Within the world of tobacco, countless brands, manufacturers and owners coexist, all with interesting stories to tell. CAO is one of them.
With little time on the market, compared to centuries-old brands, CAO has stood out for its boldness that has known no limits to reach all the places where they can obtain the leaves with which they manufacture their innovative cigars.
The company motto, “WHERE TOBACCO GROWS, GOES CAO”, is a reality that is expressed by using tobacco grown in particular places around the world. For example, the jungles of the Amazon, the mountains of Colombia, the valleys of the Dominican Republic, the volcanoes of Nicaragua, even including Italy, Cameroon and many other places on the map. This allows them to have an extensive inventory that incorporates both common mixes and rare special blends, and offer a variety of opportunities to try new things.
A bit of history:
Cano Aret Ozgener, an Istanbul-born engineer, set up shop in his family garage in Nashville in 1968. There he sold meerschaum and briar pipes and humidors until, in 1995, when the cigar boom in the United States, began to produce cigars.
The company, which was called CAO International Inc., produced its first cigars in Honduras and Nicaragua, in the factories of Nestor Plasencia. They were hugely successful and in 1997 they reached US stores. Many more cigars were soon added, to the point that by 2004, they made seven brands: Gold, Brazilia, Criollo, Double Maduro (or MX2) and three versions of L'Anniversaire: Maduro, Cameroon and Extreme.
The company also marketed flavored cigars and several special lines, including the Black, a reincarnation of the original CAO, and a cigar they called the CAO 65th Anniversary Esen, made to honor Cano Ozgener 65th birthday. Thereafter, they focused primarily on premium cigars and the pipes became a very small percentage of the C.A.O. In 2005 they produced more than 8 million cigars that were sold in 70 countries.
Cano retired in 2007, but his original brand, which boldly incorporated different lines made from Brazilian and Italian tobacco, had already attracted the interest of the tobacco industry and was acquired by Henri Wintermans, a division of the company Scandinavian Tobacco Group. (STG). His son remained with the company, joining as company president before leaving in 2010.
After Swedish Match and STG Holdings merged in 2010, General Cigar Co. inherited CAO's entire portfolio of pre-existing brands. Today, this tobacco giant distributes the CAO brand and all its lines.