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As has become tradition, March means the release of the annual AVO Limited Edition release, which debuts around Avo Uvezian’s birthday, March 22.

Once again, the release is centered around the pianist’s long career with 88 symbolizes not only Uvezian’s age, but also the keys on typical piano. The cigars are packaged 16 to a box—eight plus eight—inside high gloss piano finish rectangular boxes.

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As for the belicosos, they are a Dominican puro with a wrapper from Yamasá, an olor criollo binder and piloto viso, piloto ligero, San Vicente ligero, corojo olor and criollo fillers.

AVO 88 Box 1

 

AVO 88 Box 2

AVO 88 Box 3

AVO 88 Box 4

AVO 88 Box 5

AVO 88 Box 6

There are 8,888 boxes, with Uvezian signing 888 of them, including the one sent to us. There are also 1,888 limited edition ashtrays and 488 miniature grand piano displays for retail.

The cigars were released on March 20 at an event at the Grand Havana Room and then begin shipping to other retailers. It is the 13th release in the AVO Limited Edition series.

AVO 88 Limited Edition 2014 1
  • Cigar Reviewed: AVO Limited Edition 2014 88
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: O.K. Cigars
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic (Yamasá)
  • Binder: Dominican Olor Criollo
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto Viso, Piloto Ligero, San Vicente Ligero, Corojo/Olor, Criollo)
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Belicoso
  • MSRP: $16 (Boxes of 16, $256)
  • Date Released: March 20, 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: 8,888 Boxes of 16 Cigars (142,208 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 4

The AVO 88 has a proportionally short point as far as the typical belicoso and it’s also a bit more pronounced than average. It shows a nice earth color with a decent bit of oil and I can pick up some earth and barnyard notes from the outside of the Dominican tobaccos. From the cold draw I get a sweet muted citrus, some nice hickory notes and even touches of candied blueberry, all around medium.

It begins with lemon grass, a hearty cedar and some spice with cedar on the finish. While the AVO 88 can be open at times, it does seem once the cigar is burning the draw gets more centered. The first third has sweet hickory, oranges, nuttiness and a grassy finish. I get some sweet plum through the nose as well on two of the samples. It’s a lot bolder than I would have expected in the flavor, yet only around medium in strength at this point.

AVO 88 Limited Edition 2014 2

At some point in the first two inches of every AVO 88 I smoked the burn got off. It was in varying degrees, but unavoidable each time. As for the flavor, the second third shows much more meatiness with some citrus and salty notes underneath. There’s a creaminess that is present in those that transitions into a nice nuttiness as the finish picks up. Strength picks up quite a bit and is now solidly medium-full, very strong for an AVO.

AVO 88 Limited Edition 2014 3

Both the physical cigar and the flavors soften up in the final third. The sweet hickory note that is present in the first third remains with the nuttiness, but the creaminess is gone. An added harshness might make you wonder about my observation of softness, but that’s solely describing the sharpness of the flavors, which is way down. Not every sample showed pepper in the final third, but it was the only place it was going to be for me. Strength ends just shy of full, way stronger than I expected.

AVO 88 Limited Edition 2014 4

Final Notes

  • The AVO Limited Edition is always a pretty big release, but in 2012 it was 100,000, as compared to this year’s release which tops 140,000.
  • If you don’t take enough off the cigar, it feels much larger than a 52 in the mouth.
  • The draw was always on the open side, but outside of the cold draw it was well within the acceptable range.
  • The boxes are piano-themed, not piano-shaped like the AVO 25th.
  • If you are getting confused by the numbers, don’t feel bad. Eighty-eight is to celebrate Uvezian’s age, 25 was to celebrate the anniversary of the brand, 22 was for the day of his birthday, the day he left the Middle East and the day he arrived in the U.S.
  • Back to the boxes—they are super impressive. While not revolutionary, the quality is extremely high. Davidoff has been on a roll of late with its packaging, this is no exception.
  • The cigars were packed in cellophane, we removed them for the photography.
  • This is the fullest AVO I’ve smoked to date.
  • It has been hinted that this will be a big year for the AVO brand.
  • I am a huge fan of the AVO logos, however, the 88 does remind me a bit of a super logo.
  • Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by AVO.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 35 minutes on average.
  • AVO is made and distributed by Oettinger Davidoff Group, Davidoff Cigars is a site sponsor.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar has the AVO 88 in stock.
88 Overall Score

This was not the cleanest cigar I’ve smoked from Davidoff of late. While I really enjoyed a lot of the flavor, there was a detail that just was not there in the four samples I smoked, particularly given how great some Davidoff-made cigars have been lately. I think with maybe a bit of rest—perhaps as little as a few weeks—the cigar will overcome this, I just hope that it happens before the strength disappears. I was really impressed in the balance that was at play between the strength and flavor, something where the latter normally dominates the former in the case of Eladio Diaz and Henke Kelner, with the AVO 88—Davidoff reminded us it can make a pretty full cigar without using its Honduran factory. It’s a good cigar, not legendary like the AVO 22, but I think we haven’t seen the best from this cigar.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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