CAO is undoubtedly one of the most coveted cigar brands in the world. Every piece of tobacco they make reflects an unwavering commitment to quality — one reason why I keep coming back for more.

Debuted in 2013, the Flathead is among the brand’s finest blends designed to appeal to car enthusiasts. A dark Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper encasing a rich two-nation interior lends the cigars a sleek and elegant appearance. With five vitolas to choose from, you’ll indeed find something that matches your palate.

However, when you thought that Flathead was a real treat, CAO surprises you. Introduced in 2015, Flathead Steel Horse is both similar to and different from its predecessor. The line features the same iconic flat cap we all know and love — only that this time around, it was inspired by popular motorcycle culture. Using an entirely new approach, the CAO took a step further to achieve a blend that will satisfy you or leave you wanting more.

Wrapper Origin: ConnecticutShape: Toro
Length: 5.75Ring: 54
Wrapper: HabanoList Price: $179.80 (Box of 20)
Origin: NicaraguaStrength: Full

Pull of Cigar

The Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger stands out from every angle with its stunning rustic exterior. A lovely Connecticut Habano wrapper firmly encircles the cigar, never letting any possibility of tearing. It sports decent oils, just enough to give the stick a shiny look highlighting its bronze color.

A beautiful pattern of non-protruding veins runs through the cigar’s length. The seams were meticulously sealed, concealing their existence to the eyes. Construction-wise, the Apehanger looks solid and has no weak points when squeezed. The band features an exquisite color scheme radiating simplicity and class.

As fine as the surface, its core possesses something impressive as well. Along with a Brazilian Arapiraca Binder, the cigar contains fillers from the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua. If CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger isn’t a work of art, I don’t know what is.

Before the light-up, my scent picks up sweet dried fruit, hay, dark chocolate, and cedar from the shaft. A precise incision performed by my punch cutter allows the cap to slide off easily, providing an excellent draw. Notes of cream, raisin, spice, and earth dominated the cold taste leaving a nice impression on the palate.


As I lit the foot, a thick layer of smoke revealed itself and cascaded the first hearty notes onto the tongue. The grassy, woodsy flavor coming from the aromatic coffee beans took control of the start. I can recognize a touch of white pepper in the background, giving a little kick to the blend. After another puff, sweetness, and creaminess oozed out from the wrapper, enriching every note I am able to taste.

Although the start delivered less spice than I expected, the retrohale didn’t disappoint my senses. As the smoke enters my nasal cavity, heat spreads like wildfire, causing me to tingle. At this phase, the burn on the edges and interior seems symmetrical, requiring no touch-ups.

With a little more time to open up, the Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger advanced to the medium-plus range. A robust peppery note began to emerge, satisfying my desire for something spicy. As I sip from my black coffee, cinnamons joined the blend giving off a sweet and woody taste. The earthy note I picked up from the cold draw rounded out and melded with leather, creating an interesting flavor combination.

Several reviews across the internet said that their Apehanger lack complexity, so I stored mine in my humidor for months, which was a good idea as it unleashed its true flavors. Towards the midpoint, the initially woodsy coffee became creamy. Meanwhile, the spice on the retrohale became distinct — a sweet and spicy red pepper.

When the last third settles in, the excellent construction of the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger was highlighted. The burn never made a detour and maintained a straight burn path. Slowly, the ember consumed the stick, leaving a tower of silvery ash. A minor change characterized the flavor profile. While the earth took the lead, the cedar lingers in the background. Toward the finish, spicy undertones appeared — ending the smoke with waves of heat.


Flathead Steel Horse

From a visual standpoint, the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger is truly an attractive piece. Although the cigar’s luster intrigues you at first glance, it’s the perfect box-pressed figure and flat cap that entice you to dig into it. Also, I like the simplicity and elegance of the band.

The construction was spot-on. Never did the wrapper threatens to crack nor unravel in my entire smoking experience. The cigar’s razor-sharp burn, good draw, and stellar smoke production made it well worth the $9.00 retail price. I give it a 92-point rating.

Overall, I found the Apehanger to be loaded with a great deal of depth. It starts out medium and gradually progresses to a nearly full spectrum. Additionally, it had great flavors. I highly recommend it both to novices and experts alike.

Will I smoke the CAO Flathead Steel Horse Apehanger again? Definitely.

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Glyn Caddell

Glyn Caddell