Avo 85th Anniversary Limited Edition 2011

Drew Estate

When March 22nd rolls around, you can be assured of two things. The first, it’s Avo Uvezian’s birthday. And the second, it’s time to visit your local retailer to pick up the next in the ongoing series of Avo’s limited edition anniversary cigars. And for a lucky few, there may be a third thing, you might have the opportunity to meet the man himself at a nearby Anniversary Tour stop, and watch him play a little piano. Last year I had the pleasure of seeing him play, but this year it was Jerry’s chance. (To see if it’s in the cards for you, you can take a look the 2011 tour schedule here.)

As the name indicates, 2011 marks Avo’s 85th birtday. He celebrates it this year with a cigar that is a departure from the potent, larger ring gauge smokes of the last few annual limited editions. But I’ll let Avo’s marketing people describe it, it is, after all, what they’re paid to do. Here’s an excerpt from the recent press release:

Cigar luminary Avo Uvezian is celebrating his 85th birthday with the release of his Limited Edition Anniversary Cigar, the “85th”. The “85th” marks the tenth annual limited edition release from AVO Cigars, a tradition the legendary cigar composer started to commemorate since his 75th birthday.

The “85th Anniversary” presents itself in a majestic and charming cigar format – a noble ”Diademas” – and is limited to 100,000 cigars worldwide with 60,000 cigars for the US market.

The sophisticated black, silky-matte-lacquered box with the impressive golden print of the “Avo 85th Anniversary” logo underlines the gracefulness and the non-interchangeable note and denomination of this cigar.

The well-balanced combination of the San Vicente and Piloto tobaccos enfolded by a Peruvian binder and perfected with a special Sun grown Dominican wrapper as well as the gorgeous Diademas format make it an outstanding cigar. The “Avo 85th Anniversary” is of medium strength, offers complex aromas and is an extraordinary smoking experience. A cigar no aficionado should miss!!

Reading that really makes you one to smoke one, doesn’t it? It’s a good thing I was planning to do just that.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 5/8 x 50
Wrapper: Dominican Sun Grown
Binder: Peru
Filler: Dominican San Vicente and Piloto Cubano
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Source: Purchased by reviewer
Price: MSRP $17.50

The Pre-Smoke
It may be a 50 ring gauge stick, but side-by-side with last year’s LE 10 it might as well be a lancero. But it isn’t just comparatively slender, the diadema is also elegant looking, with a smooth, flawless wrapper and few medium-to-fine veins. (Though in one case, an abundance of twisted veins resulted in a slightly less perfect look.)

The cigars were consistently firm to the touch, and had a musty hay and compost wrapper aroma. There was some variation from stick to stick in the firmness of the cold draw, but the taste was similar: raisin and cedar.

The Burn
I was a little surprised by burn issues I experienced with the Avo 85th. During the middle third almost every cigar burned crookedly, and required a correction or two. (Generally the beginning and ending thirds were fine.) One stick went out about halfway up the initial tapered foot, and another had a snug draw that didn’t open up until the final third.

In all other ways, the cigars seemed fine. Most of them drew well and produced solid ashes and stayed lit.

The Flavor
As with the burn properties, there were some inconsistencies in flavor that bear mention. What follows is a composite of the majority of the sticks. The odd smokes out had a grassier, less rich profiles, and were a little lighter in body.

As the Avo 85th began its journey up the tapered foot, it produced a rich caramel wood sweetness. I noted a raisin flavor here momentarily that would not return until the middle third. Hints of grass began to appear a little later, followed by cream and caramel.

Around the beginning of the second third began to notice a slight heat beginning to build toward the back of my mouth, and the cigar really had my mouth watering. The previous section seemed like a warm up for the incredible combination of cream, caramel, raisin, grass and aromatic cedar that came into play here.

The cigar made a return to a predominantly grass and aromatic cedar medley at the end, losing much (but not all) of the creamy characteristics that ruled the preceding third. It didn’t however, lose the sweetness, giving the grass element a candied taste at times. It was a beautiful conclusion to a cigar that was hard to set down.

The Price
The price is what you’d expect from an Avo limited edition cigar. It’s a little more expensive than previous editions, but that seems to reflect the added difficultly of rolling the Diademas format. I don’t see the extra buck or two stopping fans of Avo’s anniversary cigars from buying.

The Verdict
Despite some flavor and burn inconsistencies, I rather enjoyed the Avo 85th Anniversary. When it was on, it was full of rich, subtle and decadent flavor. And even when there were issues, it was still a good smoke. It’s definitely a cigar I will try again and buy again. However, I’m going to let the remaining half of my box rest a while in the humidor before revisiting. Historically, Avo limited editions have aged very well, so even if time doesn’t resolve the burn issues, it can’t help but improve the flavor. (I suspect it will do both.)

I do recommend trying the Avo 85th, though it may not appeal to the same crowd that loved last year’s fuller, more potent LE 10. On the other hand, Avo fans that didn’t care for the girth and the potency of the previous installment will probably find the medium-bodied 85th more to their liking.

Liked It: Yes
Buy It Again: Yes
Recommend It: Yes

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.

Ortega Cigars