In its 19th year of consecutive releases, AVO Cigars’ annual limited-edition cigars are said to be the oldest and longest-running such series. The concept began in 2001, with many of the initial releases throughout the first five years going on to receive cult status from industry experts, collectors, and cigar enthusiasts (e.g. AVO 22, AVO LE05).
Where the series initially centered around company founder Avo Uvezian’s birthdays (so-dubbed “birthday series”), the company changed gears in 2015, introducing the Improvisation Series, described as being “based on unexpected music and cigar inspirations that create rich noteworthy experiences for all to celebrate.”
The first four releases under the Improvisation Series name consisted of the Classic Covers Vol. 1 through 4—operating as a series within a series within a series, so to speak. With the focus throughout 2018 being largely directed towards the brand’s milestone 30th anniversary celebrations, AVO now returns its attention toward the Improvisation Series, debuting the AVO Improvisation Series LE19 in March of this year.
AVO Improvisation Series LE19 Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuador
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic | Peru
- Factory: Oettinger Kelner Cigars (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Limited Edition (2,500 boxes of 20 cigars for US)
- Vitola: 6″ × 52 (Box-Pressed Toro)
- Price: $15.00 (MSRP)
Differing from the musical themes of many of AVO’s releases, the LE19 draws inspiration from the cigar’s box-pressed shape. The cigars—being the second Improvisation release to use a box press (the first being 2017’s LE17 release)—are significantly pressed and coupled with packaging that is made to mimic authentic cigar molds that are used to shape the cigars at the factory.
Master blenders Henke Kelner and Eladio Díaz have crafted the LE19 at Davidoff’s Oettinger Kelner factory in the Dominican Republic, featuring a diverse blend of seven tobaccos that were sourced from three unique countries.
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Improvisation Series LE19 is much darker than the standard AVO cigar, with the wrapper clocking in between Colorado and Colorado maduro. The cigar’s shape is very geometric, having slightly rounded corners and even, straight sides. There are some slightly loose seams and a few veins that are a bit larger than I’d like to see in a cigar of this price range, but the overall appearance is very attractive. As for the feel, it seems to be about a medium-plus bunch, giving a good springiness with a squeeze, as well as a good amount of weight in the hand.
On the wrapper, there are earthy aromas of mineral, rain, and a touch of barnyard. And on the foot, added notes of cedar and nutmeg come into play. The pre-light draw is a bit on the firm side, delivering flavors of pine and Christmas-like spices.
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The AVO LE19 lights up with a blast of flavor throughout the palate and retrohale, including notes of mineral, oak, and leather. The profile is soon joined by an underlying perfume-like sweetness—it’s a soft and silky, classic overall experience. Allowing the toro to develop over the course of twenty minutes, the soft and nuanced profile is reinforced with notes of florals, fruit-infused tea, and loads of sweet cream.
As the pre-light draw indicated, the LE19’s draw leans to the firm side; this is nothing close to a deal breaker, but it does make double puffing often necessary. Light streams of soft and silky smooth smoke aid in the cigar’s luxurious feel, though, as mentioned, I’d prefer a larger smoke output. The cigar’s ash is flaky, accumulating up to two inches from an exceptionally wavy burn line. And while the burn never becomes too lopsided to require a touchup, the cigar does depend on continuous reignitions from start to finish to maintain a proper smoke output. The smoke seems to interact primarily with the back sides (acidic), front sides (salty), and tip (sweet) of the tongue, giving a soft and sweet, mouthwatering sensation on the palate.
Flavors range from cinnamon, to oak, to light cabinet spices, as the burn passes the two-inch mark. There is plenty of depth to the profile, though transitions are gradual. With each touchup, flavors are amplified dramatically; one such instance brings a surprisingly distinct note of banana pudding, backed by subtleties of anise and vanilla.
The LE19’s final third is much darker than the cigar’s earlier characteristics. Charred oak and dark Christmas-like spices begin to dominate the profile. Natural flavors of pine and woods are upfront, with a heavy cream on the finish providing continuity from the cigar’s earlier moments. But the cream is eventually overtaken, replaced with anise and root beer candy. The profile ends darker still, showing overly roasted coffee, leather, charred bread, and black pepper.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Why, soitenly! (read using your best Curly Howard accent).
AVO Improvisation Series LE19 has all the depth, texture, nuance, and complexity one should expect from an AVO limited. Unfortunately, the slightly firm draw, low smoke output, and multiple touchups detract from an otherwise stellar experience. That being said, the flavors alone are worth more sessions with this beauty!
- Personally, I preferred the cigar’s first third > second third > final third, as the profile increasingly darkened.
- AVO Improvisation Series LE19 has one of the most impressive packaging presentations I’ve seen in awhile.
- The presentation begins with a white paper outer covering, showing clean imagery of the various AVO insignia.
- The enclosed box is substantial—built from solid wood (oak?), the box is one of the heaviest (of 20 cigars) I’ve handled.
- The thick lid is carved in a lockup shape, tying into the “2019” logo of the LE19, which itself references the cigar’s box-pressed shape.
- Thick canvas straps are attached to each tray of individually slotted cigars, mimicking a factory press. This allows the trays to be easily removed from the box.
- A thin ribbon is weaved up and down each individual cigar slot, allowing the recessed cigars to be brought up one by one, from left to right (or vice versa).
- Flavor: Medium-plus
- Strength: Mild / medium
- Body: Medium-light
- Sweet cream
- Smoke Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Espresso | Mineral water | Gin & tonic | Root beer
- Purchase Recommendation: 5-pack
- Silk-like texture
- Deep complexity
- Gradual transitions
- Low smoke output
- Draw on firm side
- Multiple touchups