Since 2001, the AVO brand has released a specific limited edition cigar to celebrate its namesake’s birthday on March 22, and over the years, that lineup has included some legendary cigars.
Late last year, Davidoff announced plans to not only rebrand the AVO line, but also to slim down the number of releases in the portfolio, essentially cutting it in half. As part of that effort, it was revealed that there would be no AVO birthday release this year; instead, a new limited edition brand would be released. Dubbed the AVO Improvisation Series, the new series gets its name from the improvised nature of jazz.
The first release in the AVO Improvisation Series is the AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition, a 6 x 50 toro that incorporates the Ecuadorian 702 wrapper, a San Andrés binder from Mexico, along with ligero from two different countries: Ometempe, Nicaragua and piloto ligero, San Vicente ligero, hybrid corojo/olor ligero and criollo ligero filler from the Dominican Republic. The MSRP for each cigar is $16, and it is sold in boxes of 16, with only 3,500 boxes produced.
- Cigar Reviewed: AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: O.K. Cigars
- Wrapper: Ecuador 702
- Binder: Mexican San Andrés
- Filler: Nicaragua (Ometempe) and Dominican Republic (piloto ligero, San Vicente ligero, hybrid corojo/olor ligero and criollo)
- Size: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $16 (Box of 16, $256)
- Date Released: April 13, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: 3,500 Boxes of 16 (56,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 4
Covered in a deep mocha brown wrapper that ha quite a bit of tooth to it, the AVO Classic Covers also exhibits some very obvious oil as well as numerous veins running up and down the length. The cigar is slightly spongy when squeezed and seems to be very well rolled. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of manure, barnyard, oak, chocolate and coffee, while the cold drab brings distinct flavors of hay, wood, leather, almonds and espresso, along with a touch of sweetness.
Right off the bat, the AVO Classic Covers has a dominant combination of oak and mushrooms, along with lesser flavors of almonds, hay, bitter espresso and toast. The profile is extremely creamy overall and I can taste a very slight sweetness trying to break through, although it is not quite up to the task in the first third. Smoke production is above average, and there is a nice amount of white pepper on the retrohale for the first few puffs, although it calms down somewhat after that and is relegated the the background. Both the burn and draw are excellent so far, with the burn being the standout, while the strength level is barely noticeable, and ends the first third well below the medium mark.
Thankfully, that almost overpowering musky mushroom flavor from the first third of the AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition rapidly dissipates around the start of the second third, becoming a background note in an almost astonishingly short amount of time. In its place is a combination of almonds, oak, hay, tea leaves, white chocolate and leather, along with a growing amount of nutmeg sweetness. The profile is still quite creamy overall, especially on the finish, and there is an increasing amount of white pepper on the retrohale as well. Both the burn and the draw continue to impress, and the smoke production remains relatively high. Strength-wise, the AVO has some trouble hitting the medium mark, but comes close before the second third draws to an end.
The final third of the AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition brings the entire profile together, staring with that same overt creaminess, as well as flavors of almonds, cinnamon, oak, leather, espresso, tea leaves and a touch of a floral note. The nutmeg sweetness from the second third is still very present, but the white pepper on the retrohale has diminished slightly, as has the smoke production. The draw is still excellent and while the burn line has wavered a bit this close to the end, it is not bad enough to touch up. The overall strength finally hits the medium mark—barely—by the time I put the nub down with less than an inch left.
- Over the years, I have long been a fan of most of the AVO packaging, and the Classic Covers is no exception, with the combination of the bronze highlights in the band along with the cream background matching quite nicely with the color of the wrapper, not to mention the box that includes etchings to make it look like a record. If “classy, but understated” was what they were going for, they nailed it.
- I photographed a portrait of Avo Uvezian back in March 2014 for halfwheel’s Portrait Series. I came away from my lengthy conversation with him thinking he was one of the most interesting men I have ever met, and anyone who has not read up on his history should do so.
- For what it is worth, Avo’s birthday is on March 22, and mine is on March 25.
- There could be another Improvisation Series release later this year.
- The Ecuadorian 702 wrapper is a Ecuadoran hybrid that comes from three Cuban seed that has been used before in Davidoff blends, most notably in the AVO Limited Edition 2012 La Trompeta,the Davidoff Limited Edition 2009 Selección 702 and the Davidoff 2013 Year of the Snake. It was also used as a binder in the Zino “Embassy Selection” 2011.
- The ash on this release is noticeably flaky, and rare held on for more than half-inch before small chances started falling off at any given time.
- The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 45 minutes.
- The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by AVO Cigars, who advertises on the site.
- If you would like to purchase any of the AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition cigars, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar and JR Cigar have them in stock, while Cigar Hustler, Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136), Emerson’s Cigars, Serious Cigars and Stogies World Class Cigars are all AVO dealers.
I have enjoyed the vast majority of the releases in the AVO brand—in fact, I have absolutely loved a couple of them—and the Classic Covers falls firmly in the middle of that group for me: incredibly smooth and well blended, but with some flavors in the first third that prevented it from putting it over the edge. The profile really picked up starting in the second third, losing that pervasive musky mushroom note that I am not a fan of and replacing it almost totally with a wonderful combination of creamy almonds, nutmeg sweetness and oak that I really enjoyed. It would have received a much better score without the first third, but even with that, the AVO Classic Covers is easily good enough to recommend buying.