At cigar maker Avo Uvezian’s 80th birthday celebration this summer in Santiago, Dominican Republic, many descriptions of his latest creation were uttered. While turning an Avo 80th Anniversary Limited Edition in his hand after savoring his first few puffs, one attendee noted, “It’s like a Mercedes sedan with 600 horsepower.” That may have been the most colorful assessment of the cigar, and perhaps the most accurate.
Indeed, those familiar with Avo cigars may be shocked by their first taste of the 80th Anniversary. The brand is best known for blends that are flavorful yet pleasing to the delicate palate. But while the 80th Anniversary has all the depth of flavor that Avo smokers have come to expect, it earns a place among 2006’s stoutest smokes, at least upon ignition. The cigar mellows a bit as it shortens, revealing the complex flavor of its six different tobaccos.
Why the swing to a stronger blend? “For the 80th Anniversary, I wanted to create something that makes a mark. Anybody can make a mild cigar,” Uvezian explained during an interview at the 2006 Retail Tobacco Dealers of America convention in Las Vegas in July. “This blend has four different Dominican fillers, with a concentration of ligero leaves—the ones that come from the top of the plant. Ligero means ‘lighter,’ but that’s a misnomer, because those leaves are the strongest.”
Uvezian and Hendrik Kelner, master blender for Davidoff, which owns the Avo brand, chose a leathery, matte Ecuadorean sun-grown wrapper to shroud the filler and binder. “This is a very special wrapper,” Uvezian said. “Most wrapper leaves are grown under netting to soften the sunlight. But Ecuador has a cloudy climate, and the clouds act like netting. Growing the wrappers without netting gives you a different flavor.
“It’s a little bit strong now,” Uvezian continued, “but in six months it will be perfect.” Many guests at his birthday party in Santiago agreed; some informed us that they had secured most of their 80th Anniversary cigars in their humidors until fall.
Avo Cigars offers the 80th Anniversary in one size: a 6 x 52 belicoso, which resembles a torpedo shape but has a shorter taper. The box, priced at about $430, has an unusual leather covering and contains three trays of eight cigars each. Avo will produce only 8,000 boxes. The company also is offering 80 humidors that were built to mark the birthday. Priced at $2,000 and autographed by Uvezian, each contains 80 limited-edition cigars: 20 each of the 75th Anniversary, the Avo 22, the Limited Edition 5, and the 80th Anniversary.
To the question of whether the 80th Anniversary Limited Edition will be its creator’s swan song, Uvezian responded with an emphatic no. “I speak nine languages,” he said, “and a word for ‘retire’ doesn’t exist in any of them except English. I hope we’ll do something really special on my 90th birthday, too.”
Avo’s piquant 80th Anniversary Limited Edition is a blend of four Dominican fillers encased in a matte Ecuadorean sun-grown wrapper.