Taking a trip south on the compass of the US, AVO Cigars introduces the regional-only AVO Regional South Edition, one of four limited-edition cigars to emerge from a series that was first revealed at the 2019 PCA Trade Show in Las Vegas. This series has gone from east and west (2019), to north and south (2020), with each cigar being tailor made for the respective region of the US. As such, the cigars are offered exclusively to retailers of the given region.
As stated in my review of the North Edition, this line of cigars brings out my competitive side, giving me the feeling that I need to declare, at least in my opinion, which cigar/region is best. Having the opportunity to previously smoke three of the four thus far, it is exciting for me to finally be able to smoke the fourth and final release and hopefully come up with that clear-cut favorite point on the compass.
AVO Regional South Edition Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Dominican Republic (San Vicente Visus | San Vicente Seco)
- Peru (Seco)
- Honduras (Jamastran Seco)
- Factory: Oettinger Kelner Cigars (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Limited Edition (2,000 boxes of 10 cigars for USA)
- Vitola: 7″ × 52 (Torpedo)
- Price: $14.00 (MSRP)
Like the North, East, and West Regional Editions that preceded it, this cigar comes in one vitola, in this case being a 7″ x 52 torpedo. Differing from the Dominican-heavy North, the South uses a four-country blend, with Ecuadorian Connecticut tobacco standing out on the rap sheet, being incorporated into both the wrapper and binder.
One of the first things I noticed, which was a shared trait with the other Regional Editions, is the compass rose graphic on the outside of the boxes—lining up to make one full compass. Next are the bands. The more I think about it, the more confusing it gets for me. This cigar has a blue band with a snowboarder on it. A snowboarder, on a cigar band, for a cigar that represents the South? Seriously? My initial thoughts on the color/graphics swapping concept were that it was a neat marketing concept to tie the releases together. But the more I think of it, the less sure I am that it was the intent, and without the box to rely on, it’s just simply confusing.
As with previous releases, the cigars are neatly arranged in cello in the heavy paper boxes. Getting to the cigar, this one is is every bit as attractive as the North, and has the initial appearance of being quite large! Davidoff (parent company of AVO) is well known for putting out exceptional-looking products and this cigar is no exception. It has a beautiful brown wrapper, slightly darker than medium, with a nice oily sheen. The body of the cigar is slightly bumpy, with quite a few raised veins. The seams here are visible, though the cap is very cleanly applied and seamless. There is some definite tooth and and an overall ruggedness to the wrapper. The cigar has just the slightest amount of give, letting me know it is very well-filled, as can be expected with this brand.
Click images below for full resolution
The aromas coming from the foot are a mix of cedar, hay, and nuts, with a fruity sweetness on the finish. The pre-light draw, which is just a notch on the firm side, gives more of the same, with a little bit of a white pepper, cabinet spice-like finish.
The cigar starts off with notes of barnyard, cedar, and cabinet spice, with a little bit of creaminess on the finish. The retrohale goes full-on black pepper right from the start, and is actually a little detracting from the mildness of the core flavors. Getting a little further in, a toasted almond note appears, along with a cardamom spice. The black pepper in the retrohale has tamed, showing notes of cinnamon and baked bread, with some white pepper on the finish. Overall, at this early point in the cigar, the flavor is earthy and creamy, with the cabinet spice notes on the finish adding a cinnamon spice element. The burn is a little wavy but the draw is right on point, producing copious amounts of thick smoke. Strength and body are in the upper end of medium.
Moving along, the cigar starts to take on more of a dry profile, with earth, dry cedar, and hay pushing the barnyard, mustiness, and cabinet spices to the background, but not out of the picture. The toasted almond is still present, and black pepper is also making a comeback, now noticeable on the tongue as well as the retrohale. While strength is not increasing at this point, the body of the cigar is, as it is starting to become quite peppery. Getting to about halfway, some bitter dark chocolate enters the game, and pairs off nicely with the pepper that is starting to build. The burn has gone slightly wonky here, but still not enough for a touchup; and the draw is still very good, producing heavy smoke output on each puff.
Coming to the finish of the cigar, not much changes. Pepper intensifies and becomes predominant, with the dark chocolate, earth, toasted almond, cedar, and hay still there, but barely noticeable. The bitterness from the dark chocolate is now noticeable on the retrohale as well, and actually helps smooth out the harshness of the black pepper that is predominant there as well. The creaminess from the start of the cigar is entirely gone, with the cigar finishing very dry and earthy.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
I am mixed on this one. In order to complete my “Four Points of the Compass,” I will have to smoke it again, along with the others. My initial thoughts, though, considering the South’s transition to a dry and earthy finish, are that this is not a cigar I would reach for on a normal basis.
- My rankings of the series, based on my personal experience from favorite to least is as follows:
East > North > West > South.
- Interestingly, both of these cigars (North and South) are being offered outside of the United States, with 2,250 boxes of the North and 2,100 boxes of the South being made available elsewhere around the world. This strikes me as a little odd, and takes away a little bit, in my opinion, from the true regional release vibe.
- Flavor: Medium / Full
- Strength: Medium
- Body: Medium / Full
- Black pepper
- Cedar (both dry and musty)
- Toasted almonds
- Cabinet spice
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Aged rum | Earl Grey tea | Dr Pepper
- Purchase Recommendation: fiver (though having the boxes would be cool from a swag standpoint)
- Good burn and draw
- Great concept for the entire line
- I just can’t get past the bands
- Finish with a dryness that is almost harsh
- Black pepper dominates