AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian 702
Binder: Mexican San Andrés
Filler: Nicaraguan Ometepe, Dominican Piloto Ligero, Dominican San Vicente Ligero, Dominican Hybrid Corojo/Olor Ligero, Dominican Criollo
Size: 6 x 50 Toro
Body: Medium/Full
Price: $16.00 MSRP ($10.00 at one online store)
Humidor Time: 5-6 Weeks
Number of Cigars Smoked: 2

1a

2a

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Today we take a look at the AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition.
Many thanks to the reader that sent me a couple of sticks.

BACKGROUND:
Date Released: April, 2015
Number of Cigars Produced: 3500 Boxes of 16
The Ecuadorian 702 wrapper is a three Cuban seed hybrid.

From a Cigar Aficionado article 3-20-2016:
“For the first time since 2001, Avo Uvezian will not be releasing a limited-edition birthday cigar with Davidoff this year.

“Instead, the company announced it is launching the new Improvisation Series, an annual limited-edition cigar meant to honor Avo the brand more than Avo the man.

“The first cigar in this new endeavor is called Avo Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition, a 6 inch by 50 ring gauge smoke that begins shipping on April 13.

“Blended by Davidoff master blender Henke Kelner, the cigar is a playoff of the recently repackaged Avo Classic blend, or as Davidoff puts it, a “cover.” While the Dominican filler tobaccos are the same ones found in the Classic, the binder was grown in Mexico’s San Andrés region and the wrapper leaf hails from Ecuador.

“The new cigar sells for $16 and comes packaged in 16-count boxes, of which only 3,500 have been produced.

“Whereas in past years Uvezian has toured the country to celebrate the release of his birthday cigar, there will be no tour for the Classic Covers.”

DESCRIPTION:
Beautifully oily. The wrapper is a conglomeration of mottled colors of caramel, medium brown, and milk chocolate. It is smooth and oily to the touch.
The rest of the stick is kind of a mess close up. Sloppy seams. Lots of intrusive veins. Sloppy triple cap. Bumpy and lumpy. Very hard, which worries me. And isn’t straight. It makes a slight parabolic curve as it lay on the table.

I’d expect better rolling techniques from not only a special birthday cigar and its price point of $16. Yet seeing the prices online plummet to $10 makes me think that Davidoff made too many and they aren’t selling. These days, 56,000 cigars released over a year ago is not a whole lotta love. And should have sold out in the first 3 months instead of hanging around for 18 months.

I should add I’m not a big AVO fan. It is an elitist cigar like Davidoff cigars. More panache and PR than being actual solid blends. I will be honest…I promise.

AROMAS AND COLD DRAW NOTES:
From the shaft, I can smell lovely floral notes made up of rose, honeysuckle, and jasmine. There are also notes of cocoa, spice, espresso, cedar, cinnamon, strong wood notes, butter, and creamy notes.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I smell…SEE ABOVE.
The cold draw presents flavors of chocolate, red pepper, malt, sweetness, cinnamon, cedar, light coffee touches, and nuts.

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is spot on for such a packed stick.
The red pepper is like an avalanche you can’t get out of the way for….almost smothering my palate.
As it cools down, flavors begin to emerge such as creaminess, a nice nut variation, malts, coffee, muskiness, caraway seeds, and a nice myriad of sweetness elements.

Strength is a strong medium body.
The upside of a limited production blend is that it sits around aging even more prior to purchase. I’m sure the cigar is much better than it was in the first three months of sale back 18 months ago. There is a certain amount of aging that can be tasted in the blend.

Speaking of which, someone sent me La Gloria Cubana Artesanos Retro Especial Cubano Habanero. Damn that’s a long name.
Anyway, this is another example of a limited production cigar that didn’t sell. It was released in late 2011 and they have just sat in warehouses turning their cellos yellow with oils. Originally, they were a $7-$8 cigar. Now they can be had for $4 and change. Even cheaper on Cbid.

Funny thing…I got my care package and each single cigar was in its own re-sealable bag. These were clearly promotional or event cigars. Each one had a card inside with a long story of how hard the blender and manufacturer worked on this blend. In fact, I only found three reviews. One said the stick was terrible, one said it wasn’t bad and the last gave it a rave review. All written in 2011. So I tried one hoping that I might get a taste of potential. Had to put it down. So the smart thing will let the sticks breathe for a month or two and try again. Fingers crossed I got something good.

The AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition is turning out to be a very pleasant experience. It wallows in its slow burn allowing me to savor each puff.

3a

I’ve reviewed only 8 AVO cigar blends. And my reaction to them was acey-deucy. Some weren’t bad, some weren’t good at all, and a couple passed the litmus test. Not a consistent brand. Yet pricing is normally sky high. Cigars for elitists. Like Davidoff.

I can’t remember a single cigar I’ve ever smoked worth $16. Maybe at $10, this cigar will prove worthy.
Transitions begin to occur at 1” burned. It’s taken a good 15 minutes to smoke that solitary inch. A good sign in my book.

The creaminess, spice, malts, and now some caramel, black tea, and nutmeg really shine.
Strength hits medium/full.

And as I near the second third, the blend breaks out into the land of Oz. Flavors pelting my palate like U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney shot Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old Texas attorney in the face while quail hunting. Did you know that S.O.B. Cheney never even apologized to Whittington for shooting him? What a tool.
Just an excuse to get political while trying to make an analogy about the blossoming flavors of the AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition.
I can say, unequivocally, that this blend is my all-time favorite AVO blend. Good stuff. And I haven’t even left the first third yet.

SECOND THIRD:
Smoke time is 35 minutes.
Great cigar.

I check all the online stores carrying the AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition. Every single one is selling them for MSRP. Except for Cigars International. $10. That’s it. And it is the same price for a single as the box price per single. That’s a deal. Cbid doesn’t carry them.

I hate using the overworked term flavor bomb but that is exactly what the AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition has become. I’d love to have a box of these cigars.
Complexity is blaring away at 128 decibels. Transitions are colliding at light speed force.
Brilliant cigar. Construction is impeccable and the char line is dead nuts.

4a

AVO blends are not known for their quick maturation process once you have them stored in your humidor. But this blend breaks that mold. I did smoke one a couple weeks after receipt and it was blah. Now…Yikes. What a great cigar. Would I pay $16 for it? Hell, no. But at $10, it is certainly worth opening up your moth infested wallet to score at least a 5 pack. The problem is that CI is only selling them in box format. Everyone else will sell you a single or 5 pack but at the MSRP price. What a conundrum.

Flavors that are dripping down my leg: Heavy malts, loads of creaminess, spiciness, bold nuttiness, baking spices, espresso, muskiness, smokiness, cocoa, black tea, cinnamon, cedar, buttery, oiliness on the lips, cookie sweetness, and caraway seeds (I can taste the rye bread).

I am at the halfway point. Blistering manna from the gods. Yeah, I’m digging it.
Smoke time is one hour 5 minutes.

At this rate, the AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition would have made my top 25 cigars of 2016 except for the fact it came out in 2015. A shame. Maybe I could make an exception.

As I quickly skim reviews from the time this cigar was released, almost all missed out on how good this cigar in the great hurry to get their reviews out in a timely manner.
No one allowed this cigar more than a few weeks rest before ginning up the laptop.
As a result, no one scored this cigar blend appropriately. Sometimes it pays off to be the last one on the block to review a cigar. You get the real lowdown instead of a hurried attempt to morph into the pack.
They all got it wrong. Scores were mostly below 90. And I will rate this cigar much higher.

5a

6a

I’ve got a pretty sophisticated palate from countless years of reviewing cigars 365 days per year. It takes a lot to impress me. I’m not special. You do anything every day for years and years, and you get good at your craft.
So, when I say this blend is blowing my toupee off my pate, I am earnest and sincere.

All AVO had to do was say on the box that the smoker needs to be patient and give the cigar its due by letting it acclimate to perfection. Instead, a huge number of smokers never gave it more than a couple months, or less, before lighting up. And they were disappointed.

Luckily, the AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition did a marvelous job of aging in their cellos for over a year and a half. I find most catalog cigars poop out after a year. Flavors are gone and the strength has mellowed too much.
Kelner knew what he was doing with this blend. But other smokers’ impatience now gives the rest of us a chance to buy in on a great cigar.

