarren: mine is not flowering, ash is at least an inch and is holding strong.
Jan 28 2014, 8:15 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: Oh, and before I take any credit, this one was gifted to us by General Cigar along with a couple of other IPCPR 2013 releases.
Jan 28 2014, 8:16 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: So I was really close to picking your unbanded cigar, Terry. My brain is not working well enough for a challenge though, we got a puppy last weekend and we have barely slept for the last few nights. I don’t know how you guys do it with human children
Jan 28 2014, 8:17 PM
Terry1: Thank you General Cigar. Mine is getting sweeter like Darren mentioned. Ash is looking more normal. I think there was a leaf chunk at the foot of the cigar. They all can’t be perfect.
Jan 28 2014, 8:18 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: Mine is just like yours, Terry, except mine hasn’t corrected itself yet. The uneven burn is a bummer, but is easily overlooked with this good flavor.
Jan 28 2014, 8:19 PM
IamDarren: im ready to endorse this one
Jan 28 2014, 8:20 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: I know the cold weather accentuates the clouds of smoke I’m puffing, but you should see the huge billows… it’s comical.
Jan 28 2014, 8:21 PM
Terry1: I’m smoking in the man cave and there is a cloud building in here as well. Lots of smoke for just one cigar.
Jan 28 2014, 8:21 PM
IamDarren: mine is starting to pick up a totally new flavor. Closest I can say is citrus. Its sweet with a tangy note mixed in. Very interesting.
Jan 28 2014, 8:23 PM
IamDarren: complexity… check!
Jan 28 2014, 8:24 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: I’m getting that too Darren, that’s the sour note I was tasting.
Jan 28 2014, 8:25 PM
IamDarren: good to know my taste buds aren’t just f’d up
Jan 28 2014, 8:26 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, you may still have freakish taste buds. I think all 3 of us do.
Jan 28 2014, 8:28 PM
IamDarren: well my wife would gag and say it smells/tastes disgusing… I think most cigar smokers have freakish taste buds.
Jan 28 2014, 8:28 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: I agree, definitely an acquired taste.
Jan 28 2014, 8:29 PM
Terry1: Just looked these up on CI. They’re cheaper than I expected, around $5 for the camshaft. Like the box a lot. Good god they have a 7″ x 70! Too big for me.
Jan 28 2014, 8:30 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: Yeah, General needs to cut back on the huge ones. The box and band for this one is sweet!
Jan 28 2014, 8:31 PM
Terry1: Glad to see General keeping the CAO creativity alive. The CAO Concert is another cigar with fun packaging.
Jan 28 2014, 8:32 PM
IamDarren: Did big RGs ever get that popular. I haven’t read too many blogs and reviews where people enjoy them.
Jan 28 2014, 8:34 PM
IamDarren: my cigar is probably at the halfway point. The overall flavor at this point is reminding me of some type of smoked meat…. maybe hickory. What a complex cigar.
Jan 28 2014, 8:35 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: I’m sure they have market research and sales numbers to back it up, but you’re right that it seems reviewers don’t go for them. I think the average smoker sees them and thinks they’re the best value (I used to).
Jan 28 2014, 8:36 PM
IamDarren: can’t they just throw in some more bland tobacco to get the same flavor profile?
Jan 28 2014, 8:36 PM
Terry1: Agree on the flavor. I’m about half way too. I haven’t notice the citrus yet but I am getting a nice sweetness to go along with the meaty flavors.
Jan 28 2014, 8:39 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: I’m a little past halfway.
Jan 28 2014, 8:39 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: I bet that’s what they do Darren.
Jan 28 2014, 8:39 PM
Terry1: I would think the economics of cigar making would make it manditory to use cheap, thus less flavorful, tobacco to bulk them up and keep them in line, cost wise, with the rest of the line.
Jan 28 2014, 8:40 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: You guys must be right. There’s no way they can have a cigar that 100% bigger than small vitolas but only costs 30% more.
Jan 28 2014, 8:44 PM
Terry1: Man this middle third is tasting fantastic, best so far. Lot’s of well balanced flavors just tickeling the senses.
Jan 28 2014, 8:48 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: There’s so much flavor in this third, it’s unreal. It does leave my mouth tingling.
Jan 28 2014, 8:49 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: The pepper has increased for me, but so have the other flavors so this thing is just booming.
Jan 28 2014, 8:52 PM
IamDarren: having some internet issues. hope i fixed it.
Jan 28 2014, 8:52 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: Seems to be fixed.
Jan 28 2014, 8:56 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: And he’s gone
Jan 28 2014, 8:58 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: My uneven burn took care of itself, I never had to correct it.
Jan 28 2014, 9:00 PM
Terry1: Into the final third and I’m beginning to feel the srength. The sweetness I was getting has faded. The coffee, pepper and earthy notes are dominating now. I’m still liking it but not as much as that middle third.
Jan 28 2014, 9:02 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: I can feel it too, this is a strong one. I agree, the sweetness has faded. The pepper and spice is dominating, helping make this cigar one of the more full-bodied we have reviewed.
Jan 28 2014, 9:05 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: We’re missing the
Jan 28 2014, 9:05 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: State of the Union tonight
Jan 28 2014, 9:07 PM
Terry1: I’m getting close to the end. Hopefully Darren gets back in time to score the cigar.
Jan 28 2014, 9:09 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: I am at the end of the nub. I think I was smoking a little faster than you guys tonight. Yeah, he better get back soon!
Jan 28 2014, 9:11 PM
Terry1: Okay I’m setting this one down. It’s getting too hot to hold.
Jan 28 2014, 9:12 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: Overall I’d say this cigar was a knockout. The flavor profile changed in each third, the construction was good, just uneven burn. Low price. This is a good one!
Jan 28 2014, 9:12 PM
Terry1: Ageed. Good cigar and good value.
Jan 28 2014, 9:14 PM
Terry1: If the whole cigar tasted like the middle third did I’d have given it a 20 on flavor.
Jan 28 2014, 9:15 PM
StraightUpCigars – Matt: I hear ya, that was a good one. PS I think the strength of the cigar got to your addition abilities
Jan 28 2014, 9:15 PM
Terry1: You’re right! I forgot to adjust the total.
Jan 28 2014, 11:53 PM
IamDarren: I am going to add this to my rotation for sure. You guys are right, the flavors got kinda muttled in the last third but were still enjoyable. The transition from the rich, peppery first third to the sweet and savory second third was really enjoyable.


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