By now, I’d have to think that a good majority of the cigar smoking population of the U.S. and possibly the world has at least heard the term regional edition, and hopefully a good many of those folks know what it means in practical terms. To put it simply, cigar makers have released cigars that are only destined for a certain geographic part of the world.
In the case of Habanos, S.A., the Cuban cigar conglomerate, Edición Regional cigars have been part of the company’s offerings since 2005, and can range from individual countries to large areas of the world such as the Asia Pacific region. In the case of cigar makers not based in Cuba, regional editions are a bit less common, but have definitely become part of the offerings, and again sometimes for individual states, and sometimes regions or even halves of the United States.
Such is the case with a pair of cigars that came out in the summer of 2019 from AVO, which is part of the Davidoff of Geneva USA portfolio. The brand added two new cigars, one of which would be heading to retailers in the eastern half of the country, while the other would be heading to retailers in the western half. It was the first time that the AVO brand had released a regional edition, and it wouldn’t be the last.
As for the cigars, this cigar, the East Edition, is a 6 x 55 perfecto that uses an Ecuadorian wrapper, Dominican binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The West Edition is a 5 1/2 x 52 belicoso and also uses an Ecuadorian wrapper and Dominican binder, though the fillers come from the Dominican Republic and Honduras, with the company saying that the West is a stronger blend than the East. Additionally, the East Edition wears an orange secondary band, while the West Edition’s is a light blue. Both releases came with an MSRP of $11 per cigar and limited to 2,500 boxes of 10 cigars.
Here’s what I said about the AVO Regional East Edition when I reviewed it in September 2019:
After smoking the first AVO Regional East Edition, I was not just a bit disappointed by the blend, but even a bit concerned. The smoke was underwhelming, the flavor seemed a bit flat, and there wasn’t much that had me excited about the remaining two samples. Thankfully those other two samples did more to make me a believer in the AVO Regional East Edition. It’s a flavorful cigar with some familiar notes of cedar and pepper, as well as a unique base layer that comes across as a well-stewed combination of some of the signature earthiness of the regions where the tobacco is grown. I’d love to tighten up the ash a bit, but otherwise the construction is more than acceptable. I’m interested to see how the West Edition compares, but the East Edition is certainly no slouch.
- Cigar Reviewed: AVO Regional East Edition
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: O.K. Cigars
- Wrapper: Ecuador
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 55
- Vitola: Perfecto
- MSRP: $11 (Box of 10, $110)
- Release Date: July 2019
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 1
Given that the AVO Regional East Edition doesn’t wear a cellophane sleeve, I’m not surprised to see what looks like some very small damage to the wrapper leaf, namely near the foot and with the cap. The cap is particularly eye-catching as not only does there appear to be two separate attempts to place a piece of tobacco on the head of the cigar, but the cuts are clearly not round. If anything, they look like they may have been made with a star-shaped cookie cutter, though it’s not quite that precise. There is also a small chunk of the wrapper missing on the back of the cigar, I can’t quite tell if that’s how the leaf went on or if it was damaged along the way. Beyond that, the wrapper leaf has some fairly prominent veins, a slight amount of oiliness, and a color that is just darker than well-tanned and into a light brown hue. It’s a fairly firmly rolled cigar, showing just the slightest bit of give. The wrapper has a bit of peanut to it, while the foot’s aroma is more developed, adding cashews, breads, a bit of middle-of-the-spectrum earthiness. Air moves easily on the cold draw, certainly easier than I would have expected with the tapered ends. It’s a subtle flavor that leans more towards dry woods and peanuts, with no appreciable pepper or sweetness.
The AVO Regional East Edition gets off to what I would call a familiar start for the brand, leading with some Dominican terroir, a bit of a tangy flavor and black pepper that takes a moment to appear on the tongue and in the nose. Smoke production feels a bit thin in the first inch but fills out a bit as the burn line progresses, as does the flavor. That said, almost all the components feel like they’re operating with some restraint, and while I want to call out the wood component, what really seems to be getting me is the terroir aspect and the combination of everything as the flavors appear to have come together quite well. The Ecuadorian wrapper seems to be contributing a bit here as well, and for a few puffs there are times I’m getting the same kind of finish as I expect from a Connecticut shade grown wrapper, a tangy, almost sourdough bread flavor. I begin to get a bit of an orange citrus note as the second third gets underway, a subtle glaze that reminds me a bit of an Old Fashioned, though minus the alcohol, of course. While I can’t say I have vivid memories of this cigar from when I first smoked it, it seems to have mellowed and coalesced with those two years of rest. Flavor is generally medium-minus in the first half, body is on the thin side of medium, and strength is almost not worth mentioning as the cigar is quite mellow. Construction has been very good so far.
After knocking off a clump of ash at the midpoint, smoke production suddenly increases, almost as if attempting to make up for lacking a bit earlier. There is also a fairly quick uptick in the intensity of the flavor, a charge led by black pepper that imparts a decent sting when it gets it my eye. The overall makeup of the profile is much the same as the first half, meaning pepper, a mix of Dominican and Ecuadorian terroir, a bit of orange sweetness, and a building flavor of lumber around the edges of my tongue. As the burn line progresses, I find the flavor offering less of the terroir and more of a familiar yet generic earthiness, still nowhere near as heavy as Nicaraguan tobacco but giving the profile some impressive body and weight on the palate. Retrohales stay fairly peppery, not overpowering but more than enough to provide plenty of stimulation. The final third also brings on a bit of a campfire smokiness to the aroma, while the smoke gets more textured on the tongue, a change from what had been a fairly smooth smoke in the first third. Just as I was about to put the cigar down, it shifts gears one more time, bringing in a thick, condensed milk sweetness and reminding me of a smoke-infused dessert. It’s not overly sweet, but it is quite rich, arguably the richest profile that the blend has offered thus far. Pushing to get one more puff out of the cigar bring about a decidedly burnt flavor, confirming that it’s time to put the cigar down. The AVO Regional East Edition comes to a close after an hour and 40 minutes of smoking time, finishing medium-full in flavor and body, with strength seeming to finish a bit shy of the medium mark.
As I noted earlier, I can’t say I have a very vivid memory of the AVO Regional East Edition from when I smoked it two years ago, something that generally means it was a good or even very good cigar but one that falls short of great. Two years later, it has certainly made an impression, as while the first half is on the milder side of the spectrum and had me wondering if the two years of rest might have been too much, the second half proves otherwise. The flavors are thicker, more intertwined, and notably richer than I would think of for this cigar or really any AVO. Not every cigar ages well, and figuring out where a cigar is on its age curve can be a bit of a gamble without multiple samples, but after smoking the AVO Regional East Edition, I’m glad I smoked it when I did.
Original Score (September 2021)