Review Of The CAO Flathead 450 Also Known As The SparkplugThe CAO Flathead 450, or the Sparkplug, is an addition to the third regular production line by master blender Rick Rodriguez. The initial release of this line had four vitolas at the 2013 IPCPR Tradeshow. This year the fifth vitola, a box-press robusto, was released and may be the finest addition to the line yet. 

At many of CAO’s events, influential people come together through a love of cigars, women and cars. It was Rick Rodriguez speaking on this coincidence which inspired the creation of the Flathead line. The company ingeniously offers a glimpse into a bygone-era of pin-ups, the Twist, and roaring hot rods through an ideal smoke. The stogie measures a short and stout 4-½ x 50. The body, strength, ring gauge, and overall smoking experience make it easy to grasp this cigar’s engine-inspired title. 

Each Sparkplug cigar comes individually packaged in what appears to be a real sixties era sparkplug box. It features striking silver pin-striping “Sparkplug” in black and tattoo style script. The name is on top of an outline of the actual engine. 

The CAO Flathead 450 is extremely striking. This short, powerful looking stogie features a box matching band offset brilliantly by a Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper. The binder tobacco is Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf, and the stick is a unique blend of Nicaraguan Seco and Ligero leaves. The overall combination of this stick is extremely unique. Both the Connecticut Broadleaf and Ecuadorian Connecticut leaves used were the first released by CAO since Rodriguez joined the company. This was also the first time Rodriguez has ever selected the tobaccos for any of his blends. The filler tobacco also gives a unique quality to each of the five vitolas. Depending on the ring gauge for each vitola, Rodriguez elected to alter the mixture of Ligero and Seco leaves to change the overall emphasis. The longer and bigger vitolas offer a combination given to a smooth-medium smoke emphasizing the taste. The ones such as the 450 would be a fuller, stronger cigar with a delicious, simple taste and a nice kick. 

This dark, cocoa colored stick has gorgeous marbling. There are several apparent veins and seams and a sweet, oily sheen over the entirety of the stogie. It smells fresh and woodsy with a hint of spice and the pre-light draw tastes of earthy, fresh coffee beans and strengthens the spicy bouquet. When taking the first drag, the palate is nicely soaked in the taste of strong, dry espresso and the taste of spice. This stogie does not just offer a stinging kick, but masterfully captures the taste of black pepper with a hint of cinnamon. Reviewer's state in the second-third the espresso flavor reaches a slight sweetness bordering on mocha. The spices slightly faded to the background as a supporting taste. Towards the halfway point, the earthy aroma was now quickly gaining strength. By the end of the second-third, reviewers note that the mocha tastes had also receded, and the stick became a wonderfully nutty blend backed by spiced mocha.  The spices gained a new strength coupled nicely with fresh mixed nuts, teased and sweetened by a coffee background all the way to the nub. 

The burn of the Sparkplug 450 was as excellent as the strength and flavor. The burn line may require one or two touch-ups but will remain true. The smoking was wonderfully drawn out. The salt and pepper ash held quite firmly, and even given such a stout shape, the drag was never overbearing or loose. Reviewers agree that this stick was indeed medium to full in both strength and body and noticeably stronger than the other vitolas. Rodriguez has achieved complete success in his concept of varying each blend to obtain a particular emphasis. The CAO Flathead 450 is an amazingly well-crafted cigar that offers not an overly complex profile, but a simple expert taste, perfect punch, and delivers aficionados something to admire and an era to dream of.

POSTED ON Oct 14, 2017


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