LAST THIRD:
Smoke time is one hour 25 minutes.
As the back of the secondary cigar band suggests, I am savoring every moment of this blend. Not one puff tastes like the previous one. It is like opening birthday presents.
Strength remains at medium/full.
But man, oh man, this is one smooth puppy.

There is a boat load of great $10 sticks out there. Especially, the boutique brands. If AVO and Davidoff weren’t so friggin greedy, these cigars would have sold better. And I wouldn’t be writing this review.

For the first time, I’m getting some char line blow back. Correction is needed.

A great cigar starts like being shot out of a cannon. And then proceeds to improve with each half inch. The AVO Classic Covers 2015 Limited Edition has accomplished this feat.

The blend has become super meaty with a very smoky back story. The spiciness has returned in the form of black pepper. It is like eating a very expensive steak. You know the type…a restaurant that charges $50 for a piece of meat and another $8 for a baked potato.

Nicotine kicks in and my brain is swirling.
I’ve never said this about any AVO blend but I can finally say that I am damn impressed and would gladly buy a box if a rich uncle died. Remember, the only deal you’ll find is at Cigars International. Even the usual boutique discount online stores sell the sticks for MSRP.
Get some.
Final smoke time is one hour 50 minutes.

RATING: 95

And now for something completely different:

I had my own TV show back in 1983. OK. It was on Public Access.
My partner was a hot shot radio DJ named Marshall Thomas. We hung out a lot. He and I did a lot of L.A. clubbing together. He introduced me to a lot of new great bands of the time.
We came up with the idea of getting some rock veterans and interview them within a 30 minute framework. He had contacts and so did I.

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Our first show was a total disaster. We had 3 guests. Two of the original members of the band, “The Larks.” They had a hit in 1964 with “The Jerk.” It went on to be a big dance step in the 60’s. One that made orthopedic doctors and chiropractors very happy. Doing the jerk nearly popped the discs out of your back. If I tried that move today, Charlotte would need to call 911 a few minutes later…and I’d be dead in an hour.

They had a new song they wanted to promote. It was on some obscure label. The successful days of The Larks were way behind them. The 80’s were not the heyday of classic concerts of 1950-1960’s R & B performers. A real shame because there were a lot incredible artists. Most never made it to the 21st Century when those tribute concerts became all the rage.

They would, only occasionally, do big Oldies but Goodies concerts. Their new song was an embarrassing Chuck Berry rip off. They showed up in matching pimp three piece suits with jet black dyed hair. They looked like clowns. The goal was to get them to lip sync to both their 1960’s hit, “The Jerk” and the same for their new release so they wanted to look sharp.

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The second guest was Richard Berry who wrote “Louie, Louie,” made famous by The Kingsmen in 1963. What we didn’t know was that Berry suffered from narcolepsy and constantly fell asleep during the interview. I yelled CUT more times than a moil doing a triple shift. (If you’re Jewish or know Jews, you will get this.)

We had a simple, but cool, set. We bought sheets of wood paneling and attached lots of 45 singles to them. We had a small riser with chairs. It was a nice comfy setting.

Just before The Larks got up to sing, Marshall said, “So fellas, would you like to set up the song up for us?”
Clearly confused, the two men got up out of their seats and started to move the furniture.
“CUT!!”
I came out from the booth and explained to the guys that Marshall wanted them to explain the song and how it came about, not move furniture. Oy Gevalt.

Then it was Richard Berry’s turn and he lip synced to his original version of “Louis, Louis.” He was barely awake during the song. Now the lyrics to “Louie Louie” are not difficult. But Berry’s lip syncing was so off that everyone in the booth couldn’t stop laughing. I went out and talked to Richard. Before I could finish, he told me to go fuck myself. I walked away shaking my head. After all, it was something he would have to live with; not me. Turned out, Berry was a real racist S.O.B. because the white man in the record industry really fucked him out of a lot of royalties. I know the feeling. But I hate everyone equally…not just white people. During the interview period, Berry was out cold the entire time. SNL couldn’t have written this sketch.

Our second show was classier. We had Darlene Love of The Blossoms fame and wife of Danny Glover in the “Lethal Weapon” movies; and Hall of Fame drummer, Hal Blaine.

