In 2018, Davidoff celebrated the 30 years of the AVO brand by releasing new versions of some of the label’s most sought-after cigars. This was very much an ode to the people who are most likely to be regular readers of halfwheel, i.e., the cigars were for the hardcore AVO fans.

While I was not consulted, if I were asked to pick two old AVO limited editions to get rereleased as part of the anniversary, my first suggestions would have been easy to think of: 22 and LE05. That is exactly what Davidoff did.

The original AVO LE05 was released in 2005 and packaged in relatively plain boxes that contained factory bundles of the cigars, i.e., each box was wrapped in the same way that a factory would store the cigars internally, complete with a card identifying who made the cigars, when, etc. For the sophomore release in 2018, Davidoff sold the cigars with bands and in more normal boxes, though they featured an acrylic sliding lid.

Blend-wise, both versions used an Ecuadorian wrapper over a Dominican binder and Dominican fillers. The 2018 version was limited to 1,500 boxes of 20 cigars with the MSRP set at $15 per cigar.

Here’s what I said when I reviewed the cigar in early 2019:

Almost as much as I’ve said the line about anniversaries in the last week, I’ve repeated my comment about where the bar was as far as I was concerned. I previously said that if Davidoff could hit on just one of the three rereleases—AVO 22, LE05 or Davidoff Diademas Finas—it would be a success. Those three cigars are some of the most legendary cigars of the last couple decades and anytime you bring back a legend, it’s nearly impossible to meet said expectations. I think the Diademas Finas is the best of the bunch now, and I believe it will age into the best of the bunch, but the final third of the LE05 produced my favorite moments of any of three cigars, and it wasn’t even close. Due to how poorly one of the cigars burned, the score inevitably won’t reflect just how good this cigar finished, which was truly phenomenal.

  • Cigar Reviewed: AVO LE05 30 Years
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: O.K. Cigars
  • Wrapper: Ecuador
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Length: 5 3/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • MSRP: $15 (Box of 20, $300)
  • Release Date: September 2018
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1

The cellophane does not look new, though it’s far from yellow. I still subscribe to the theory that the yellow or brown color of cellophane is an incredibly inaccurate gauge of how old a cigar is, though I know that we’ve had this box since November 2018. The milk chocolate wrapper color is fairly consistent in color, but there are very obvious veins. Given how prominent the veins are, it almost looks like parts of the wrapper might have been stitched together, and there are a couple of veins that go underneath the bands, causing the paper to protrude in places. The cigar is mostly round, though there’s a natural box press on one part of the foot and I notice a soft spot a little less than an inch below the secondary band. The aroma from the wrapper is medium-full with lots of leather and the smell of roasted peanuts. It’s quite salty, though I can find some sweeter floral flavors underneath. Oddly, once the cigar has been out of cellophane for about 30 seconds, the aroma is much milder. It’s not uncommon for a cigar’s aroma to dissipate over time, but this was as rapid of a decline in intensity as I can remember. The foot’s aroma is closer to full with sweet chocolate edging out a black tea smell. Secondary smells include leather, white pepper and a bit of creaminess. The cold draw greets me with some of the flavors that many people do not like in Davidoff, a flavor that has been described on this site as musty, mushroom-like, truffle-like or reminiscent of olor tobacco. Separate from that, I find a flavor that reminds me of anchovies or a similar canned fish. More deliberate cold draws lead to flavors of white pepper and a mild orange sensation. While it wasn’t apparent while smelling the wrapper, during the cold draw I notice the smell of ammonia emanating from the wrapper.

Once lit, the AVO LE05 30 Years has a medium-full profile of earthiness before campfire sensations take over. There are some mineral and rocky qualities, but it’s mostly the burning woods. That lasts for a half inch, but eventually, a sharper earthiness takes over, beating out the familiar Davidoff musty flavor as the top spot of a defined one-two punch. During the first third of the AVO, I find the musty flavor to be a bit more like olive oil than I normally find the flavor to be and once I have this thought, I can’t shake it. Secondary flavors include sweet bread notes, a mineral-laden terroir and some white pepper. The finish has some interesting bread flavors that combine with the olor-like flavors, which only makes me think more of olive oil. Earthiness and woody flavors emerge deeper into the finish, but I don’t find any of the campfire flavors from before. Retrohales have earthiness, olor, roasted flavors and some leather. There’s some sweetness from a purple grape-like sensation, but it’s overwhelmed by the other flavors. I can’t really find a change in what I taste in my nose during the finish of the retrohale, but each time I push through my nose, the aftertaste in the mouth has a harsher woody flavor. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. Construction through the first third is great.

The olor or olive oil-like sensation takes over as the top spot of the AVO during the second third. Behind it is earthiness, creaminess and meatiness, in that order. I find the profile to be more muddled and more bitter compared to the first third; perhaps it’s palate fatigue, perhaps something else. The finish has olor and nuttiness standing out atop leather, stale bottled water, herbal flavors and a touch of pepper. The retrohales are very similar to what I taste in my mouth if I do not push smoke through my nose, though I find it to be a cleaner version of the profile. That allows for meatiness and pepper to close the gap to the olor flavor, though the bitter olive oil sensation is still the strongest flavor. The finish is spicier, though I’m not sure where or what is causing it. I can still taste a lot of the olive oil flavors and I feel my mouth drying out. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-full. It’s at this point of the cigar that I find myself needing to remove the bands, which are a pain to do and leads to lots of tearing of the paper. At some point during the final third, the cigar—which up until that point had been burning very well—just goes out. The relight seems to reduce the intensity of the olor flavor and add some oak to the profile. Creaminess and pepper remain, though the largest change is the softening of the olor flavor. That is, at least until I retrohale, when the flavor ends up being the strongest it is during any point of the cigar. It dominates over some sourdough bread and meaty flavors, neither of which stand a change. Outside of the one relight due to the cigar going out, construction is otherwise fine.

84 Overall Score

A lot of times when writing a redux review, there’s not many insightful takeaways other than the cigar is not the same cigar as the one that was originally reviewed. Sometimes, I can't even make that proclamation. This is not one of those times. I rarely find myself talking about “balance” because I do not believe that everyone—both consumers and producers—strive to have balance in their cigars. This cigar was about as unbalanced as any cigar I’ve smoked this year. The musty/mushroom/truffle/olor/olive oil flavor—that sometimes signature Davidoff flavor—overwhelmed the second and final thirds of this cigar. For many, even having this flavor as a persistent secondary flavor would be too much; even for those that tolerate the flavor, this was probably too much. My second big takeaway is how vibrant this cigar is after all this time. It certainly tastes like an aged cigar, but the flavor intensity scale would give little indication that this cigar is nearing five years old. While not as important as the other two, my tasting notes concluded with a comment about how the campfire flavors that dominated the first few puffs were nowhere to be found after the first five or so minutes, which I found to be interesting. This particular version of the AVO LE05 30 Years is going to be polarizing, but if you are sitting on some of these, I’d recommend smoking one to see where your box is at. If you are like me and haven’t smoked one in a while, I think you’ll be surprised by how much life is left. 

Original Score (January 2019)
Redux Score (May 2023)
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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I have written about the cigar industry for more than a decade, covering everything from product launches to regulation to M&A. In addition, I handle a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff here at halfwheel. I enjoy playing tennis, watching boxing, falling asleep to the Le Mans 24, wearing sweatshirts year-round and eating gyros. echte liebe.