Operating as one of the longest-running, annual releases of a limited edition series, AVO Cigars began introducing special “birthday blends” for the brand’s patriarch, Avo Uvezian, in 2001. This tradition held true until 2015, where a newly redesigned AVO brand shifted gears to focus on the brand itself, rather the man behind the name—introducing a new, limited edition series dubbed “Improvisation Series”. The first cigar within the series was AVO Classic Covers 2015; offering a unique concept that cleverly played on the brand’s musical background by “covering” AVO’s own baseline cigars, beginning with the AVO Classic cigar. This cigar kicked off a “mini series” within the encompassing Improvisation Series, with AVO introducing two Classic Covers cigars in 2015 and two more in 2016—ultimately covering all four of the brand’s core line cigars.
AVO Classic Covers Series
|AVO Classic Covers 2015||AVO Classic||6″ × 50 toro||4·13·15||56,000|
|AVO Classic Covers 2015 Volume 2||AVO Heritage||6″ × 54 toro||9·18·15||56,000|
|AVO 90th Classic Covers Volume 3||AVO XO||6″ × 54 toro||3·22·16||63,000|
|AVO 90th Classic Covers Volume 4||AVO Domaine||6″ × 50/54 figurado||10·20·16||36,000|
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Classic Covers Volume 4 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano 2000 Marron
- Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
- Filler: Dominican (San Vicente Mejorado Volado | Yamasa Visus | Pilito Visus | San Vicente Visus)
- Factory: OK Cigar Corp, Inc. (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Limited Edition (2,000 boxes of 18 cigars)
- Vitola: 6″ × 50 × 54 figurado
- Price: $17.90 ($322.20/box MSRP)
For 2016’s releases, AVO returned focus back to their longstanding tradition of celebrating Uvezian’s birthdays. This was a temporary annulment, as 2016 marked a major milestone of the musician’s 90th birthday. Both the Volume 3 and Volume celebrated this accomplishment.
The 90th Classic Covers Volume 4 cigar was the final cigar in the series; to set the cigar apart, it broke the series’ trend of toro sizes, using a special figurado shape:
When the cigar was announced at IPCPR 2016, we wrote:
The Domaine is the brand’s most premium regular production cigar – a fitting choice to end the Classic Covers series. The Volume 4 cigar features a similar wrapper and filler makeup, using a more choice selection for an upgraded experience. The binder has been changed from Dominican (used on Domaine) to Ecuadorian Sumatra for Volume 4. A singular figurado vitola will be offered, which uses the same “No. 50” size from the Domaine lineup. Packaging resembles the Volume 3, shaped after a record player, with a removable vinyl lid for display and built-in slots for converting the box into a functioning ash tray.
Look / Feel
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Classic Covers Volume 4 is a noticeably shapely and attractive specimen. And with closer examination, the construction appears on point, having a solid, papier-mâché texture on the cigar’s exterior. That being said, there was a slightly soft spot in the cigar’s center. The wrapper’s seams are clearly visible and there are a medium amount of veins running down the leaf’s lightly oily surface. It is a dark, coffee-hued wrapper shade—ranking just under maduro. With the cigar’s stiff build, it carries a surprisingly light weight in the hand.
The cigar showcases the same sub-band as Volume 3, having a rich, copper ink against cream white and charcoal black stripes. The packaging follows suit for the extravagantly designed series, displaying ten cigars in a box made to resemble a record player. With a bright yellow box lid acting as the record, the lid can be removed to be displayed on lounge walls, etc. The box is then convertible to a working ashtray, with two grooves on the record player needle, made to rest the cigars over the recessed cutout where the cigars were originally held.
The figurado itself carries a decent aroma—with barnyard notes of hay, light musk, and leather. This theme is continued into the pre-light draw—which consists of manure and pistachio nuts, pulled through a medium/firm draw resistance.
A good deal of toasting is required before the AVO 90th Classic Covers Volume 4 is ready for lighting—this is due to the cigar’s dramatic shape at the foot. The draw is predictably tight (though it is expected to loosen as the ring gauge increases), offering a heavy camp-fiery notes through a portion of the cigar that consists primarily of the cigar’s Habano 2000 Marron wrapper. Here, the smoke output is quite thin, offering punchy flavors of coffee, sharp spice in the retrohale, and dark toast on the palate. The profile can be pegged at: medium-plus strength, medium-full flavor, medium-full body.
It is not 10 minutes before the burn engulfs the largest ring gauge portion of the cigar; this opens the draw to around medium-plus in resistance—nearly perfect. And while the draw has improved, the burn line struggles—becoming wonky enough for a deserved touchup. The dark flavors from before begin to expand, evolving to nutmeg and other dark, Christmas-like spices. This is also accompanied by a decent kick-up in strength.
Into the meat of the cigar, flavors are dark and spicy—there are plenty of sharp spices in the retrohale, with chili powder and mineral flavors, as well as a fairly dry texture on the tongue. It is a fairly robust experience, often very reminiscent of recent releases in Camacho’s Liberty Series. The profile entering the cigar’s final third are: medium/full strength (increased slightly from before), medium-plus flavor (similar), medium/full body (increased slightly).
Around this point the cigar requires another touchup, which seems to produce lighter, slightly sweeter, and perhaps more complex flavors. There are familiar notes of Christmas pudding, chocolate, anise, and a very nice vanilla sweetness on the finish (reminiscent of vanilla from “Bomb!” imperial stout by Prairie Artisan Ales).
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Maybe. This is more of a special occasion smoke in my opinion. Obviously the price is an indicator of this, but the cigar’s dark, spicy, and mineral-nuanced profile certainly doesn’t lend itself to an anytime choice—even when disregarding the cost.
Figurado shapes are always a treat to have in the humidor and are a good talking point when smoking in public. There is also the often-drastic flavor changes that occur from the ring gauge expansion/contractions; which may also bring burn issues along (and did, in this case). This all amounts to a smoking experience I’d enjoy on select occasions—I’d make a purchase of one to two cigars.
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: barrel-aged stout, A Midwinter Night’s Dram by High West Distillery (specific but accurate!), Dark ‘N’ Stormy cocktail, Port wine
- Purchase Recommendation: 2 cigars
- Fun size
- Interesting flavor changes from ring gauge variation
- Low smoke output and tight draw at start
- Multiple touchups
- Lacks sweetness and nuance