Blending, fermenting, package design−a lot goes into creating new cigars. But if you want the abridged version of our art, the cliff notes, it would be this: we listen to our fans; we learn as much as we can about what they like in life and in cigars; then we use it to create smokes that they’ll love.
That’s one reason why we host events for our fans and why we launch contests like Last Stick Standing. It lets your voice be heard−your feedback, your preferences, your honest (sometimes brutally so) opinions. And then we take all that information back home, where our small creative team begins brainstorming the next great CAO cigar.
So when you light up a CAO, give yourself a pat on the back. You helped make it.
When we sit down to brainstorm, we know we have two aces up our sleeves, two advantages that many other cigar brands just don’t have: a license to do anything and the leaves to pull it off.
We have no restrictions on the type of tobacco we can use, the countries it can come from, or the packaging we can put it in. And we also have the largest inventory of tobacco and best access to rare, small-batch leaves in the business.
That means we can do things that no one has tried before.
Like making Brazilia and Italia, the first cigars of their kind to feature tobacco from Brazil and Italy.
Like creating Flathead, the cigar with a muscle car theme and a completely new style of rolling.
Like blending Angry Santa and Evil Snowman, which, really, was all just about having fun.
Free reign. We have it, and we couldn’t have it any other way.
PASSING ON THE ART
Once we have our ideas, we bring them to our factory in Estelì, Nicaragua. Many of the artisans there have been with us for decades. They can roll cigars of any size or shape, from the simplest to the most difficult. They know how to adjust the fermentation process to get the most out of any tobacco, from the tried and true varieties to unique, small-batch leaves. Their knowledge and experience ensures that every CAO you light up has the same high quality as, well, every other CAO you’ve ever lit up.
Many of them start at CAO in the same way. When we have an opening, we ask our employees if any of their relatives would like to join the team. For many, working at the factory has become a family tradition.
When they arrive on the first day, they enter a world of rigorous training, where our experienced workers teach them our way of making cigars from the ground up. They learn bunching first, and how the buncher and roller must work in unison with perfect timing and rhythm. Only once they master that can they move on to more advanced techniques. Everyone starts at the beginning, at the lowest rung on the ladder. In the factory, you have to prove yourself before you can move up.
Of course, their learning never really stops. It takes years to master the art. But gradually they learn more and more, they work their way up, and one day they’re students no more. They become the teachers, and the art gets passed on.