If there has been one company that I would guess we’ve written more stories about that involved some form of bringing back a cigar from the past, it would be Davidoff of Geneva USA.
There’s good reason for that, as in late 2017 the company launched its Vault program, by which it releases several of its former limited editions and other rarities every year. But the company has also brought back previous releases from its other brands such as AVO.
In January 2021, the company announced that its AVO Classic line would be getting a limited edition belicoso, a size that it had not had in its portfolio since 2005. The 6 x 48 vitola with the pointed head returned with just 2,000 boxes of 25 cigars produced for the U.S. There were additional cigars made for the rest of the world, though the company never disclosed just how many that was.
As for the blend, it is the same as the rest of the sizes in the AVO Classic line, meaning an Ecuadorian Connecticut sun grown wrapper over a Dominican binder and Dominican fillers. As for those other, regular production sizes, there are eight of them:
- AVO Classic No. 2 (6 x 50)
- AVO Classic No. 3 (7 1/2 x 50)
- AVO Classic No. 5 (6 3/4 x 46)
- AVO Classic No. 6 (6 x 60)
- AVO Classic No. 9 (4 3/4 x 48)
- AVO Classic Piramides (7 x 54)
- AVO Classic Puritos (4 x 30)
- AVO Classic Robusto (5 x 50)
“For over 25 years, the AVO Classic has pleased consumers with its consistently smooth yet flavorful blending and flawless construction” said Lana Fraser, director of marketing and retail for Davidoff of Geneva USA, in a press release. “The Belicoso shape further intensifies the flavor delivered in this blend while maintaining the mild, creamy character you’ve come to expect and appreciate from AVO Classic.”
The MSRP is set at $12 per cigar, before taxes, with the cigar arriving at stores in February.
- Cigar Reviewed: AVO Classic Belicoso (2021)
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: O.K. Cigars
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Belicoso
- MSRP: $12 (Box of 25, $300)
- Release Date: February 2021
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes of 25 Cigars (50,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The AVO Classic Belicoso has an interesting mix of matte and shiny colors; the wrapper and base of the band both fall into the former category, while the gold parts of the band make up the latter. The wrapper leaf is a nutty shade of brown with some darker hues around the veins. The seams—when visible—reveal what color variance the leaf can have, though they are nearly invisible on one sample, and the thickness of the leaf seems to play a role in that as well. There are also some sparkly spots on the wrapper, though I’m a bit more inclined to think they are specks from the band as opposed to crystallization. It’s a fairly firm cigar that looks to be rolled well from a visual perspective; what catches my eye is the way the head is finished by way of a little bit of folded over tobacco. Since it’s going to get clipped off anyway I really couldn’t care less, but it isn’t the perfectly smooth finish that I’ve seen elsewhere. The aroma from the foot reminds me a bit of a cappuccino or latte; it’s a mix of creaminess, coffee and a bit of nuttiness but little if any pepper. There’s also a bit of vanilla sweetness to be found, in some ways reminding me of ice cream but without the chilling effect, other times reminding me of yogurt or pudding. Even with a small clip of the head air moves well, carrying a lighter flavor profile that has some creaminess and a flavor I often refer to as cake donut, though I could also make the case for some sort of white muffin. There are a few times when I get peanut or hazelnut, and others where I get a bit of wood, though those flavors seem to require a bit of an extended cold draw.
The AVO Classic Belicoso starts about as I would expect for a typical AVO profile, meaning a light woodiness, a bit of white pepper, a good amount of Dominican terroir and a light but not unsubstantial flavor and body. As I ponder the flavors, I notice the ash is about as close to white as I can remember among recent cigars, something that doesn’t affect much in terms of this review, but a reminder that cigars can look quite different both before burning and after. There isn’t much sweetness in the early going, though at times the cigar feels like its trying to find some, with just a bit of apple the most recognizable. Flavor is what I’d call a very AVO-esque medium, distinct and palate coating if not overwhelming. It’s certainly familiar and agreeable, if not necessarily dynamic or overly complex. Body is a tick lighter than medium, while strength thus far is quite mild. Construction is very good with an even burn line and plenty of smoke.
