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The AVO brand is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and that can only mean one thing: there will be some new cigars to smoke.

As part of the festivities, the company has announced that it is bringing back a pair of its most sought-after limited editions, the AVO 22 and AVO LE05. Also back, although as limited productions, are 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.

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In addition, it is debuting a new cigar, the AVO Improvisation 30 Years. It too is a limited edition, with just 2,400 boxes of 25 cigars being produced.

The AVO Improvisation 30 Years gets its inspiration from the AVO Classic No. 3, with Davidoff of Geneva USA calling it a twist on that cigar, with 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.

While the banding of the cigar looks fairly familiar for the AVO line, including the 30th anniversary secondary band that is being used on many of the releases, the box is where the cigar pays its true homage to Avo Uvezian, who passed away in March 2017. Each of the white boxes features a pattern designed to mimic the straw hat that became Uvezian’s signature accessory, with the orange stripe across the box a nod to the texture of the hat.

  • 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 (Boxes 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 Review: 3

Even for someone such myself who is a fan of Churchills and double coronas, the AVO Improvisation 30 Years still looks like a lot of cigar given its 7 1/2 inch length. From a color perspective, the cigar is on the light side, with a light brown wrapper and bands that are a light cream color with accents of orange, gold and silver, with the black V the heaviest part of the look. While the top leaf doesn’t look like it has much oil to it, the fingers tell a different story as it is a soft, smooth and supple leaf that is far from dry. The veins on the leaf are fairly small and scattered, there is little in the way of tooth, and except when there’s some variance in each leaf’s color, the seams are nearly invisible. There’s a bit of consistent give to this AVO when squeezed, though it never looks or feels underfilled, and the caps are all well applied. The foot is light and bright, at first sniff showing the effervescence of Champagne, with thick white bread stepping up next before turning to notes of red apple, banana, and a touch of tangerine. The cold draw is a bit firm, which seems to make it easier to appreciate the air movement of the cigar’s length, while flavors are thick and doughy at first taste, with hardly any sweetness, spice or pepper to be found.

The AVO Improvisation 30 Years opens with an interesting flavor profile that is familiar but which I can’t say I’ve smoked a lot of recently, namely the Ecuadorian terroir that separates it from similar varietals grown in Connecticut, as well as some Dominican loaminess. The first puffs have a similar effect on my mouth as sourdough bread, though the profile here is far from sour. After shedding those flavors as well as some initial heaviness, the flavor morphs into a lighter profile as the first clump of ash drops, showing more of the Dominican binder and filler by way of cereal grains, lumber and creaminess. Black pepper makes its first appearance here by way of a retrohale, and once experiencing it through the nose, it seems to be more easily detectable on the tongue as well. The final puffs of the first third see a minor shift to more creaminess with white pepper now the primary agent of tingle, while the wood and cereal have fallen back into minor roles, the result of which is a rather refined and nuanced profile. Other than ash that drops off unprompted, there has been little to gripe about with the cigar thus far.

It’s not long into the second third of the AVO Improvisation 30 Years that the cigar shows its complexity and balance, as some light white pepper adds a subtle kick to the now very creamy profile, with the palate getting just a bit of sweet cream. At the midpoint, the cigar pivots a bit, introducing some more black pepper into the mix, and while it’s not heavier either on the palate or through the nose, it does have noticeably more kick. From there the smoke gets toastier, occasionally treading into charred territory, though usually stopping just short. While the creamy texture is still there, most of the sweetness has dissipated, save for a touch in the nose where it has morphed into vanilla creamer. The technical performance continues to be solid all-around, with a smooth draw, even burn line, and plenty of smoke.

The final third starts on a much toastier note than the cigar has shown to this point, and with it comes a much drier profile that leaves my mouth wanting for a beverage as well as the majority of my tongue tingling with the table pepper and just a bit of saltiness. It’s a flavor that the cigar holds onto for much of this section, with each puff a reminder to slow down and minimize the increasingly heated flavors. The closing half of the final third sees the profile warm up and get charred and overly toasty, which doesn’t sit well in the back of the throat, and is further compounded by comparison to the fairly mild and creamy profile shown earlier. It’s by no means bad or unpalatable, though it’s far from the highest points the cigar showed earlier.

 

Final Notes

  • I still find it sort of hard to believe that the AVO brand was sold in the United States before the Davidoff brand was.
  • I’m generally not one to purchase a box of cigars without smoking one, but the return of both the AVO 22 and AVO LE05 has me thinking I might do just that when they are scheduled to arrive at retail in June and September, respectively.
  • This is an interesting vitola in that it can be referred to in a number of ways: double corona, double robusto, or Churchill. I opted for double robusto as I this is too big to be a proper Churchill, while coronas are between a 40 and 49 ring gauge.
  • If there’s one thing I have to take issue with about the AVO Improvisation 30 years, it’s the ash: it’s some of the most delicate I’ve seen in some time, and it felt like most of the second sample ended up either on my lap or laptop.
  • I can’t help but smirk and semi-chuckle when I hear the name “O.K. Cigars,” the factory where AVO is produced.
  • While there isn’t a ton of nicotine strength to be found in the AVO Improvisation 30 Years, there is a lingering pepper tingle in the final third that will stay with you well after you put the cigar down.
  • Davidoff of Geneva USA advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and five minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Cigars.com,  Corona Cigar Co.Famous Smoke Shop, JR CigarSerious Cigars and Thompson Cigar carry the AVO Improvisation 30 Years.
88 Overall Score

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.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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