Deep in flavor. Deep in your mind.

11/1/15

CAO Flathead 660 - Cigar Review

Prologue:
9:30pm
I am a fan of history. I am a fan of horse racing. I am not a fan of American Pharoah, nor his short tail, plain looks, misspelled moniker, or seeming lack of awareness of his own greatness a la which Zenyatta  -- of whom I am a fan, exhibited. That said, it was history that had me whooping at my TV screen as AP became the first Grand Slam winning pony in ever.

CAO looks to history for the installments of their Flathead line. A history of pomade and motor oil. Of gas guzzlers and milk shakes made entirely of dairy. Of diners and of ... well, let's just see in --

The Cigar:
CAO Flathead
660 V660 Carb 6
Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper
Habano Connecticut binder
Nicaraguan Ligero and
Piloto Cubano Ligero fillers
6 x 60 box-pressed

"Inspired by hot rods and pin-up girls, CAO Flathead is a box pressed collection that hits on all cylinders. Hand-shaped to deliver a striking flat top, the cigar features a brawny Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper and a blend that’s heavy on Nicaraguan leaf. Its frontmarks are named for engine parts, but the tribute to muscle cars doesn’t end there. Flathead gives a nod to the muscle car engine, with a lid that’s easily removed and used as wall art. There’s also a collectible, pin-up girl flysheet that’s enclosed in the box." caocigars.com
Pre-light
The band evokes what it sets out to evoke, I get 'rail car' style 40-50s diner. Perhaps a hinted homage at a hood ornament of that era. Not terrible images to evoke. After that, the nest two things I note is that I love box-pressed cigars and that the foot is cut on a slight diagonal bias.

The cap is flat. Meaning the head is flat. Meaning CAO is taking this Flathead thing quite seriously, gentlepersons. The wrapper touts an even, dark espresso complexion that looks ripe and savory, albeit a tad dull -- interesting there is that there are oils, just dull ones lacking vibrancy. Seams are clean, veins are somewhat pronounced but not in a potentially troublesome fashion. Foot tobacco is rich brown with golden red hues and packed densely. To the squeeze, there are a couple of soft spots on the otherwise medium packing.

Involving the schnoz now, there are rich supple tobacco notes of earthiness with a leathery toast backing and a floral hint. Moving from shaft to  foot, there is a nuttiness added to the toast, which takes on a whole grain scent.

I do away with the cap using my trusty Old Timer and right off, there is a somewhat firm draw. On the cold pull there are those rich tobacco notes from the nose and a deepening of floral notes. Very bready. Dry savoriness -- bones not meat.

Light
Smoke off the toasting is, well, toast. Too there is a woodsy earthiness and walnut notes. The light itself is a patient affair and borders on being hesitant to char. This CAO fits nice enough though a bit awkwardly in the smoke-hole. In the hand, however, it may be found simply cumbersome.

First hot pull is leather and earth and wood and bread -- as soon as the spices calm. A second hot one is retro-haled and brings some warm spices of nutmeg and cumin along with peppers. A third is of deepening spices of the warm, not hot variety. Peppers, nutmeg and cumin develop toward well roasted. A molasses, light with deep floral notes sets in at the end of the draw and lasts through the finish on the back of a nice a nice crisp wood. Medium to long length.

Ash is pale grey to charcoal flecks and dryly dense. Burn-line is medium+ thick and there is a tad of a run in the burn itself which may require a touch-up, lest it canoe.

Medium profile thus far in the offering. Nice complexities at play between the floral notes and bread, and the cedar and molasses. Forefront is spice, but a rapidly subduing array. Finish is setting into long and stays clean on my palate.
Act I
The burn is attempting to right itself, but I have it on a short leash and under a sharp eye. The aroma is quite lovely off the foot and all around. Notes of vanilla and sweet fruits with some creme brulee.

Vanilla hits the draw too and the cream goes to the finish lending to an exquisite mouth-feel. I retouch the burn, as it seems to have stopped correcting itself. During this, a half inch of ash clumps onto my desk/folding table and is both dense and powdery. I adjust my lap schmatta/hankie.

