It never ceases to amaze me how quickly things not only get in the rearview mirror but also seemingly fall out of the rearview mirror.
In 2018, the AVO brand celebrated its 30th anniversary, and as would be expected, a number of cigars were either released or brought back for the festivities. Among the cigars coming back were a pair of its most sought-after limited editions, the AVO 22 and AVO LE05, along with the AVO Maduro and AVO Signature, two lines discontinued in 2015 when Davidoff of Geneva USA trimmed the AVO portfolio in half as part of the brand’s overhaul but brought back in limited productions.
As for the new cigar, that was the AVO Improvisation 30 Years. It too was a limited edition, with just 2,400 boxes of 25 cigars being produced.
The cigar drew the inspiration for its blend from the AVO Classic No. 3, with Davidoff of Geneva USA calling the new cigar a twist on that blend. In practical terms, that means an Ecuadorian marron wrapper, Dominican binder and Dominican fillers, while the Classic uses a Connecticut shade wrapper over a Dominican binder and filler. Both cigars share a 7 1/2 x 50 vitola.
The cigar also gets a secondary band that was used on multiple lines, a orange-trimmed, cream colored band with a gold 30 in the middle, flanked by the years 1988 and 2018. Additionally, the box features a pattern designed to look like the straw hat that became the signature of Avo Uvezian, who passed away in March 2017, complete with an orange stripe reminiscent of the hat’s band.
Here’s what I said about the AVO Improvisation 30 Years when I reviewed it in April 2018:
The AVO Improvisation 30 Years is certainly a cigar with abundant transitions and parts to it, and while I love complexity and progression in a cigar, the high point that this cigar sets makes its other parts truly pale in comparison. From about the one inch mark through just past the midpoint, the cigar is nuanced, incredibly creamy, and just peppery enough to offer stimulation for the nose and tongue. Past that point, however, the cigar gets dry and toasty before turning charred and stinging. Yet even with that less than ideal finish, you wouldn’t have to ask me twice to smoke another one, as the first half is just that good, and a great cigar to smoke in memory of Avo Uvezian.
- Cigar Reviewed: AVO Improvisation 30 Years
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: O.K. Cigars
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Marron)
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Length: 7 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Double Robusto
- MSRP: $16 (Box of $25, $400)
- Release Date: March 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,400 Boxes of 25 Cigars (60,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1
For me, the first thing I notice about the AVO Improvisation 30 Years is its size, but more importantly what the size represents, which is the season between the relative cold of winter and the heat of summer in Phoenix, as I know that I wouldn’t be reaching for a double robusto in either of those times. The wrapper is a lightly tanned shade that reminds me of graham crackers though I could also make the case for a latte or toffee. It’s a well-rolled cigar, though it the wrapper does show some veins the layer below, as well as contributing a few thin veins itself. The cigar appears to be rolled and capped well, but a physical inspection reveals more give than I am comfortable finding. The aroma off the foot is interesting and engaging, almost herbal in a sense but not as fragrant. There’s just a pinch of white pepper on what I want to describe as a bready, doughy base, but where I struggle is with what lies in the middle. The cold draw is a bit loose and the flavor offers a buttered white bread dinner roll, with less pepper than the aroma and just a hint of sweetness.
Even with a slightly open draw, the fullness and softness of the smoke mitigate the effects a bit. There’s just a touch of white pepper in the profile that manages to stand out, but it’s the creaminess of the first puffs that are the main draw. In the first inch, it definitely has me thinking that this would fall into the category of being a morning cigar, meaning an easy to smoke profile with just enough pepper to wake the palate up a bit. There’s also plenty of smoke in the first third, as thick clouds of white smoke emanate from the cigar with each puff. Towards the end of the first third there is a bit more vibrance as the profile picks up just a pinch of black pepper, though the core of the flavor doesn’t change drastically. Pepper continues to pick up as the burn line approaches the midway point, though most of it is white pepper, which brightens and lightens the overall profile. The smoke—which is still plentiful—is also coming across a bit warmer than it was earlier. At the midway point, the flavor medium-minus, an increase from where it started, body is medium to medium-plus, and strength is mild.
The build in pepper continues into the start of the second half, though the creaminess begins to match it, so the net effect is a fuller bodied smoke with more tingle for the senses, but still far from what it might be without the buffer. There are a few puffs where everything is in remarkable harmony, a seeming duet of two key components that works out quite well, before a sudden change driven by the pepper that turns things rough and aggressive on the palate. There’s now more black pepper in the smoke, and on several puffs it gets hot and charred, neither of which sits well in the throat. After a brief respite, the final inch or so brings on a woody bite for the very tip of my tongue, which is a pretty clear sign that it’s time to put the cigar in the bottom of the ashtray. The burn, draw and smoke production are all great, and my only real issue is the thinness of the wrapper, which can present a challenge when removing the bands. Flavor finishes out at medium-plus, body at medium, and strength making a late charge to right around medium.
While I praised my original encounter with the AVO Improvisation 30 Years for its nuance and transitions, those two things appear to no longer be part of the cigar's offerings. Instead, the cigar sets an easy, creamy flavor profile pretty early on and holds onto it through its first half, then gradually introduces more pepper until the balance gets thrown off around the start of the final third, something that remains even with two years of rest. It's an interesting new position that the cigar finds itself in, as while the first half is still enjoyable—albeit for different reasons—the second half shows the same issues it had initially. If I had more of these sitting around, I'm not exactly sure what I'd do with them. In some regards, the drop in nuance and complexity would make me want to smoke them more regularly, while some lingering hope that the final third might get better would encourage me to give them a bit more time while acknowledging that the best parts might not survive. All in all, I'm a bit less enthralled by the AVO Improvisation 30 Years, though I still found a good bit both to enjoy and celebrate the life of Avo Uvezian.