When you’re known in an industry by first name only, legendary status is sure to follow. Avo Uvezian was one such figure—a legend in the cigar world known for his charisma and snappy sense of style. What makes his story ever more unique is that he was just as well known for being a jazz pianist; which is, in a big way, how his cigar career got its start. Looking back at his early history, as busy as his music career seemed to be in the early days, it is amazing that he even had time to develop a taste for premium cigars, let alone converting such taste into one of the most beloved brands in the world!
During a resort performance back in the mid-’70s, Avo noticed people not only came to listen to him play, they came to enjoy cigars as well. After offering up some local cigars he purchased himself, “Customers and friends used to write me and ask me for the cigars,” Uvezian told Cigar Aficionado in an interview. “That’s when I said to myself that I better look at getting serious about this.”
Fast forward to 1987, Avo crossed paths with Davidoff’s Hendrik Kelner, and the AVO cigar brand was born.
In 2020 AVO is once again making memories with a release that honors that original blend from 1987: the AVO Classic Maduro. This blend was originally introduced in 2000, using essentially the same core recipe as the AVO Classic but swapping the light-hued Ecuadorian wrapper of the original for a dark Connecticut Broadleaf alternative. The cigar was later cut from the lineup with AVO’s rebrand in 2015, making limited returns such as with 2018’s 30th Anniversary celebrations. After five years, the blend has now returned to the AVO collection full time.
AVO Classic Maduro Robusto Breakdown
- Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Oettinger Kelner Cigars (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5″ × 50 (Robusto)
- Price: $9.80 (MSRP)
The cigar is available in three sizes: Robusto (5″ x 50), No. 2 (6″ x 50), and No. 3 (7½” x 50), each packaged in boxes of 25 cigars.
The cigars come in a classic-style box with natural sides and a satiny black lid, emblazoned with the classic AVO Cigars logo that is quite striking yet maintaining classic simplicity. The classic AVO band, with black and gold lettering, stands out nicely against the dark wrapper, enticing you to reach into the box and grab one! The cigars themselves are rugged looking. The nice oily chocolate brown wrapper has mostly invisible seams and a little bit of tooth. A fine vein structure is accompanied by several bumps, which give the cigar its hearty appearance. The robusto is firm to the touch from foot to cap, with no detectable soft spots.
Aroma coming from the foot is a combination of dark fruits, plum, and black cherry, with a little bit of oak on the finish. Pre-light draw, which is right on the money, is predominately black cherry, with hints of oak and floral in the background.
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Upon initial light, the first few puffs are full of baker’s chocolate, plum, and molasses, with a little bit of cabinet spice on the finish. The retrohale, while smooth and creamy, is full of fresh-ground black pepper and campfire. It is a dark fruit, sweet, and smoky start. The draw is very good, easily allowing a mouthful of smoke on a single puff. The ash is bright white and very tightly packed, indicating the tobacco here is from a very nutrient-rich soil, as well as being very carefully rolled. Nostalgia hits at this moment and I put some jazz on the playlist as I picture Avo sitting at his piano as a smoldering cigar rests in the ashtray on top. The cigar is right on the edge of medium-full in terms of strength and body at this point.
As the robusto moves along, the sweetness of the molasses fades a little, and a walnut note comes into play. This is more like walnut shells than the nuts themselves, as it does have a slight amount of bitterness to it. This note is battling with the dark fruit and the chocolate to be the dominant flavor. I am intrigued as they trade off for the lead, with the cigar never really settling into one specific profile in this region of the experience. The campfire is now creeping onto the palate on the draw, and is still very prominent on the retrohale, as is the fresh-ground pepper (which is increasing in intensity but not in a major way). The cigar is still sitting on the lower end of medium-full in strength and body. As I sit back and take a sip of my review drink of choice—Topo Chico—I am finding myself craving a nice pour of aged rum to pair with this cigar.
Coming to the end, the sweetness is completely gone. The cigar has become spicy and earthy, with the pepper dominating, adding damp earth, added campfire, and now espresso to round out the profile. The smoke coming from the cigar has a charred wood intensity to it that literally smells like a bonfire in the backyard. Fortunately, the retrohale has leveled off in intensity with a nice pepper burn and campfire on the finish, keeping the cigar at the lower end of the medium/full range, which is where the cigar ends.
Would I smoke this cigar again?
Most likely I will revisit this cigar. While the flavor profile does not put it in the realm of what I would consider an everyday cigar, I think AVO accomplished their goal of bringing back something special here, and it would be a perfect fit when desiring something a little different than the status quo.
- The AVO Classic and AVO Classic Maduro blends famously contain 25-year-aged Dominican tobaccos within the filler recipe.
- Of the three sizes introduced in 2020, I prefer the Robusto over the Toro (No. 2) over the Churchill (No. 3).
- Flavor: Medium / Full
- Strength: Medium / Full
- Body: Medium / Full
- Black cherry
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Aged rum | Belgian tripel | Mojito | Mineral water
- Purchase Recommendation: 10-pack
- Unique flavor profile
- Not overly strong for a maduro
- Easy to find a beverage pairing
- Somewhat one-dimensional after the first inch
- Middle of the cigar fought to settle into a profile