It’s all fun and games until someone messes around with a blend and winds up creating a 95-rated monster that changes the game for everyone.
CAO Cigars were founded by Cano (pronounced JOHN-no) Aret Ozgener, who once upon a time was just a humble tobacco enthusiast like you or me. In fact, he didn’t even start off with cigars – it was the pipes of his homeland that drew him in. Ozgener was born in Istanbul in 1937. There, he studied mechanical engineering, and eventually, he took a job in the US as an engineer.
One day, he came across some Turkish “meerschaum” pipes, which are made from a clay-like mineral called sepiolite. Ozgener he had an engineer’s reaction to these pipes: he saw everything that was wrong with their design. He decided to make better ones, and the tobacco world started exerting its powerful gravitational pull. When on vacation from his salaried job at DuPont, he would go to trade shows with his pipes and meet more and more cigar makers. He enjoyed cigars quite a lot, and would frequently get pre-embargo Cubans from a tobacconist back in New York City. As he recalls, you could light one up in a theater and smoke while you watched a movie.
It was a different time.
Eventually, the pipe business went through a downcycle, but the cigar business came roaring back in the 90s. Ozgener, the son of a jeweler, set about making really nice humidors to capture all those wonderful new smokes people were hoarding. In 1993, he met Nestor Plasencia and finally got around to making a cigar blend of his own. The CAO Honduran line came out two years later, followed by the CAO Gold Robusto, which featured Nicaraguan tobacco. The decades rolled by, people came and went, and eventually CAO Chief Blender Rick Rodriguez put together the Flathead cigar, which Cigar Aficionado called the #3 Cigar of 2015. It is joined by CAO cigars grouped into New Age, World, Classic, and Flavour categories – so there’s a lot to explore here.
Now, Cano’s daughter Aylin Ozgener-Sherman and son Murat have their hands full with a company that is full of promising and inventive ideas.
After all, the desire to improve on flawed designs is in their DNA.
Please browse our selection of CAO cigars at your leisure.