Flavors sharpen a bit but remain intact as stated, with the too stated diminishing of peppers. The sharpening crisps the mouth-feel but does not dry. Floral notes and a light melon come on-board, this lightens the toasting and stops deepening the profile. Kind of nice, actually, a show of restraint to allow through some nuances. The aroma continues to be a fantastic display of balance and is of medium output -- not an overwhelming display.

Profile remains spot-on medium. So far, it's a lovely dessert stick, prepared by a chef for a calorie counting guest. Fruity floral notes with a hint of wood which seems to aim at cedar. The tobacco continues on nicely, in subtle richness of leather, earthiness. Artisan bread finish with more creamy notes coming in on the vanilla.

Construction is where imperfections reside. A chronically uneven burn, thick burn-line, and an obvious softening of packing. I'm forced to address the burn again, as a corner looks to not stay lit.

At the end of Act I, there is a deepening of sweet notes which dulls the corners of the tobacco's sharpness, but nicely so. The finish goes to -long. Strength: -medium, and flavors/body (mainly a clean sweetness and light vanilla cream stay at medium, as well.

Act II
Nutty notes fade. Vanilla floral notes on a cream backing with a bit of molasses. Leather and white toast ebb and flow alternatively. Earthiness is hit with a ray of sunshine and introduces a sweet hay which cuts the cream and prevents a sickly dense, one-dimensional dessert.

The burn is by no means even, but far better than prior. Burn-line has thinned to medium at most point. Softening of pack has ceased. Burn slows. Aroma is key here and remains super deelish and unchanged.

The legs shorten on the finish but it remains nice and sweet but not overly so in some sort of immature manner. A cup of diner-style coffee comes in to replace the underlying espresso which I may or may not have previously made mention of. We are transitioning, gentlepersons.

The new coffee clings to the sweet cream as oak and bread rise. The bread is a top shelf store brought pre-sliced thing. As Act III approaches we are at a medium+ in all but a -medium strength. Construction as far as an easier draw has improved. Floral notes and molasses are bye-bye.

Act III
A creamery butter is spread on the white bread and the diner cup o' joe stays on nicely. Hay and vanilla balance nicely, and for further balance, a white pepper is on the retro-hale.

This is a great lunchtime smoke, if you have an apparent mid-day two hours. I am aware we are still transitioning and this, I find impressive -- for now. I roll off an inch+ paler more dense ash, and for some reason I am put in mind of a white meatless gravy. Savory, yet not burdensome.

Light floral notes re-emerge and butter sticks through to the finish. Vanilla subsides. As the long transition ends, all flavors rest via muting. It seems we shall ride it out in a way that hits the theme only half perfectly. We have the sedation, the near everyday drudgery of the attempted period, but not at all the muscle. The waitress tops off my coffee and I notice the peroxide in her hair covers much grey in her natural mousey brown beehive.

There is some charring at the end, but the continuous white peppers clear it.  Remember to retro-hale. Balance remains, but it does so on a far more simple canvass. Bite threatens, retreats.

Construction flaws add another note in a slight unraveling of the cap. At a 60RG, however, I wasn't expecting to chew the thing.

I'm in a diner with buttered toast and loaded coffee before me. It's nice enough, the stool and counter aren't sticky. This cigar took me to a place in time and reminded me that in every era, there is excitement and there are old folks. Outside, an engine revs and my fellow diners look toward the noise and shrug, mutter.

I'm waiting for the check. I'm waiting for the check. I stand and stretch, get my coat on -- hoping to catch the waitress's eye. I'm waiting for my check...
Notes
From hero to goat, this CAO offering. Perhaps "goat" overstates the matter. Maybe Daniel Murphy's homer fest followed by game losing error still lingers on my palate. The goat's name was Murphy (read your baseball curse history), for crying in the sink. You'll get 'em next year, CAO and Cubbies, both.

Pairings
Coffee or cola.

Final Grade B-
(A from start to transition. Then downhill. And the transition is burdensome. Too, construction woes. Final third is laborious.)

Epilogue
11:36pm
Trick-or-treating in the rain makes the candy taste sweeter when ya get home. I mean after you change out of soaked clothing and finish cursing the Pacific Northwest in its entirety.

I hope you all had a spooktacular evening; and thanks for reading.