Every year since 2000 AVO has released a Limited Edition cigar to commemorate Avo Uvezian. The 85th was the 11th release of this series and coincided with Avo’s 85th birthday.
For this review I decided to take the pictures on a pumpkin my wife bought to celebrate Halloween. Enjoy!
Country of Manufacture: Dominican Republic
Rolled: OK Cigar Factory
Quantity smoked: 1
Box Date: 2011
Size: 6.75×50 Diadema
Binder: Peruvian Pelo de Oro
Filler: San Vicente Visus, San Vicente Ligero, Piloto Ligero, Piloto Seco
The AVO 85th is a superbly constructed “Diadema” or perfecto shaped cigar with a leathery brown sun grown wrapper. There are a few prominent veins along the cover leaf and due to resting for three years at 65rh (relative humidity) the wrapper is somewhat dry and paper-like to the touch. Running my nose along its length produced a musty combination of hay, compost, and a whisper of white pepper. The tapered foot was harder to get notes from but I got the Davidoff “grassy” notes along with must and a hint of mulling spices. The perfect pulling cold draw was a combination of cedary, musty, grassy and zesty with hints of mulling spice.
Two things are immediately apparent upon lighting up the AVO 85th. Firstly, there is an abundance of white pepper. So often when I smoke a cigar these days I am greeted not by pepper but the harsh edge of fresh tobacco that so many mistake for the pepper of aged tobacco. The 85th shows its age with a high-pitched natural pepper that truly attacks the palate…in a good way. Secondly, this cigar has a real citrus zest to it. Rounding out the profile are lesser notes of grass, mulling spices (cinnamon and nutmeg), leather, a salty mineral-earth and a faint caramel sweetness. Yes, this cigar is complex. Construction is solid with a steady burn and above average smoke production. Finishing out this third I am struck by the abundance of body in this cigar. I really feel the pepper in the throat/sinuses and the strength is already medium. Don’t let the flavors trick you into thinking this is light in terms of body or strength.
The chief flavors in the second third are mineral and citrus. There is still an underlying grass or hay but it’s in the background much like the leather and mulling spice. The white pepper comes in waves and is impossible to predict, hitting the senses at various degrees of intensity, at various times. The smoke produces a nice creamy/leathery texture on the palate and leaves my mouth watering. The smoke wafting from the foot has a wonderful dusty or musty aroma I most often smell on Cuban cigars. Long finish that starts with light leather, earth and citrus in the first five seconds, white pepper in next five and eventually settles to mineral, lasting between puffs. Body has never wavered, landing in the medium-full range because of the steady sharp white pepper. Strength the same medium-full.
Thankfully, in the final third the AVO 85th becomes a little less schizophrenic and complex. The finish shortens up in length which was a surprisingly welcome change. Mineral and leather are the chief flavors on the palate now, back-ended by the previously mentioned sweet grass/hay and a newly arrived toasty note. The citrus and sharp pepper of the first two thirds have calmed down considerably while the sweetness has risen. The mulling spice is now a much more distinct cinnamon flavor that is quite pleasant. In AVO fashion the construction was tip-top with a solid burn and great smoke production. Ends at a steady medium to medium-full for strength/body.
Zingy (citrus), peppery (white), grassy, musty, earthy, leathery and filled with baking spices. It’s not only unique for a cigar in general but pretty unique for an AVO LE, even though it still has some of those characteristic Henke Kelner qualities. A true Wild Card of a cigar.
The AVO 85th is a wacky cigar. It’s one of those cigars you pick up and smoke to keep your palate guessing and your mind engaged on the constant interplay of complexity and flavor. True aficionado’s will savor it and enjoy the intense white pepper but most new smokers won’t know what to think of it. The fact that the main flavors are so much different from most cigars on the shelves makes it unique. Oddly enough, what made this an interesting smoke – the complexity and uniqueness – is also what hindered it slightly. I didn’t smoke this at release but as it’s smoking now I feel like it is a rebellious teenager, close to adulthood, who still needs few years to grow up and settle down. Only time will tell.
Special thanks to Paul Patel on stogiefriends.com for the cigar