While I haven’t checked the final score as to which company or brand rolled out the most new products at the 2019 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show, one brand I wouldn’t have expected to be on the leaderboard was AVO. The brand’s 30th anniversary had come and gone, things seemed to be in a fairly decent place following the reworking of the portfolio, and I simply hadn’t heard that much was in the works.
Yet when the trade show doors opened, there was the Davidoff of Geneva USA booth sporting several pieces of signage announcing new cigars. There was the four-cigar AVO Unexpected line and then a pair of regional releases, the AVO Regional East Edition and AVO Regional West Edition, the first time that the AVO brand has created a regional edition.
The East Edition is a 6 x 55 perfecto that uses an Ecuadorian wrapper, Dominican binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The West Edition is a 5 1/2 x 52 belicoso and also uses an Ecuadorian wrapper and Dominican binder, though the fillers come from the Dominican Republic and Honduras, with the company saying that the West is stronger is a stronger blend than the East. Additionally, the East Edition wears an orange secondary band, while the West Edition’s is a light blue.
Both releases are priced at $11 per cigar and limited to 2,500 boxes of 10 cigars.
- Cigar Reviewed: AVO Regional East Edition
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: O.K. Cigars
- Wrapper: Ecuador
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 55
- Vitola: Perfecto
- MSRP: $11 (Box of 10, $110)
- Release Date: July 2019
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (25,000 Total cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Orange isn’t the most common color you see on cigar bands, but it’s found here and it’s gradient fade works quite well on the secondary band, playing off the Ecuadorian wrapper quite well. The perfecto vitola is executed quite well with clean lines and seams as well as beautiful construction at the head and feet. It’s not an overly firm cigar, offering some of the same kind of pillowy firmness I associate with box-pressed cigars. The wrapper’s aroma is light and a bit nutty, while the foot’s rather small opening doesn’t contribute much, other than it seems to tone down the overall brightness. Before I even register how the airflow is on the cold draw, I’m hit with orange marmalade and toast, an eerily exact flavor in some of the samples. The draw is good even with the tapered ends, as it’s clear there’s nothing impeding the flow of air through the body.
The first puffs of the AVO Regional East Edition have me trying to pin down exactly what I’m tasting; there’s a bit of thin, dry woodiness, some white pepper, white bread toast, and just a bit of that orange marmalade sweetness, though it is very minimal. Yet there’s something that happens when they all come together that leaves a little twinge on the palate. As the burn line progresses, there’s more black pepper coming into the mix, nudging out the sweetness with every puff. It’s even cleaner and more enjoyable through the nose, and while retrohales aren’t multipliers to the experience, they certainly add to it. In particular the orange sweetness isn’t so quick to depart here, and a slow exhale will reveal its presence as well as a bit of cedar. The end of the first third brings on some more defined woodiness, with inklings of more developing pepper. The flavor and body sit a bit above medium, while the construction is good and problem free. If anything, the burn line isn’t always even and the ash isn’t particularly attractive.
While I wasn’t completely enamored with what the cigar was offering in the first sample, the second sample is a bit more engaging with the profile. It’s still a bit on the dry side and pepper has lightened into a white pepper flavor. The AVO Regional East Edition isn’t particularly earthy, yet I find myself being drawn back to the idea of getting an interesting terroir flavor that stands on its own without drawing any immediate descriptors. I’d peg the first half a solid medium to medium plus in terms of flavor and body, while strength is closer to medium. One thing I will say about the flavor is that when it is on, it is engaging and lingering, offering plenty of time to contemplate its nuances. By the time the lower band needs to come off, the cigar is much more woody and pepper-forward, a solid medium-plus in terms of flavor and intensity, with strength a few ticks below that. Black pepper in the final puffs are much more developed, earthy and yet brighter on the palate. The draw and burn are both quite good, though the ash is flaker than I prefer.
As the AVO Regional East Edition gets into its final third, I find myself thinking about the orange marmalade sweetness from earlier and how much I’d like for it to make a return. Yet despite my wishes, it doesn’t appear to be in the cards, as the cigar gets fuller, subtly getting into medium-full territory as the flavor distills a bit, particularly the wood, which is thicker and more developed. The cigar finishes up a bit hot with some sharp pepper going after the front of the tongue, and nicotine strength has suddenly become part of the mix. The cigar finishes up with about an inch of tobacco left, as combustion seems to be becoming a bit of an issue, but still easily offering an enjoyable 90ish minutes of smoking time.
- Had the first cigar performed better, this would have scored closer to that quasi-magical 90 mark. Were I to do this review over with three new cigars, I’d be interested to see if it could actually hit that mark or if there’s still enough variance to hold it back.
- In case you pick a couple of these or the West Edition up and can’t remember which is which, the side of the main band indicates West or East.
- I have not yet tried the West Edition, but it’s on my list next time I stop by an AVO retailer.
- Charlie Minato covered the Davidoff of Geneva USA booth at the 2019 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show, which includes the Davidoff brand as well as AVO, Camacho and Back2Back.
- While I didn’t think that the AVO Regional East Edition was going to be a really strong cigar, the second sample did have me reaching for a bit of white sugar
- Davidoff of Geneva USA advertises on halfwheel.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hours and 35 minutes on average.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co. and Corona Cigar Co. carry the AVO Regional East Edition.
After smoking the first AVO Regional East Edition, I was not just a bit disappointed by the blend, but even a bit concerned. The smoke was underwhelming, the flavor seemed a bit flat, and there wasn't much that had me excited about the remaining two samples. Thankfully those other two samples did more to make me a believer in the AVO Regional East Edition. It's a flavorful cigar with some familiar notes of cedar and pepper, as well as a unique base layer that comes across as a well-stewed combination of some of the signature earthiness of the regions where the tobacco is grown. I'd love to tighten up the ash a bit, but otherwise the construction is more than acceptable. I'm interested to see how the West Edition compares, but the East Edition is certainly no slouch.