Earlier this year Davidoff unveiled what would become its signature release for 2017, the Davidoff Winston Churchill – The Late Hour. Back in 2007, Davidoff had launched a brand that paid tribute to Sir Winston Churchill called Winston Churchill cigars. The brand had been somewhat of a slow mover for the company, so in 2015 the Winston Churchill brand was overhauled from both a blend and packaging standpoint. The new cigar was re-branded as Davidoff Winston Churchill and would essentially become a sub-brand under the main Davidoff line. The Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour becomes the second offering under the Davidoff Winston Churchill sub-brand. What is unique about this blend is that it incorporates a leaf in the filler from the Condega region that was aged in Scotch whisky barrels. Today we take a closer look at the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour in the Robusto size. Over the past few years, Davidoff has excelled in delivering innovation in its cigars to the market. The Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Robusto follows in this path.
The idea of aging a single tobacco in a barrel used for spirits and then incorporating that tobacco blend is not new for Davidoff. It had been done several times under the Camacho brand, but the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour marks the first time Davidoff has employed this process with a barrel used for Scotch whisky. The concept with these barrel-aged blends is that the tobacco aged in the barrel absorbs the aromas of the cask and whisky.
The barrels are made of American white oak that formerly held single malt Scotch whisky from the Speyside region. The Condega leaves are pressed inside the barrel. As the temperature in the closed casks rises, the tobacco enters a fermentation process. After three months, the tobacco is rotated and aged an additional three months. The tobacco absorbs the aromas of the cask and whisky for a total of six months.
The three Camacho releases using the barrel aging process include:
- Camacho American Barrel Aged: Featuring a Corojo filler leaf aged in bourbon barrels
- Camacho Nicaraguan Barrel Aged: Featuring a Corojo filler leaf aged in Flor de Cana rum barrels.
- Camacho Imperial Stout Barrel-Aged: A small batch limited release done in conjunction with Cigar Dojo and Smoke Inn that features a Corojo leaf aged in Ten FIDY by Oskar Blues beer barrels.
As for the name “The Late Hour”, it came from the fact that Winston Churchill himself got his best inspirations during the late hours:
“The late hours into the early morning was the time when Churchill would gather all those resources together and commit himself to working, whether it was on his books with his research advisors or with his military people deciding the course of action. So, the late hours and the dark hours were when Churchill was his most productive in life. And he was never without a cigar.” — Randolph Churchill, great-grandson of Sir Winston Churchill.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Robusto and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Condega leaf aged in the Scotch barrel is used in the filler of the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour along with tobacco from Estelí and the Dominican Republic. The blend is finished with a Mexican binder and a dark Ecuadorian Habano Marron Oscuro.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Marron Oscuro
Binder: Mexican San Andres Negro
Filler: Dominican (Olor Viso, Piloto Seco and San Vicente Mejorado Viso), Nicaraguan (Condega Viso aged in Scotch whisky barrels, Estelí and Viso)
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
The Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour is available in three sizes – each packaged in 20-count boxes.
Robusto: 5 x 52
Toro: 6 x 54
Churchill: 7 x 48
The Ecuadorian Habano Marron Oscuro wrapper of the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Robusto had a dark brown color with a strong Colorado red tint to it. There was some oil on the surface of the wrapper. The surface of the wrapper was slightly bumpy. There were some visible veins, but the darker complexion of the wrapper did a good job at hiding many of the wrapper seams.
There are two bands on the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour. The primary band is basically a black colored version of the Davidoff Winston Churchill band with a mostly gold font. Prominently displayed on the center of the band is a silhouette profile of Winston Churchill. Below the silhouette is the Davidoff script logo. A dotted oval surrounds the silhouette and Davidoff logo. On the left side of the band is the text “WINSTON CHURCHILL” (in white font). On the right side is the text “GENEVE” (in gold font). The band also has gold trim around it.
The secondary band is also black with gold font. On the center of the band is the text “THE LATE HOUR”. There is a pinstripe that protrudes from the text on both the left and right side.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
I commenced the cigar experience of the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Robusto by clipping the cap with a straight cut. I then moved on to the pre-light draw stage. The dry draw delivered a mix of wood, leather, cocoa, and a slight tingly spice note. Overall I considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw experience. At this point I was ready to light up the Late Hour Robusto and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The start to the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Robusto produced a mix of charred wood, earth, grass and white pepper. That aroma was noticeable on the retro-hale. While I picked up some white pepper on the retro-hale, the Scotch whisky liquor was also present. This liquor note could also be detected from the cigar’s aroma.
As the Late Hour Robusto moved through the first third, the charred wood and earth notes became primary.These notes alternated in intensity throughout the first half. There was also a creamy texture to these notes, creating a smoother flavor profile. Meanwhile, the grass and white pepper notes became secondary and soon I detected a very subtle whisky note on the tongue in the distant background.
During the early ages of the second third, the grassy notes increased in intensity. Meanwhile, the charred wood notes diminished and the cigar lost some of its creaminess. By the final third of the Late Hour Robusto, the grass and earth notes were primary. However charred wood, white pepper, and the subtle liquor note in the background still delivered the right combination of sweetness and spice to keep things interesting. This is the way the Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Robusto came to a close. The resulting nub was cool in temperature, but slightly soft to the touch.
Burn and Draw
Overall the Late Hour Robusto scored nicely when it came to burn and draw. While there was a slight amount of jaggedness on the burn line, the Late Hour Robusto maintained a straight burn path and didn’t require frequent touch-ups to do so. The resulting ash had a salt and pepper color complexion. This was an ash that wasn’t overly firm, but it wasn’t loose nor flaky. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the Late Hour Robusto was more on the open side. I would have preferred a touch more resistance, but this was still a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from. I also found this cigar to produce an abundant layer of smoke.
Strength and Body
From a strength perspective, the Late Hour Robusto started out medium. As the cigar experience progressed there was a slight increase in strength, but the intensity level didn’t quite reach the medium to full range of the spectrum. As for the body, the Late Hour Robusto also started out medium. The body gradually increased in intensity and by the final third, it had crossed the threshold into medium to full territory.
In terms of strength versus body, I found the body had a slight edge throughout the smoking experience.
The one thing Camacho (and now Davidoff) has been very successful at when it comes to incorporating barrel-aged tobacco into a cigar is that they have been able to maintain a nice amount of complexity in the blend. The Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Robusto follows in this path. With all of these Camacho/Davidoff barrel-aged offerings, one should not think infused or flavored but rather cigars where an external influence contributes to the flavor profile.
This is a cigar I would recommend to a novice or experienced cigar enthusiast. I would also recommend this cigar whether one is a Scotch whisky drinker or not. As for myself, this is a cigar I’d smoke again – and it’s worthy of picking up multiple cigars as a part of a box split.
Key Flavors: Charred Wood, Earth, Grass, White Pepper, Liquor
Draw: Very Good
Body: Medium (1st 2/3), Medium to Full (Last Third)
Finish: Very Good
Assessment: 3.5-Box Split
News: Davidoff Winston Churchill “The Late Hour” Unveiled
Brand Reference: Winston Churchill Cigars
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted.