AVO 30 Years Maduro | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Broadleaf Connecticut Maduro
Binder: Dominican
Filler: Dominican
Size: 6 x 50
Strength: Medium
Price: $10.50

Today we take a look at the AVO 30 Years Maduro.

From Halfwheel.com:
“In 2015, Davidoff of Geneva USA trimmed the AVO portfolio in half, discontinuing the AVO Maduro and AVO Signature lines. Now—as part of the brand’s 30th Anniversary celebration—both are back in limited quantities.

“AVO Maduro will head to shelves in April and is limited to just 600 boxes of four different sizes. The blend remains true to the original: a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper over a Dominican binder and Dominican fillers.

“The packaging keeps the basic design of the original: black boxes featuring five rows of five cigars. However, the font has been updated, the main bands changed and a secondary band added.

“AVO Signature will return in July. It’s described as the personal blend of Avo Uvezian, the late founder of the eponymous brand. The blend is based on the AVO 75th Anniversary, which debuted in 2001. It uses an Ecuadorian wrapper over a Dominican binder and Dominican filler.

“It’s limited to three sizes with production capped at 1,500 boxes of 10 cigars.”

Robusto: 5 x 50 $9.50
No.2: 6 x 50 $10.50
No.3: 7.5 x 50 $11.00
Piramides: 7 x 52 $11.00

A smart looking stick devoid of seams but covered in small veins. I can feel soft spots up and down the cigar. And a very hard spot beneath the main cigar band. The toothy little bastard is the color of gingerbread and coffee.
The triple cap is near flawless but is off kilter instead of aesthetically stunning.

From the shaft, I can smell big floral notes, cream, custard, caramel, dark chocolate, malt, black pepper, cedar, and touches of Worcestershire sauce; notes of molasses, tamarind, and garlic.

From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell barnyard, black pepper, malt, coffee, loads of sweet things, potent cinnamon, cream, chocolate, and garlic.

The cold draw presents flavors of dark chocolate, black pepper, malts, espresso, charred meat, cedar, and creaminess.

I was right. There is a plug behind the band. I whip out my PerfecDraw cigar poker tool and with only two whooshes, the cigar innards becomes the Holland Tunnel with just the right amount of resistance.

I always toast the foot before lighting up. I believe it spares the tobacco from going into traumatic shock from an extreme amount of heat being applied. Helps the taste immensely; especially at the start. I use a cheap angled lighter as opposed to my regular torch lighters.

The AVO 30 Years Maduro starts without a lot of flare but this could mean nothing…or a portent of things to come. I never know.

The char line makes a run for the border right after the birth of its sworn duty. It’s pretty bad. I smoked 2 sticks before this one and experienced the same burn issues. This is supposed to be the rejuvenation of a previous blend and supposedly at a customer friendly price. I’m not impressed with the skill of the rollers.

Strength is mild/medium.
So far, nothing to rave about. It could be any cigar on the planet at this point with its bland start and lack of significant flavors.

I now know why a limited edition of only 600 boxes released a couple months ago is still on the market…word of mouth.
I’ve had my 5 pack for 2+ months.

AVO is clearly Old School. Always been so and I’m sure will continue to be so. Still, potential should be wide eyed and alert at this 2 month period. I don’t taste potential. I taste a Quorum.

Flavors are very close to being non-existent except for barnyard, cream, black pepper, and malt.
Zero complexity. Zero transitions. Zero finish. Wonderful.

Alice Cooper is playing. We spent the 90’s in Phoenix. Cooper lives in the upper scale part of town in Paradise Valley but he got around a lot. Met him a few times at my blues band’s gigs. Funny guy.

This AVO is a complete dud. I’m only 1-1/2” in and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a waste of dough. If I had been smoking this for pleasure, I would have tossed it by now.

Smoke time is 20 minutes.

This is Gurkha territory. Zero flavors. I can’t believe Davidoff had the nerve to make a big deal about this return blend. It wasn’t special then and it surely ain’t special now; except for its mediocrity.

Cream is now playing. I loved that band. I was 16 or 17 when Disraeli Gears came out and my band started learning all of the songs immediately. We played them at a gig that weekend. McCartney taught me to be melodic. Jack Bruce taught me to woodshed. Improvisation is the greatest tool for any musician. My fellow musicians would play for hours without ever playing a single song. That ability to improvise got me the gig with Curved Air in 1974.

This is going to be a very short review. I don’t have the patience for a shit cigar. And neither do you.

There has been absolutely no change to this urinal cake since the start. I have not smoked a cigar bereft of this much character in ages. The 2 cigars I smoked early on were better than this turd…but not much.

How can you not sell out 600 boxes of 10 in two months? Because it’s a shit cigar!
I’m also not a fan of Dominican blends. They lack pizazz and structure. There are exceptions of course but as general rule, I avoid them like a ground up raccoon enema. (You end up shooting coarse hair out of your ass for a week).

There is a slight inflection of malt and creaminess. Yet the blend remains at mild/medium. Not my favorite zesty combination.

What a big fuck up for Davidoff. Doesn’t anyone at that company have a backbone that will stand up and say the truth? Or is it a dictatorship and everyone is a Yes man?

Halfway point at 35 minutes. Who cares.

My favorite cigar of the day is my first one in the morning. I get a good one and I have a smile on my puss all day long. I get a bad one and I beat the wife until she yells for me to clean the Vaseline off the couch.

I’d stop right now and chuck the damn thing. But then you will think even less of me. Like Davidoff will when they read this.
What a fucking rip off. OK. It’s only had two months of naked humi time. I don’t care if it needs 9 months, I should be tantalized by something in this blend.

Smoke time is an excruciating 45 minutes.
On the upside, not a single burn issue.

Buddy, Brad Billingsley, asked me why box pressed cigars see their ash as round? I have my own theory but I’d like to hear from you. It sounds ridiculous but he’s right. If you’re not afraid of commenting, I’d like to hear your opinion.

Flavors pick up at last. But led by the venerable barnyard element. Then followed by a lot of black pepper, some cream, malt, cedar, chocolate, and generic sweetness.
This is so prophetic. The secondary band has such excessive glue that I have to rip it apart to remove it.

I’m reveling that even at this low standard, there are at least a few flavors to consume. But they are lame and insignificant.
Watch. Someone will give this cigar a 90. Betcha’ a dollar.

I noticed something unusual while researching info on this cigar. Most reviewers bypassed this blend and went straight for the Improvisation that won’t be released til July. Now you know that a pre-release cigar did not get much humi time. This tells me that the reviewers all thought this AVO 30 Years Maduro is a piece of drek.
I’m done. What a waste of time.
Final smoke time: Forever

RATING: Ptooey

And now for something completely different:
A Primer on Producing Artists…Or..The Fool on the Hill.

I owned a recording studio in Long Beach, CA back in the early 80’s. It was all analog back then. We used a giant recording machine that was reel to reel and used 3” wide tape. We managed to buy the recorder from Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco. Heider used that very machine to record Jimi, Janis, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and a million other 60’s icons. We paid $800 for it in 1982. And it was already 20 years old.

The 3” wide tape was very expensive. A roll cost $180. I don’t remember how many feet were on each roll. And if we ran it at 30ips, the tape lasted only an hour. We, of course, made the clients pay for the tape, but we never gave it to them. We would just record over it. We also had a pricing scale that if you wanted the fast 30ips it was more expensive than if they wanted the slower 15 ips. Of course, the 30ips, being faster, recorded a more true to life sound. It was all bullshit because the magic occurred in the mixing and producing.

If a group insisted on buying the tape, we would sell it to them for $250. And then made a run to Hollywood to buy 3 or 4 more. We eventually got the tape cheaper as we became return customers.

Strangely, in a town (Long Beach) of more than 500,000 people, we were only one of two recording studios in the city. And the other studio was a dump. So we got a lot of business. Plus we advertised every week in those counter culture newspapers. We would always buy the entire back page.

I had an engineer while I produced the session. I was able to work the board perfectly but I needed to focus on what was being recorded and help the artists get their best performance possible. Having done sessions, played in Curved Air, and mentored by one of the greatest producers of all time: Rick Tunstall, I had the knack. So word went out there was a new hired gun in town and people asked for me to produce them. At an extra charge of course. Bands that didn’t have a pot to piss in, I did for free.

But some assholes would come in, swaggering and sashaying with a wad of money in their hands. We made sure to get all of it.

My great mentor, Rick Tunstall, taught me everything about producing. I would get taken aside by a singer or a guitarist and told that no one had been able to get a performance out of them like I did. This made me very happy. Not just for my ego, but it was gratifying to help another artist get what they heard in their head. It didn’t matter if I liked their music; I wanted a fine product coming from our studio. Word of mouth was a big deal for us.

Over the years, I produced thousands of groups…all kinds…you name it…from punk bands to an orchestral harp player to string quartets and everything in between.

We also got a lot of radio commercial work and I never got involved because it was usually a radio DJ with a project and they deemed themselves the producer. And they never wanted my help; although, after hearing their finished project, I believe they would have been smarter taking my help.

And then there were the pop or rock acts that thought they were smarter than me and insisted on producing. Every single time, it was a disaster. My engineer, Dave, kept his mouth shut and let them dig their own grave. It would usually end up with more money for us because they would end up re-doing the session. After they finished their debacle, I would play them things I produced and they, begrudgingly, agreed to allow me to produce their project. And everyone was happy at the end. Back then, we only charged $35 an hour.

Often, I would have to use the Phil Spector method. Something Tunstall taught me. This means getting rough with one or more musicians who weren’t on top of their game.

Recording is nothing like playing live; where playing a clam now and again didn’t matter. In a recording session, one had to discipline themselves so they could play the exact same thing over and over again. Some of the best players around choked in the studio. They couldn’t handle the pressure. It is very intimidating being the only person in the studio, doing an over dub, while a gaggle of people looked on from the booth.

More often than not, I had to bring in player buddies who knew how to record. This really caused a lot if ill feeling in the band. But they wanted a great finished product so they conceded. Not to mention, they had to pay an outsider.

There were times that frustration came into play. I would leave the booth and enter the recording studio area. This always intimidated the players. I would take one aside and yell at him with a big pep talk. I got them mad. Mad is good. It fires up the adrenaline and with enough pep talks; the players came through playing what they were supposed to, plus some. I tried easy cajoling at first, but sometimes getting rough was the only way. And it was their money and I wanted them to get the most out of it.

After the session, the band would be packing up and Dave and I would focus on one song. We would hurriedly mix it so we would have something to show the players when they finished packing and entered the booth. They always wanted to produce their own songs.

But by doing one song for them, it kept the number of self-proclaimed producers down. Most of the time, they were very impressed with what Dave and I did for them and allowed us to mix their tunes by ourselves. More $$$ for us. We would shuffle them out of the studio and then mix their songs. Then invite them back the next day to hear the finished product. We saw a lot of big smiles.

There were no DVD’s back then so the finished product was delivered on a two track reel. Basically, it was a stereo recording of their music.

We were ruthless about money. We bullied the bands so they would have to transfer the reel to cassettes or have them pressed into vinyl. We could copy the reel to cassettes with a myriad of copy machines in the studio. Lots of customers came to us merely to make a thousand cassette copies.

During the recording studio period, my ear was the best it ever was in all of my playing days. The amount of focus required, hearing every detail and nuance of a song takes a lot of concentration.

As a result, I got hired out to do bands’ sound for live shows. We would use their equipment and all I had to do was show up. I sat behind the board and did a sound check with them getting all their sounds.

I had a real knack for getting a big drum sound. I steered the drums into a John Bonham sound. BIG! The bands really liked that. And of course, as a bassist myself, I made sure the bass was way out front.

I miss those days. But life moves on and technology changed drastically only a few years later. No one records using analog any longer. Everything is done using computers. I’ve even emailed my bass parts to friends living across the country. I believe a lot is lost by not having that personal touch of working with other musicians.

So while the bedroom guitarist could produce something equally as good as my studio could, the only thing lacking was the Phil Spector syndrome telling them they can do better.

I found out during this time that McCartney did the same thing I did when laying down a bass line. A band would come in needing a bass player and I got a lot of session gigs this way.

But I was too busy producing to play at the same time. So I’d come in around 11pm and stay all night in a dim booth with my bass and the equipment. I could play the shit out of a song because I could fix it and do it again until it was perfect. During the latter days of Beatles recordings, McCartney did the same exact thing. This allowed him to come up with some of the most beautiful melodic bass lines every written.

And of course, I loved the solitude. I’d have a small amount of toot there. A doob that I would take small hits from during the night. And no fear. I was alone. I could fuck up a hundred times and only need to play it right once.

But I experimented with my bass lines. I tried to think like McCartney. Providing bass riffs that the band would never have thought of.

Those were fun days. Working 7 days a week sometimes 12-15 hours per day. You need to be young to do this. Now as a senior, I need naps.

With all the technology today, every serious musician has his own home studio. A lucky few have a vision that they can put into play. For others, it’s fun but goes nowhere.


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6 replies

  1. Ouch!!! I’m not an AVO fan at all – and will certainly stay clear of this one. Every time I go to my local Davidoff lounge I look at the AVO section and just shake my head. The shopkeepers don’t seem to be fans either. I don’t get it. As usual, thanks for the honesty!

  2. Dear Katman.

    Please accept my condolences on the death of your sister.

    I discovered and have been reading your site for several months now. I’ve found it to be most informative about cigars, and lately I’ve pretty much exclusively been trying out your recommended sticks. Though I haven’t really succeeded yet I’m trying hard to suss out the flavors and aromas you mention in your reviews. I’m going through the steps you outline on smelling and tasting the cigars, and making a conscious effort to detect the notes. Like I said, not not truly successful yet but I’ll keep working. Anyway yours is the best cigar review site I’ve found.

    Finally I love your stories. They make visiting the site worth it on their own. The one posted today about your studio finally compelled me to write. Whenever you mention the studio I picture you as Robert Downey Sr. in Boogie Nights – “that’s a YP, not an MP” – as Dirk tries to get his tapes on credit. I know you never fell for that shit.

    Anyway thank you again for your advice and story-telling, and I hope you and your wife are well.

    Your servant,

    Bowie, MD

  3. Hi Doctor, Doctor Michael,
    Thanks for the kind words about my sis.
    But you know I’m starting to get a complex here…I get a lot of emails who tell me the best part of my site are the stories. Thankfully, I’m old and decrepit so I immediately forget that part of the compliment…lol.
    Don’t worry about getting all the crazy flavors and aromas I get. I’ve been smoking for over 50 years. And it wasn’t til I began reviewing 10 years ago that I was able to dissect a cigar.
    It helps to read descriptive reviewers. But if you read one whose main thrust is earth, wind, and leather….RUN!
    My face hurts after a review. I scrunch it up big time trying to discern flavors. I’ve had neighbors peek through my window while I was reviewing and they called 9-1-1. So it’s a process that for some come quickly…and for the rest of us; takes time and patience…no, not patients.
    My wife wants to know what kind of doc you are. She has a photo of a large protrusion on her nose she would like you to see. And then there is that massive grapefruit sized melanoma I have on my right testicle. I am pretty sure I can take care of both situations as I am a cigar reviewer and a bassist.
    Be well,

    “Doctor, doctor, please
    Oh, the mess I’m in
    Doctor, doctor, please
    Oh, the mess I’m in
    She walked up to me
    And really stole my heart
    And then she started
    To take my body apart
    Livin’, lovin’, I’m on the run
    far away from you
    Livin’, lovin’, I’m on the run
    So far away from you
    Doctor, doctor, please
    Oh, I’m going fast
    Doctor doctor, please
    Oh, I’m going fast
    It’s only just a moment
    She’s turnin’ paranoid
    That’s not a situation
    For a nervous boy
    Doctor, doctor, please
    Oh, the mess I’m in
    Doctor, doctor, please
    Oh, the mess I’m in
    But you look so angry
    As I crawled across your floor
    She’s got the strain
    And I can’t take it anymore
    But you look so angry
    As I crawled across your floor
    She’s got the strain
    And I can’t take any more
    Livin’, lovin’, I’m on the run
    So Far away from you
    Livin’, lovin’, I’m on the run
    So far away from you
    Doctor, doctor, please
    Oh, the mess I’m in
    Doctor, doctor, please
    Oh, I’m going fast
    Doctor, doctor, please
    Oh, the mess I’m in
    Doctor, doctor, please
    Oh, I’m going fast.”

  4. UFO version of “Doctor, Doctor” classic as is most of their 1974 Phenomenon LP! Along with Willie Dixon ala UFO “Built for Comfort”. Flashback!

  5. PHENOMENON!! Great album.

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