AVO 30 Years LE05

Like many cigar lovers, I was initially familiar with only the cigars, not the man behind the brand. I would later learn that Avedis “Avo” Uvezian led a long, full and amazing life. A gifted pianist and jazz musician from a musical family, the Armenian-born Uvezian entertained royalty, traveled the world, spoke multiple languages and by all accounts was adored by all who met him. He served 2 years in the US army, studied music at Juilliard and dabbled in the jewelry business in Puerto Rico. Sadly, he lost a son, Ronny, along the way and left his family behind when he passed away in 2017, 2 days before his 92nd birthday.

Playing a regular gig in a Florida resort, Avo would regularly purchase a few cigars from a local shop then lay them on his piano for anyone in the audience to enjoy. The cigar lifestyle would drive him to search for a cigar maker, taking him from Puerto Rico, to the Dominican Republic and finally to New York. His inaugural label was the Puerto Rican, Bolero. But his search continued until he ran into Henke Kelner and since 1987, when Davidoff created the AVO brand exclusively for its NYC shop and became the sole distributor, the Davidoff connection remains to this day.

Avo liked cigars inspired by various aspects of his life, e.g. the Improvisation Series. Beginning in 2001, he decided that each year he would dedicate a limited-edition cigar to commemorate his birthday. The cigars lacked any real dress except for the stamp on a plain box, “LExx”, where the ‘xx’ denotes the last two digits of the year. The LE05 became a closet favorite of aficionados over the years, as did others, prompting the brand to resurrect certain blends for limited re-release, usually in sampler packs. In 2018, after a flood of requests, LE05 (redux) was revitalized and also timed to coincide with Avo Cigars 30th anniversary.

“People always ask me, ‘Avo, what’s your secret?’ And I tell them that every time you smoke cigars, you have given yourself another day of life.”

– Avo Uvezian, at his 90th birthday celebration

The reblending of the new LE05 fell to none other than the master himself, Henke Kelner, who along with Eladio Díaz followed the original blend down to the leaf. The LE05 was limited to 1,500 boxes of 20 (30,000 cigars to honor the 30th anniversary). While I never smoked the original, I’d heard stories here and there. I’ll be honest, I thought our gran robusto was pretty unremarkable aside from a crisp cap and seamless roll. In fact, I found the body to be a bit spongier than most and there was excess glue oozing from behind one of the bands (more on that later).

Where it begins to demand my attention is in the sweet aromas of honey and milk chocolate wafting from the wrapper. The foot too was rich and rife with sumptuous notes of mint and chocolate. The cold draw was near perfect, providing an earthy layer on the palate. Once lit, it was clear I would have to pay strict attention as the waves of complexity were dense. Atop a nutty core and toasty draw was a symphony of nougat and honey intonations, finishing with a hardy flavor of oak and toasted almonds. There’s a tang of mesquite on the palate as rich notes of cocoa and caramel mature on the retro. Smooth and melodic, the light spice begins to increase as black pepper notes become more prominent and LE05 settles into a woody resonance.

Transitions offer toasty and earthy foundations, with the middle transition maintaining deep complexity offering savory notes of bread crust, chocolate and hints of salt in front of a robust finish of roasted peanuts and coffee beans. The body thickens and becomes bolder with little going on in the last leg, yet the smooth texture takes the bite out of some bitterness and softens the full-bodied, spicy mélange of earth, chocolate and black pepper. This cigar is very well rolled as evidenced by its near perfect combustion, a stout 1”+ dirty gray ash and voluminous smoke production.

The bands, on the other hand, were not my friend. As the cigar burned down, I tried in vain to remove the secondary “30 Years” band. Remember my comment about the excess glue? Well, I think they used Gorilla glue to cement this baby. As I began to pick, tear, twist, bend and contort my body in a laughable attempt to remove the band, yanking my burning fingers away, at first in pain then in anger, my cursing grew louder as I felt like a one-armed man in an ass-kicking contest. Yes, I was channeling Clark Griswold at the precipice of a failed Wallyworld adventure. I know, sad and pathetic but ultimately, pretty damn funny.

My band adventure aside, I thought this was a wonderfully flavorful smoke. A surprisingly quick burning cigar, the almost 5.5” LE05 liked the puffing and I wrapped things up just a handful of minutes under an hour. The delicious, well-balanced harmonies of the LE05 lie in its layers of complexity that can easily be missed as there is so much going on, so don’t rush it. I don’t know about living until the age of 91, but I’d wholeheartedly agree with Avo that “…every time you smoke cigars, you have given yourself another day of life.”- In Fumo Pax!

Recommendation: Boxworthy

Did you Know: In 1966, Avo reportedly penned the music for the iconic “Strangers in The Night” giving Frank Sinatra his first #1 hit in over a decade yet credit goes largely to others.

  • Profile: Medium-Full
  • Vitola: Gran Robusto
  • Length / Ring: 5.4″ x 50
  • Purchased: B&M
  • Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Dominican
  • Filler: Dominican
  • Production: Oettinger Kelner Cigars
  • Blade: Xikar xi1
  • Fire: Colibri Firebird
  • Price:$14.25 [Box $285]
  • Humidor Age: 9.5 mo.
  • Box: 20
  • Other Vitolas: N/A

N O T E S

Smoke Time: 0:51
Draw
: Effortless
Construction: Seamless; nice cap; minimal veins; glue residue on band/wrapper; spongy foot, but otherwise evenly firm; caramel appearance; no oil; holds 1″ ash.
Aromas:

  • WrapperHoney, milk chocolate
  • Foot – Minty, chocolate
  • Cold Draw – Earthy

Tasting Notes:

  • Initial: Toasty draw and nutty; rich intonations pf nougat and honey; mesquite on palate; oaky finish with hints of toasted almonds; hints of cocoa and caramel notes on retro; spicy element that increases in potency; some hints of black pepper; medium bodied, smooth and robust; settles into woody, peppery core.
  • Transition: Toasty foundation; more chocolate centered offering notes of bread crust and salt; black pepper notes and spice persist; long finish of of roasted peanuts and coffee bean; more savory and more body; grassy notes in nose; elevated spice on palate.
  • Transition: Earthy, chocolate core with little going on; lots of black pepper; some bitterness in the spicy, woody finish; maintains smooth texture.

Complexity: Excellent
Balance: Excellent
Touch upsN/A
Combustion: Near flawless
Weaknesses: Ridiculous amount of adhesive on band; wrapper brittle
Recommendation: Boxworthy

Recommendation scale:

  1. Go-to
  2. Boxworthy
  3. 5 packer
  4. Yard ‘gar
  5. NR [No Recommendation]

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