For over a decade now Avo Uvezian has been dropping a limited edition cigar annually. While this would be considered redundant from many manufactures, it’s fair to say that nobody really minds that Avo has done it. While I haven’t had the pleasure of smoking every one, I’ve covered the vast majority of them, and they all have been nothing less than superb. Last years limited edition, the Avo Dominant 13th was, in my opinion, arguably one of the best cigars Avo has ever made.
This years release is the Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight, and today we’ll be finding out if it lives up to the bar that has been set by its predecessors. This years edition is a Dominican Puro, and features the Davidoff exclusive Yamasa wrapper rolled in a beautiful belicoso shape. The number 8 holds quite a bit of significance in the marketing of this cigar. First and foremost, Mr. Avo Uvezian has turned 88 years old this year. Avo is a musician by trade, and is famous for his passion for the piano. For you musicians out there, the correlation should have already been made; there are 88 keys to a grand piano. 8,888 boxes of the Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight are being produced, 888 of which will be signed by Avo himself. There are 88 exclusive Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight Cigar events scheduled, with one of those being right here at Cigar King on Friday, April 25th! Additionally, 1,888 Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight ashtrays have been made to be paired alongside the cigar. Having seen it in person, it is a beautiful ashtray. The icing on the cake is the grand piano display for select retail stores, of which only 488 were made.
Let’s fire up the 88 and hear the tune to which it plays.
Cigar: Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight
Size: 6×52 Belicoso
Wrapper: Dominican Yamasa
Binder: Dominican Olor/Criollo
Filler: Piloto Viso, Piloto Ligero, San Vicente Ligero, Corojo/Olor, and Criollo.
Appearance and Pre-light Aroma:
The Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight is wrapped in a beautiful and elegant beige wrapper, lined with subtle dark veins. The wrapper does have a discernible bit of oil, but it seems to be deeply soaked into the wrapper. The outer texture is fairly coarse and toothy, and you can feel the small veins running throughout the cigars length.
The aromas of the Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight are exceedingly subtle, mainly consisting of floral and soil notes. While subtle, these notes do have a rich tone to them. There is a distinct muted sweetness, similar to that of raisins. Overall, not terribly uncommon for an Avo.
Oh, good lord. Call it premature, call it romanticism, call whatever you’d like; just a few puffs in and it’s safe to say that Avo has done it again. Upon taking a puff, an instantaneous wave of silky smooth smoke glazes over the palate, characterized by a rich and buttery texture. Notes of wood, and floral grass, with gentle dry hay in the finish. The usual Avo floral notes are also on display, but toned down in comparison to some of the regular lines.
Strength remains mild, while body and flavor are exceptionally dominant. A dose of the signature Davidoff musk has started to develop, acting as a complimentary equalizer to the entire profile. The body has become creamier, and ‘wetter’ in a sense. What might be defined as muted salt lingers cleanly on the finish. The profile of the Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight is eloquently balanced, with absolutely nothing rough around the edges. All flavors are given adequate room to breath, and more importantly, are able to work in synchronicity to bring out the best nuances of each other.
The final third sees the emergence of a rounded out nutmeg, and an increase in oak. A shift on the emphases of the profile has occurred, with most of the higher floral and buttery notes receding, and the more earthy grass notes taking the lead. Retrohaling the Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight sends a wave of warm smoke through the nose, with hints of muted red pepper and leather being picked up. The body has once again dried a bit, while still remaining creamy. The Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight has a truly remarkable capacity to really soak into and stimulate your palate. It’s something that really has to be experienced.
Burn and Construct:
As should come as no surprise, the Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight is superbly constructed. A near perfect roll, with seamless roll lines. Packed just right and rolled perfectly, the draw is ever so slightly on the lose side, but yields waves of lusciously rich smoke. The tobacco does burn surprisingly quick; the first third had been smoked through in what felt like a blink of an eye. Not much you can do about that, I suppose.
The Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight had its work cut out for it. Last years limited edition, the Dominant 13th, was widely accepted as one of the best releases of 2013, and ranked No. 2 on our own cigars of the year list. The Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight has indeed managed to live up to the expectations, and dare I say; exceeded them. This is a cigar that has direction, this is a cigar that has vision. Everything about it is vibrant and full of life; from the packaging and the bands, to the smell of the foot and the way it smokes all the way down to the band.
In a day and age when there are hundreds of ‘good’ cigars on the market, it’s rare to find something so far above the rest of the pack that can truly spark the kind of passion and enthusiasm we all yearn so dearly for. Both the Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight and last years Avo Dominant 13th are able to accomplish this. The Dominant 13th is earthier and more rustic, while the new Eighty-Eight is more pungent in certain respects, but more refined as whole. Both are truly spectacular cigars, and I do not regret my box purchases of either. The Avo LE14 Eighty-Eight will appeal to a broad range of cigar smokers; mild enough for the casual smoker to handle, and bursting with flavor and nuance to captivate the serious enthusiasts.
Stars: 4.95 out of 5