It took some 16 years before the words AVO and lancero were able to be said in the same sentence when referring to an actual cigar release, but the wait was well worth it.
As I noted in my original review of the AVO Heritage Lancero, there’s no good reason why the two have never come together; it just seems to be something that has never happened. The union of brand and vitola finally happened in 2014, a year of the beginnings of a transition for the brand that would ultimately result in a trimming of the portfolio, a focus on brick-and-mortar retailers and an eventual rebranding of the remaining lines.
While the AVO brand made its global debut in 1988, the Heritage brand didn’t appear until the 2010 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show, and has become a regular fixture in many retail humidors. The line was billed as the strongest AVO release to date, debuting in four sizes—Churchill, Robusto, Toro and Short Robusto—while a Short Torpedo was added in 2011 and a Short Corona and the 6 x 60 Special Toro joined the line in 2012. In addition to its flavor profile, it also gained prominence for its price, with all of the sizes costing under $10 per stick when the line was launched.
Here’s what I said about the AVO Heritage Lancero when I reviewed it in October 2014:
While the call for smaller ring gauges is one frequently bellowed on this site, it’s been shown that smaller is not always better. But that’s simply not the case here, as the lancero vitola helps the AVO Heritage blend shine from nearly start to finish. While billed as the strongest cigar bearing an AVO band, this isn’t a strong cigar, but rather is balanced and aromatic with pepper providing some kick and helping to push the cigar forward. After three of these, and looking back at just how affordable they are, the only thing that the AVO Heritage Lancero left me wondering was why it hadn’t been made sooner.
- Cigar Reviewed: AVO Heritage Lancero
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: O.K. Cigars
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown
- Binder: Dominican Republic Vicente
- Filler: Dominican Republic Ligero & Seco, Peruvian Seco
- Size: 7 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 40
- Vitola: Lancero
- MSRP: $8 (Boxes of 20, $160)
- Release Date: Sept. 3, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (50,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Redux: 1
Even with the metallic notes in the AVO Heritage Lancero’s band, it’s a fairly matte and muted look for the cigar, though it does have a certain appeal. The band and earthy, almost dusty colored wrapper match well, offering complimenting hues of brown with accents of cream, black and a rose gold or light copper on the former. There’s a fair amount of visual texture on the wrapper despite having generally small and limited veins; the leaf offers a subtle network of veins that remind me a bit of sunlight glistening off a swimming pool: not necessarily straight but all perfectly interconnected. It feels like a well rolled cigar, a bit on the soft side but not underfilled and uniform from head to foot. The foot offers a neutral aroma of wheat bread and almonds, with the cold draw just a touch firm and presenting a hearty peanut butter note with just a touch of pepper lingering deep in the background.
With the peanut butter note fresh on my mind from the cold draw, it seems that the first puffs of the AVO Heritage Lancero are doing their best to bring it to life, warming it ever so slightly, while the retrohale brings in the wheat bread note I picked up in the nose and the two merge literally as perfect as the foods they have me thinking about. White pepper become a touch more prominent in the first quarter of an inch, with the cigar burning straight and even, revealing a very light gray and well-formed ash. Unfortunately, it falls off fairly quickly and seemingly without prompting, probably around the half-inch mark. With the first nugget of ash gone, the smoke builds up nicely, getting a touch thicker, a touch warmer and a touch more peppery, all in near perfect balance. The pepper continues to increase by slight amounts through the first half, something that I don’t necessarily think is needed from a flavor perspective, but is done with careful restraint and without upsetting the overall balance of the cigar. It does push the peanut butter note to the background a bit, something I was really finding favor with due to its slightly oily sweetness, and something I hope returns before the cigar is laid to rest. The retrohales are also picking up more of the pepper, costing it a bit of smoothness for additional stimulation on the insides of the nose.
The pepper’s steady building in prominence continues across the midway point, and while I don’t think the cigar needed as much of a shift from where it started, I’m not arguing with it. The draw has been phenomenal, and there seems to be a near flawless arrangement between the flavor and how often it calls me back for another puff with the rate of puffing needed to keep the cigar burning at its optimal rate. For a lancero this cigar is almost perfect in terms of combustion and burn, never forcing a rushed puffing rate and never requiring an extended period of rest. There’s a shift to a bit of chalky earth in the final two inches as the black pepper seems to have run its course, giving the AVO Heritage Lancero one final turn before it runs its course.
Given how much I enjoyed the AVO Heritage Lancero when I smoked it ten months ago, I had fairly high hopes for how it would smoke for a redux, and fortunately the answer is simple: fantastic. The only thing I didn’t like about the AVO Hertiage Lancero was the ash’s unwillingness to hold on for more than the shortest of spans, though if that’s all I have to complain about for an otherwise fantastic cigar, I’ll gladly take that without a single word more.