Aging Review of Original CAO America Cigar
By: Gary Manelski
CAO was once an independent cigar company, founded by Cano Aret Ozgener (C.A.O.) way back in 1968. When the CAO America Cigar was introduced in 2007, the company was owned by Henri Wintermans, and Cano's son Tim Ozgener was president of CAO. CAO aggressively marketed its new America cigar, which is even made with some tobaccos from the USA. The cigar still supports very patriotic looking red, white and blue bands, and is not only very popular with veterans and active troops, but also with U.S. citizens celebrating American holidays, especially Memorial Day and Independence Day.
CAO America is made with both Connecticut Shade and Broadleaf wrappers, which are rolled to create a pinstripe appearance, as opposed to some other double-wrapped cigars that look more like a barber pole. The binder is Brazilian, and the filler tobaccos are from Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Italy and USA. In 2007, CAO posted the video, Making An American Cigar, which was narrated by Tim Ozgener and is still available to view online.
Today, CAO is part of the General Cigar Company. CAO America cigars are still available in three sizes, including the Monument (6¼ x 54) that is the subject of this review. However, the cigar being reviewed here is an original CAO America Monument cigar, which had been aging in a humidor for about 9½ years as of this writing (March 2017). In my original 2007 review, I sampled both the Monument and Potomac vitolas, and rated them both with 4 stars.
Did almost 10 years of aging result in a noticeable improvement? Let's find out.
The CAO America Monument cigar began with sweet and peppery flavors. These flavors gradually became less intense as a medium-to-full bodied earthy taste revealed itself during the first 10 minutes. Beyond that point, the cigar started to get smoother as a more leathery taste gradually became the predominate flavor. The cigar had a great draw, held a long ash, and had a mostly even burn. However, a couple of minor touch-up lights were applied during the 60 minutes that it took me to smoke the cigar down to about two inches remaining. Although one relight was needed, it was about 10 minutes before the cigar went out at the end, with just over two inches left.
And now for my verdict. I still rate the CAO America with 4 points on a 5-point scale, even after 9½ years of aging. This is just one example that all cigars do not improve with age, and some might even lose their flavor after a number of years. Although the CAO America is still a good value (a box of 20 sells for under $100), they are not worth aging for almost 10 years in hopes of a significant improvement. However, do not be discouraged if a particular cigar does not age very well, even after waiting several years. A completely different cigar that I aged for 4½ years in the same humidor recently earned a perfect 5-point rating.