What a difference two years makes.
When we visited the Davidoff of Geneva USA booth at the 2013 IPCPR, the Camacho relaunch was in full swing and the AVO brand was continuing on much as it always had, if anything perhaps more quiet and reserved, especially compared to all the flash and panache of the Camacho section. One of the new releases that was planned for 2014 was the AVO Serenata. Slated to be a regular production cigar, it had three sizes lined up and a reasonable price point, staying under the $10 mark.
In 2014 it was announced that AVO Cigars was getting the same rebranding treatment that Camacho did, minus the reblending. Davidoff planned to update the look, the packaging, pricing – basically a complete overhaul of the brand – which included dropping the number of SKUs from 75 down to 37. One of the brands that got the axe was a cigar that never saw an actual release, the AVO Serenata. Looking back at what I originally had to say about the cigar, I’m thinking it might not be a huge loss to me, but I’ll have to see how the redux goes.
As with most AVO cigars I can remember smoking in recent memory, this one followed suit in terms of a mild body. While the flavors were light and more of a whisper than a shout, they still harmonized together really well for the most part. Only a couple of times during the cigar did some off flavors give me pause. Construction was overall very solid and only a couple of slight hiccups at the end marred what I would otherwise consider a flawless burn. The final third was really what brought my opinion of the cigar down a couple of notches, and saw the consistent change in the cigar across all three samples I smoked. Unfortunately that took it from something I would seek out regularly to something that I’ll only occasionally smoke. As always I suggest trying them out for yourself, but I also suggest keeping it at a five pack or less before you make your own mind up.
- Cigar Reviewed: AVO Serenata Robusto
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: O.K. Cigars
- Wrapper: Dominican Republic
- Binder: Mexican Sumatra
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Size: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $8.50 (Box of 20, $170)
- Release Date: Unreleased
- Number of Cigars Released: Unreleased
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Redux: 1
I’m pleased to see a very light dusting of plume on the Serenata as I start to inspect it. The medium brown wrapper has a soft and slightly oily feel to it, and when lightly squeezed I’m happy to see that the cigar has firmed up. The aroma hasn’t changed, with a light, sweet barnyard scent being really the only thing I detect. Spices, a touch of vanilla and some caramel make up the cold draw – a significantly different draw than the ammonia and pepper from two years ago.
Starting into the first third it’s not completely different than it was before, still sporting sweet vanilla notes, but there is a plethora of spices that weren’t there before, along with some leather and a very light earthy undertone. Spices and leather really take hold for the remainder of the third for a very pleasant profile. As the cigar shifts into the second third, the flavors shift as well, with hot cinnamon coming out of the generic spice note, along with the appearance of some cocoa while the leather, vanilla and earthiness from the first third mostly hanging out in the background. Moving into the final third it continues with the hot cinnamon, though not as strong as it had been, allowing the cocoa, leather, vanilla and earth to shine more, making a very nice, well rounded profile that stays smooth all the way to the end.
The Serenata starts out with a very solid and even burn line, perhaps just short of what I would call razor sharp, but definitely nothing to complain about. It seems to strive to keep that even line, because any slight waver in it gets corrected by itself without any intervention on my part. The draw is fantastic, right in the middle of the ideal range, and produces plenty of smoke with each puff. Ash retention is fantastic as well, densely holding on and even giving some resistance when I try to roll it off in my ashtray. The second third doesn’t see any change in the burn, continuing on at an even pace. As I’m part way through the final third, I do finally need to do one small touch up, as I want it to stay as even as possible going into the final inch.
Davidoff of Geneva USA advertises on halfwheel. Samples this review were provided to halfwheel at the 2013 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
If you had handed me an original sample and then a sample with two years of age on it to smoke side by side, I don’t think I would guess I was smoking the same cigar. For something that seemed mild and generally just having an okay profile, the time has done this cigar wonders. A multitude of flavors have shown up, probably thanks to some aging and the complete lack of pepper this time around. Lastly, the construction was great as well, minus a little touch-up that was needed in the final third. Thinking now about how this will never be released, I’m lamenting the fact I don’t have some more of these hidden away in my humidor. What a difference two years makes.