If the AVO Classic No. 2 Natural from Davidoff were a dessert, it would be vanilla crème brûlée. Milky, smooth, rich, and undeniably creamy, both of these indulgences pack unassuming appearances hiding folds of flavors that are always on point.
Like crème brûlée, the AVO Classic No. 2 Natural is built to provide an experience that can be savored universally and, like its dessert doppelganger, is just as readily available.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the wildly popular AVO line, these cigars are named after famed jazz pianist and cigar connoisseur, Avo Uvezian, the result of his collaborative work with longtime former Davidoff master blender Hendrik Kelner.
For nearly thirty years the camaraderie between these two men would spawn an entire line of Davidoff/AVO cigars, as well as limited anniversary releases, and a legacy that cannot be duplicated. From their inception in 1988 to the modern world of today, critics and weekend cigar smokers alike have praised AVO Cigars for the refined smoking experience they provide, and the impeccable construction that Davidoff is known for offering in its products.
Like all of the cigars within the Classic line from AVO, the No. 2 Natural consists of an Ecuadorian Connecticut shade-grown wrapper, and a blend of aged Dominican tobacco in the filler and binder. The No. 2 cigar type that we will be reviewing today rocks a snazzy 6 x 50 toro size, and can be had in a broad range of styles and sizes.
Here is why this mild/medium strength cigar continues to be one of the top go-to smokes for beginners and experienced cigar smokers alike, and how like a perfectly constructed crème brûlée, it never fails to impress.
Straight out of the cellophane, AVO’s Classic No. 2 Natural oozes with class. The AVO band, with its signature inscription, reflective inlays, and jazzy, art deco influenced font sit snuggly atop a ruddy, reddish-brown Connecticut shade-grown wrapper with creamy, naturally sweet unlit aromas.
Like anything to come out of Davidoff of Geneva’s Dominican production facilities, the construction of this cigar is borderline immaculate. The slightly veiny cigar wrapper winds tightly around the premium cigar blend of binder and filler, just supple enough to offer a smooth draw from the rounded cap once cut.
Unlit pulls tease notes of mild spice and a distinct sweetness that mirrors the cigar’s aroma. Even before being lit, it is obvious that this is going to be a smooth smoking experience.
Tobacco Nerd Note: Avo Uvezian may have first come into cigar prominence when the AVO line was launched in 1988, but his cigar story started long before that. Born in Lebanon, educated at Juilliard, and turned onto cigar culture while playing shows in Puerto Rico, Uvezian lived a life that many of us can only fathom. A larger-than-life character, Uvezian would continue to travel, play music, and preach his passion for cigars up until his death at the age of 91 in 2017.
Once fired up with a torch lighter, the No. 2 Natural from AVO offers distinct nutty flavors that quickly transition to a milky sweetness that is almost like a toasted marshmallow. Oh who are kidding. That’s crème brûlée and you know it.
As the cigar is consumed by flame, it becomes apparent that all of that “constructive criticism” from earlier is indeed right on point. This cigar burns beautifully. Even combustion, clean draws, ash that builds and holds its form for the entire first half of the barrel, and plumes of billowy smoke all make for one hell of a lavish smoking experience.
Mouthfeel and body are both rich and loaded with toasty undertones, with the Dominican long-filler tobacco’s creamy sweetness enticing you to keep going. It’s a fantastic start to a cigar flavor profile that makes you want to go back for another puff and leaves you wondering what the second half will offer.
“With his passion for jazz, an irresistible charm, and an appetite for new experiences, Avo Uvezian became a composer of fine cigars. As a way of life, he created rare and beautiful moments to be savored and shared by all.” -Davidoff of Geneva
Tobacco Nerd Note: As the story goes, Avo Uvezian was first introduced to Davidoff's chief cigar maker, Hendrik "Henke" Kelner, in 1987. The two men quickly took a liking to one another, as the two shared a mutual passion for tobacco and good music. Uvezian’s first cigar collaborations with Kelner were tentatively launched under the Bolero label in San Juan later that year, with the name being switched to AVO shortly thereafter for its major debut in New York City.
Tobacco Nerd Note: Seven years after launching the AVO brand, Davidoff purchased all distribution rights to the jazz musician’s exclusive line of cigars. As Avo Uvezian continued to travel and promote the line of premium tobacco products via an exclusive contract with Davidoff of Geneva, the brand experienced exponential growth in sales. From 1987 to 1997 alone, the company went from producing 5,000 cigars to around 3.2 million in-house at Davidoff’s Oettinger Kelner Cigars Factory in the Dominican Republic.
The Second Half
Reaching the halfway point, AVO’s Classic No. 2 Natural takes a slight turn toward the dry side and begins to impart a slightly leathery taste. It’s a nice transition from mild to medium, and being that the cigar’s sweetness is still there, makes for a very smooth shift into mid-gear.
Retronasal exhales prove that the Classic No. 2 Natural is almost completely devoid of bitterness or strong cigar undertones, even when the flavor starts to present more potent attributes. Complexity may not be this premium cigar blend’s strong suit, but construction, combustion, and cleanliness are a forte, which is precisely what one can expect from anything within the AVO portfolio.
As the crème brûlée of cigars nears its end, a notable amount of earthiness becomes apparent, coupled with a peppery, almost tart aftertaste. As the oils within the tobacco intensify, sweet waves of rich flavors from the previous portions of the cigar build upon the palate, creating a fitting final closure to the 6-inch long smoke.
From the first whiff to licking the spoon clean, the Classic No. 2 Natural from AVO offers a fantastic cigar experience. Construction, flavor transitions, strength, aroma, burn rate, ash color, profile, and appearances all earn this cigar flavor profile solid points in our book, and a much-deserved spot in the Klaro Cigars monthly cigar subscription.
Is this the most decadent thing you’ll ever offer your olfactory senses? Hell naw. But for as unassuming and ubiquitous as the AVO Classic No. 2 Natural might be, the smoking experience it provides is anything but boring.
Easy enough to be enjoyed by the inexperienced smoker, yet purposeful to the point where it can keep even a veteran cigar snob amused, it is no wonder that the AVO brand became one of the greatest cigar success stories of all time.
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut Shade-Grown
Wrapper Shade: Natural
Binder: Dominican Republic
Filler: Dominican Republic
Origin: Dominican Republic
Strength: Mild - Medium
Ring Gauge: 50
Smoke Time: 45-60 minutes