Legends are sometimes created by a spark of dissatisfaction. The year was 1982 and Avo Uvezian, an accomplished composer and jazz pianist who wrote the Frank Sinatra song Strangers in the Night, attended his daughter’s christening in Switzerland. After the celebratory meal, Uvezian enkindled a Cuban cigar and settled down to enjoy the smoking experience. But the more he puffed, the more he became disenchanted with the puro’s quality and its extraordinary price. A friend made the suggestion that they should make their own cigars. And the spark was lit.
Avo travelled to the Dominican Republic in search of the finest cigar manufacturer and was soon introduced to master blender Hendrik “Henke” Kelner. Henke made a dozen different types of cigars for Uvezian to sample and after a month of tasting, Avo decided on the tobacco blend that would become the AVO Classic. The musician would hand out his cigars from the piano bench when playing gigs at clubs in Puerto Rico and the crowd would come back for more the next evening. Avo sent samples to Davidoff of Geneva, a worldwide distributer of premium cigars, igniting the beginning of a long term relationship. In 1995, Davidoff bought the brand from Uvezian and within a short time, more than two million AVO cigars were being sold internationally on an annual basis.
Last year, AVO launched their first regular-production, box-pressed cigar—the AVO Syncro Nicaragua, featuring the spicy and sweet tobaccos from the volcanic Isla Ometepe. For 2016, the company ventured north, into the Estelí and Condega regions, to create the first line extension to the highly-rated AVO Syncro Series—the Fogata. In Spanish, the word “fogata” translates to “bonfire” or “campfire” and is one of Uvezian’s favorite settings to share a smoking experience with his closest friends.
Avo, the master musician and cigar composer, clearly knows that all it takes to ignite a pyre is a just a single spark.
SEE ALSO: New Cigars from AVO at IPCPR 2016
AVO Syncro Nicaragua Fogata Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano 2000 Clara)
- Binder: Mexico (Negro San Andrés)
- Filler: Nicaragua (Condega Visus & Estelí Ligero) | Dominican (Yamasa Visus, San Vicente Ligero & Piloto)
- Factory: Oettinger Kelner Cigars (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 4½” × 52 Short Torpedo
- Price: $8.90
The Fogata is the second release in AVO’s Nicaraguan series of cigars, following the AVO Syncro Nicaragua, which was introduced in the summer of 2015. This line extension is offered in four sizes—Short Torpedo (4.5″ x 52, $8.90), Robusto (5″ x 50, $9.90), Toro (6″ x 54, $10.90) and the Special Toro (6″ x 60, $11.90). Unlike the box-pressed Syncro Nicaragua cigars, the AVO Fogata is cylindrical in shape. Each of the vitolas is shipped in highly-colorful, cedar-lined, twenty-count boxes.
The master blender made a major departure in selecting the tobaccos used in the Fogata compared to the type of leaves found in the standard AVO Syncro Nicaragua cigars. The wrapper on the Short Torpedo is an Ecuadorian Habano 2000 Clara, compared to an Ecuadorian Connecticut; while a Mexican San Andrés binder replaces the Dominican binder on the original release. In terms of filler tobacco, the new Fogata consists of a complex blend of stronger Ligero and Visus leaves from areas of the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, verses the Peruvian Olancho and Nicaraguan Ometepe used in its one-year-older sibling.
The factory declares that the Fogata line of cigars is, “Your calling to go deep into the untamed heart of one of the world’s most celebrated tobacco regions. An opportunity to unearth the vibrant spirit that lurks within.”
Visually, the Fogata Short Torpedo is a stunning cigar, immediately conveying supper-club sophistication along with a dash of after-party frivolity. The large, primary band consists of a geometrical pattern in three distinct shades of orange, with a slightly embossed AVO logo in silver, slate and cream. Underneath the main band, a persimmon-hued sub-band is embossed with the word “FOGATA” in silver, which is flanked by a graphic sketch of a flame. The combination of colors resembles those observed within a roaring, winter campfire.
The extended, torpedo head of the Fogata is slightly crooked, which actually adds to the attractiveness of the cigar—like the faces of the most beautiful models, which always contain an asymmetrical component. Its Ecuadorian Habano 2000 Clara wrapper is lovely, with tight seams, subdued veins, a bit of tooth, and a diminutive amount of oiliness. The color of the cigar is an alluring shade of brown, an equal mixture of kobicha—a centuries-old Japanese dye used in designing kimonos—and Peruvian milk chocolate. Properly packed from the tip to the foot, the aroma of the wrapper is a blend of finely-aged tobaccos with a touch of nuttiness, while the open foot smells of barnyard, cedar wood, earth, and the welcoming mustiness of a small wine cellar.
After slicing about three-quarter of an inch from the tip of the cap with a guillotine cutter—producing a large enough opening to achieve the maximum amount of flavor from the filler, binder, and wrapper—the initial cold draw is more than adequate for a cigar of this shape and size. The palate discerns smooth nuances of nuts, pepper and cacao.
After toasting the foot and lighting the Fogata Short Torpedo with a soft flame, the first puff produces an immediate blast of pepper and spice, indicative of the cigar’s Mexican San Andrés binder and the Ligero filler leaves from the Estelí region of Nicaragua. This is soon followed by a tip-of-the-tongue tingle, which is the natural indicator of the Dominican Piloto tobacco used in the blend. As the cigar begins to settle into the burn, the sweetness of the Nicaraguan Condega leaves provides a complementary balance to the overall taste of the Fogata. The draw is almost perfect, with an above-average amount of smoke output. Flavors and aromas are redolent of crisp cedar, leather, freshly-tilled earth, salted nuts, and a mug of French-pressed coffee with a single sugar cube. Red and white pepper with a touch of orange zest is dominant on the retrohale. At this point in the smoking experience, the Fogata is medium-full in body and medium-full in strength—the product of the Visus and Ligero tobaccos used in its composition.
As the Short Torpedo burns toward its second inch, the aromas and flavors continue to build in intensity. The initial brewed-coffee flavor present in the cigar transitions to stronger espresso shots, followed by an increase in saltiness. Room aroma created by the Fogata is reminiscent of a roaring, winter bonfire, fueled with an assortment of aged hardwoods—the charing smell of hot dogs toasting on skewers above the flames enhancing the overall bouquet. The burn line develops a slight waver, holding one and one-eighth inch of Gainsboro gray ash, highlighted with streaks of nickel. On the retrohale, the white and red pepper notes are replaced by those of freshly-cracked black peppercorns.
During the final half, the cigar transitions into a full-bodied smoke in terms of both strength and body, while the flavors are enhanced by the subtle addition of Morel mushrooms and cinnamon. The ash naturally falls to the floor at almost two inches in length, leaving an “L” shaped burn line, which requires the first touch-up. As the Fogata burns toward the nub, a chalky, mineral-like quality begins to develop on the palate—lead, graphite, rock salt—producing an increased amount of acidity and an overall bitterness. After a few additional puffs, the cigar is placed in an ashtray and allowed to extinguish.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
The answer to that question is, “Now and Then.” While I was impressed with the appearance of the Fogata Short Torpedo, along with its combination of intensity and complexity during the first half of the smoking experience, the aromas and flavors were eventually overrun by the mineral taste that developed during the latter-part of the second half. Perhaps a bit of aging would produce a more consistent and smoother smoking experience from foot to nub.
- Outstanding Appearance
- Nicaraguan Strength
- Wavy Burn Line
- Strong Mineral Finish