There’s a bit more pepper to be found as the AVO Classic Belicoso begins its second third, and now the offering is a bit more black pepper dominant with a bit of white pepper still around. The flavor is beginning to pivot a bit more towards a wood-forward profile; dry with a bit of peanut oiliness. At times it reminds me of a PayDay candy bar, though without the caramel sweetness. By the midpoint, the cigar is still woody and rich with Dominican terroir, a loamy flavor that is a bit dry and surprisingly complex. The pepper has settled down a bit, with that terroir note taking its place. What I find interesting is that even though the flavor is on the dry side, my mouth doesn’t feel dried out by the smoke one bit. Retrohales through the middle of the cigar are at a high point, offering a bit of white pepper, some creaminess and just a bit of chalky earth on the finish. Flavor increases up into medium-plus territory, body is closer to medium and strength is shy of medium but a bit more noticeable than what the first third offered. Construction remains outstanding and problem-free in all areas.
It’s not long into the final third that I notice the flavor beginning to change, picking up a damp woodiness that adds some lushness to the profile, even though it seems to come with just the slightest bit of sour soup flavor. It’s a flavor I find in Vietnamese and Thai cooking, and while enjoyable, it seems a bit out of place here. That turns into a bit of chalkiness, which is definitely out of place, and not something the cigar was in need of, even though the slight chalkiness found in the retrohale earlier wasn’t a problem. It’s an interesting change for a cigar that is known for being on the milder, creamier sides of the spectrum, as neither is really the case at the moment. It’s not strong, but the flavors hit the palate with a bit more energy than they did earlier, and the creaminess is having a hard time standing out among the other flavors, which are now noticeably sharper than earlier. In the moments where things are a bit more on track, there is still some of the oily peanut flavor from earlier as well as some creaminess, which makes for a good closing note for an overall enjoyable cigar. Unfortunately, that’s not a consistent finish, only showing up really well in one sample, with the other two needing to have the case for their flavor made for them rather than doing it on their own. Construction and combustion have both been very good if not excellent, with all three samples offering an even burn line and good smoke production.
- The AVO Classic line is also offered in a maduro version, which uses a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper over a Dominican binder and fillers, including tobacco said to be 25-years-old in the filler.
- The AVO Classic Maduro was also one that falls into the category of having been brought back. The line had been discontinued in 2015, brought back as a limited edition in 2018, and then brought back again as a regular production line in 2020.
- That was the first blend that Avo Uvezian worked on with Hendrik “Henke” Kelner before either was involved with Davidoff.
- Avo Uvezian died on March 24, 2017, two days after his 91st birthday. His life certainly seemed extraordinary, to say the least.
- Uvezian was featured in halfwheel’s Portraits Series in March 2013.
- There is minimal strength to be found in the AVO Classic Belicoso. From my experience with three samples of the cigar, I can’t imagine many people would have issues with the nicotine strength of this cigar.
- Davidoff of Geneva USA advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was right about two hours on average, though one cigar smoked a good bit faster than the other two.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
The AVO Classic blend is one that I hope pretty much every cigar smoker has had at least once, and ideally has had a few times among the various sizes offered. It’s a staple in many retail humidors for a reason: it’s approachable, easy to enjoy, and offers decent complexity and balance. I’m not sure that I would call the Belicoso version any more intense than the other sizes in the line; and while I could make the case that the tapered head focuses the smoke a bit more onto the palate, but I think that for the majority of people who smoke this the effect is negligible. But what shouldn’t be overlooked is that this is still a solid blend that is worth revisiting from time to time, as this limited edition is a reminder that a regular production line can still make for a very enjoyable cigar.