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Darlene was in the mega hits girl group, “The Blossoms” during the 1960s. According to Wikipedia, “The Blossoms were probably the most successful unknown group of the ’60s. They made a career of singing backup for scores of artists from Paul Anka to Elvis Presley with a versatility that allowed them to be a choral group one minute and a surf sound doo wop group for Jan and Dean’s hits the next minute.”
Hal Blaine has a resume, that to this day, is unbelievable. In the years1981-1984, he became my mentor and close friend. Hal played in the famous L.A. Wrecking Crew on drums and recorded hundreds of hit tunes from The Monkees to the Mamas & Papas to Simon & Garfunkel to The Beatles.

In 1971, the Ed Sullivan Show did a Vegas spectacular completely dedicated to Nancy Sinatra. It was taped at her Las Vegas casino show. Big band behind her. Hal was on drums. The Blossoms sang back up. This was the perfect storm for our show having both on at the same time.

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In order to view the show, back in 1971, Hal went out and bought a $2500 Sony video player/recorder. Back then, video was a reel to reel tape machine. It also came with a heavy black and white monitor. He loaned them to me so I could take the whole shebang to a Hollywood studio to have the video transferred to ¾” video cassette.
As he was going through his 3rd divorce, he was living on his yacht in Marina Del Rey. I had to carry the recorder (25lbs) and the TV monitor (40lbs) from the yacht to the parking lot and then to the studio. When we were done, I brought it back. Hal asked me to hold on to it because there was no room on the boat. And he didn’t want to take it back to storage. So I schlepped it to the boat and back again for the second time.
I schlepped recorder and TV with me for the next 34 years…as a Hal Blaine memento. I eventually gave the monitor to a friend. I kept the video machine. Which, by the way, is in mint condition.

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The show went well and Darlene and Hal were lively guests. We showed several clips from the Nancy Sinatra show. Hal and Darlene turned out to be our best show.

Hal and I bonded and became my mentor for a couple of years doing me favors I would have never expected, or be able to pay back. If you want to check out his discography, go to Wikipedia. It will stun you. He even played on some Beatles tracks. And Ringo’s original kit was an exact duplicate of Hal’s. Hal refused to divulge to me which Beatle’s songs he played on. Drove me nuts. I’m guessing it was the “White Album” where it is common knowledge that Ringo had had enough of the band and missed out on most of the recording.
Really….look at the cymbal count, the diameters, and their placement. Look at the snare, tom, and kick. They are identical in height, diameter, and breadth.
And they are both Ludwig kits.

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We did a few more shows and then we just got busy doing other things. But I still have the shows on VHS but haven’t watched them in years. Someday, I will transfer them to DVD and not ruin my back doing so.

One side note…the PBS people were impressed with me. They offered me a gig as an associate producer. The pay was terrible. I had a recording studio to run and the Eddie Munster project. I so wanted to break into the TV/movie industry but starting at the bottom was out of the question. I would have had to give up everything. I had a large financial stake both in the Butch Patrick project and the recording studio. I just couldn’t walk away. We did a show for Dick Clark productions shot in Dick Clark’s private office. Based on my cooperation and background, they too offered me a position. I wanted to hang myself. The money was shit. I owned a house and a recording studio.
In retrospect, I should have taken either the PBS or Dick Clark gig.
Who knows? I may have become Charlie Rose or Ryan Seacrest.
Kohn…Out.

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2 replies

  1. I bought a whole box for 100 @ cigarbid

  2. Dear Katman,
    Just found your reviews today, and I must say I really appreciate what you do in a cigar, and even more so, your sardonic writing style. I started cigars in the late eighties as a young Navy man of 19 when you could get a box of good Tabacalaras in the Philippines for $20. I drank tequila then- now I really appreciate single malt Scotch, how our tastes change.
    I have always been fascinated by Avo, probably because I could never afford more than one as a young man. I retired from the Navy after 23 years, and am now getting ready to graduate college in May (Before I turn 50!).
    I now have asthma so I only smoke on special occasions. Thank you for your reviews. I am buying a box of these AVO Classic Covers 2015 as a gradation present to myself. Keep up the great reviews, and don’t change your style a bit!
    All best,
    George
    P.S. Ever try a Reposado 96′ ? They are my favorite. I, like you let them sit in my humidor for three to six months before lighting up. Pretty big ring at 58. They are Solomon style and I see you are not a huge fan. I can send you some, if you’d like- G