Cigar of the Moment: AVO Heritage

Coming to your palates, straight from the Davidoff cigar rolling factory within the Dominican Republic, is a premium cigar blend that prefers throwing elbows over witty insults. A cigar that pops you on the ass with a wet towel in the locker room for now good reason. You know. That guy.

Whereas the delightfully creamy Avo Classic No. 2 was on par with many a mild cigar, the Heritage line from the same manufacturer is a distinctly wilder sort of character. This darker, sun-grown throwback cigar is more akin to the sharply dressed party guest at the dinner banquet who secretly spikes the punch when no one is looking.

The Avo name on each of these cigar bands represents the life and work of famed songwriter and jazz pianist, Avo Uvezian. A man who was just as vibrant as he was creative, who played a song for Frank Sinatra in 1966, and then changed both title and lyrics to meet the crooner’s gtpreferences. The renamed song was a little ditty called “Strangers in the Night.”

As for the cigar side of Avo Uvezian’s life, premium tobacco was a constant staple from the moment he moved to the Caribbean when he was a young man. But the Avo brand came much later, after Uvezian and Davidoff’s former master blender, Hendrik Kelner, became friends.

What began in 1988 as a fun little collaborative effort between the house of Davidoff of Geneva and Avo Uvezian quickly turned into a gargantuan grand slam when the cigar boom blasted off in the 1990s.

Today, pretty much anything bearing the Davidoff/AVO cigar name is the sign of a solid cigar type. Yet this particular Heritage blend might not appeal to everyone, especially those who are expecting a mild-to-medium smoking experience. 

Unlit Impressions

Boasting more veins than Hugh Jackman posing as Wolverine, this cigar appears far more menacing than the much milder Avo Classic No. 2 Natural review cigar I puffed a while back. 

It’s a very nice Colorado Maduro color that reminds me of a chocolate labrador retriever my neighbor owned when I was a kid. Fortunately, the Avo Heritage smells a hell of a lot better than the dog.

Nasally, there’s this unusual cinnamon and apple spice note that marches right alongside the average unlit impressions of leather, cedar, and loamy soil that tends to accompany a premium cigar blend of this capacity. It’s not a bold note. But it’s definitely there. Surely a byproduct of the cigar type’s extended fermentation periods following curing and sorting.

Jawing a bit on the freshly cut yet still unlit end of the cigar, I discovered something even more odd. What I first categorized as the typical pepper, leather, and earth aroma one expects from stronger, sun-grown cigars, contains traces of vanilla and Jamaican jerk spice as well. Dry pulls are indeed peppery, but they are not spicy, or coarse either. Just a rich, festive, heavily fermented island spice note coming straight from the foot.

From a squeeze standpoint, the Heritage Toro does feel a tad spongy. Not supple, but loosely rolled from the Dominican binder inward. That, or the roller on duty grabbed a smaller long-filler leaf and no one noticed. Either way, this appears to be a consistent issue that many other cigar smokers have noted over the years.

Tobacco Nerd Note: The Avo line of cigars may have hit shelves in 1988, but Avo Uvezian’s life began in Lebanon. Juilliard-educated, and trained to speak a dozen languages, Uvezian was a man hopelessly enthralled by all things jazz. Uvezian traveled more than most rock bands, and he promoted both his music and the premium cigar blends bearing his name all the way up until his death in 2017 at the age of  91.

Initial Smoke

Shelving all of the fancy cigar smoker jargon for a moment, it’s time to embrace what this cigar truly has to offer: really rich tobacco from the best growing regions on the planet. 

There’s this stigma that the tobacco hailing from the Dominican Republic is this mild, completely unassuming sort of smoking experience. Yes, there is a massive amount of mild tobacco coming out of this divided island (Macanudo brunch cigar anyone?), but there’s also a ton of heavyweight long-filler, full-strength tobacco here too. Toast the foot of a 1994 20th Anniversary blend from La Flor Dominicana and you’ll see what we mean.

In a freshly lit Avo Heritage, this translates to almost a candied caramel apple flavor right out the gate. But it’s a cigar flavor profile that’s been spiked with a very enjoyable, spicy, toffee-like tobacco taste. 

Definitely far more of a connecting left hook than a consistent jab during the first round with this one, whereas the Avo Classic No. 2 prefers to save all of its strength for the final round.

The Second Half

As for retro nasal exhales, as well as any whiffs from the barrel, Avo’s Heritage line definitely leans more toward the peppery, toasted oak side of things. Matching the unlit impressions perfectly, second-half smoking impressions are a pleasant medium-to-full experience, with a loose pull providing sizable plumes of smoke.

Whereas the Classic line from AVO was a bouquet blend of Ecuadorian Connecticut shade-grown cigar wrapper magic and milder internals, the Heritage line from Avo/Davidoff is a far more macho smoke.

Boasting a pungent, nearly rye-like bready blend of aged Dominican tobaccos, both the long-filler and binder duties of this premium cigar blend produce a dry, and slightly hot mouthfeel. Not a parched palate by any form, but a toasty, tingly tongue nonetheless.

Also, in true Avo form, the burn speed and combustion levels show zero sign of stalling as the smoke progresses. That being said, the loose feel of the binder, and the sponginess of the filler within did not dissipate as the smoke went on, which caused me to keep a wary eye on the cigar’s ash.

Fortunately, the sun-grown Ecuadorian cigar wrapper holds the fine, bakery inspired flavors from the first half nicely. Coupled with the cedary, toasted walnut-like aroma toward the halfway point, the center of this cigar type’s barrel is pretty damn on point.

Parting Puffs

Bolder on almost every front, this darker, sun-grown smoke bomb is an ideal option for those who favor an easy pull, along with plenty of front-end cigar flavor profile potency. 

Smoking session complete, I find myself struggling to recommend this cigar type over its far milder Classic No. 2 Toro sibling. Yes, it’s flavorful, pleasantly pungent, smoke-rich, and fairly balanced in its old-school, full-bodied approach. Yet still, there is something missing.

Nothing inherently wrong or out of place per se, but there is definitely something amiss, as the premium cigar blend pulls its punch at the last moment. This is particularly apparent toward the final stretch, where parting puffs are sharp and the smokey mouthfeel turns chalky, likely due to the dryness of the cigar flavor profile hitting its crescendo.

So if the AVO Classic No. 2 Natural were crème brûlée, Davidoff’s Avo Heritage would be a hanger steak with a gourmet reduction sauce. It’s good. But not something you would want to recommend to everyone. 

The Heritage Toro is by no means a bad cigar; it’s just not magnificient. It lacks that special element that’s as memorable as the man whose name is on the cigar band. Perhaps aging that Dominican binder in a repurposed rum cask might do the trick…

Shape: Parejo

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun-Grown

Wrapper Shade: Colorado Maduro

Binder: Dominican

Filler: Dominican

Origin: Dominican Republic

Strength: Medium-Full

Length: 6

Ring Gauge: 50

Smoke Time: 60-90 minutes

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