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During the 2019 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, Davidoff of Geneva USA released a quartet of new cigars under its AVO brand, each of which features a very special ingredient or process that makes them unique.

While the company is highlighting one of the unique aspects, it’s not disclosing much of the rest of the blends or at least was the plan prior to the listing on its own online storefront. The idea behind this was to focus on one unique element.

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Each of the four cigars features a different color scheme.

  • AVO Unexpected Passion (6 x 50) — $10.50 (Box of 20, $210) — One of the leaves used in the Unexpected Passion blend is 25-years-old.
  • AVO Unexpected Celebration (6 x 54) — $11.70 (Box of 20, $234) — All of the Unexpected Celebration cigars were rolled and then aged for six years before being released.
  • AVO Unexpected Tradition (6 x 50) — $9.80 (Box of 20, $196) — The blend of Unexpected Tradition incorporates a tobacco that is native to the country of Peru.
  • AVO Unexpected Moment (6 x 54) — $12.70 (Box of 20, $254) — According to the company, the Unexpected Moment cigars were “blended with highly aromatic tobacco grown in a unique Dominican finca.”

The subject of today’s review is the Unexpected Celebration, a 6 x 54 toro extra that was rolled and then aged for six years before being released. In terms of blend, the Celebration features a wrapper leaf sourced from Ecuador while both the binder and filler tobaccos hail from the Dominican Republic.

  • Cigar Reviewed: AVO Unexpected Celebration
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: O.K. Cigars
  • Wrapper: Equador
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Toro Extra
  • MSRP: $11.70 (Box of 20, $234)
  • Release Date: July 2019
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,500 Boxes of 20 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Visually, the AVO Unexpected Celebration is covered in a light yellow-tinged wrapper that is only accentuated by the gold and yellow colors that are present in both bands. The wrapper leaf is smooth to the touch and features very little oil, although there are plenty of small bumps running from the top of the cap to the bottom of the foot. Aroma from the wrapper and foot is a combination of sweet hay, leather, white chocolate, espresso beans and manure, while the cold draw brings flavors of dank earth, hay, mushrooms, barnyard, citrus and slight vanilla sweetness.

After the extremely aromatic scents I noticed coming from the wrapper, I was not disappointed in how the AVO Unexpected Celebration starts off, with strong and distinct flavors of both creamy hay and bitter dark chocolate, followed close behind by notes of licorice, creamy cedar, minerals, gritty earth and generic nuts. There is no spice so far, but there is plenty of honey sweetness and white pepper on the retrohale, the former of which seems to be gaining strength. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent after a simple punch and the burn is close to razor sharp so far, while the smoke production is massive off of the foot. The strength is virtually non-existent, ending the first third not much further from the mild mark than where it started.

While the dominant flavors of creamy hay and bitter dark chocolate are unchanged in the second third of the AVO Celebration, more secondary flavors have been added to the profile, including mushrooms, lemon rinds, mocha coffee and aged cedar. The honey sweetness from the first third has gained strength as well, while the white pepper that was present has been reduced by at least half. Both the draw and burn continue to impress—as does the smoke production, which is still rolling off of the foot like a house on fire—and while the strength does increase enough that I notice it, there is still quite a ways to go for it to hit the medium mark when the second third comes to an end.

The honey sweetness begins to lose a bit of steam in the final third of the AVO Unexpected Celebration, although it is still easily strong enough to impact the profile in a very positive way. A dark, bitter chocolate still dominates the palate–followed very closely by creamy hay and aged cedar notes—while flavors of freshly roasted espresso beans, wheat, leather, citrus, toast and a touch of floral bring up the rear. In terms of construction, the burn remains excellent and the smoke production continues to pour off of the foot, but the burn becomes problematic enough that I have to touch it up twice. Finally, the overall strength increases enough to come within spitting distance of the medium mark, but never really threatens to cross over the line before I put the nub down with a little less than an inch to go.

Final Notes

  • For those wondering aging cigars for six years prior to release is uncommon, though not unheard of. Most cigars are rolled and then rest for 30-90 days to let out moisture and other gasses. Some companies age cigars for around a year, but six years is quite a bit longer than most.
  • Habanos S.A. has a whole series of cigars that are rolled and then aged for at least five years.
  • Aging cigars in a factory is likely different in terms of what happens to the cigars compared to your humidor at home.
  • Most of the time when you see numbers related to how old a cigar is, the numbers are likely referring to the tobacco and not when the cigars were rolled.
  • As part of the Unexpected Series release, AVO announced the Unexpected Mystery Assortment that includes four different 5 x 50 robustos, two of which are undisclosed blends: AVO Unexpected Moment, AVO Unexpected Tradition, AVO “Unexpected AU20” and AVO “Unexpected AU21.” Only 500 samplers priced at $34.99 each are were produced.
  • Including a mystery blend in a four-pack sampler is nothing new to AVO; in fact, the company did the same thing with the Quartet Sampler that was released back in 2013 and included robusto vitolas of the AVO Heritage, AVO Signature and AVO Lounge Edition blends as well a fourth cigar bearing a gold band that read “AU14 Batch No. 024.”
  • While I have noticed a toast flavor as part of the profile in quite a few cigars over the years, there have not been many cigars that I have smoked with this much of a burnt toast flavor specifically.

  • Each of the Unexpected Series blends features its own unique logo that is present on both the sides of both bands and the box lids.
  • While I did have to touch up the burn on two of the three cigars, the draw was excellent on all three samples after a simple punch and there was more than enough thick, white smoke that never waned.
  • This is an ideeal morning cigar to enjoy with or without coffee: complex, flavorful and light enough in the strength department that I could easily have another cigar right after it if I choose.
  • Davidoff of Geneva USA is an advertiser on halfwheel.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time averaged one hour and 46 minutes for all three samples.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the AVO Unexpected Celebration, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Corona Cigar Co., JR Cigar and STOGIES World Class Cigars have them in stock.
89 Overall Score

This is one of the most inconsistent releases I have smoked in quite a while: while the list of flavors I tasted was virtually identical for each of the three cigars I smoked for the review, the dominant flavors were very different in each. One featured creamy hay and bitter dark chocolate with honey sweetness, the second was full of burnt toast and mushrooms along with creme brûlée sweetness while the last sample tasted strongly of leather, citrus and floral sweetness. Having said that, regardless of the leading flavor, the profiles were complex and balanced with creaminess very much present the palate and finish. I have not tried any of the other releases in the Unexpected Series yet, but if they are even close to as good as the Celebration, AVO fans will be very, very happy.

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Brooks Whittington
About the author

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.

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