Last month, Davidoff released the latest installment of its Chinese Zodiac series, the Davidoff Year of the Dog Limited Edition 2018. The ultra-premium series is one that is highly anticipated each year by Davidoff cigar enthusiasts. While the start of the Chinese New Year falls in between January 21st and February 20th, Davidoff typically puts out the Zodiac release around Thanksgiving in the prior calendar year. Each installment features a different blend, in a different size, with exquisite packaging reflecting the Zodiac theme. For the Year of the Dog, this installment is in the form of a Gran Churchill, and today we take a closer look at the year.
The series actually launched in 2012 with a small “Year of the Dragon” release for the Asian market. In 2013, the series became a more global offering with the release of the Year of the Snake.
2012: Davidoff Year of the Dragon (Limited, small release for Asian market)
2013: Davidoff Year of the Snake
2014: Davidoff Year of the Horse
2015: Davidoff Year of the Sheep
2016: Davidoff Year of the Monkey
2017: Davidoff Year of the Rooster
2018: Davidoff Year of the Dog
With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations in the American market on premium cigars, some have questioned whether this series will continue. Davidoff has not indicated one way or another, but given Davidoff is a global brand and that the series started in Asia, my guess would be we will see more of these cigars. If the series continues for the rest of the Chinese Zodiac, the following list could be future releases.
2019 Year of the Pig
2020 Year of the Rat
2021 Year of the Ox
2022 Year of the Tiger
2023 Year of the Rabbit
As for the series itself, most of the Chinese Zodiac Series has been among the higher-rated Davidoff cigars in the history of the Cigar Coop brand. In 2013, the Year of the Snake and Year of the Horse finished as the #2 and #17 cigars for the year, respectively. In 2014, the Year of the Sheep ranked as the #13 Cigar of the Year.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Davidoff Year of the Dog Limited Edition 2018 and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Davidoff Year of the Dog features tobaccos from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua. The cigar is highlighted by a Habano Ecuador wrapper.
Wrapper: Habano Ecuador Claro
Binder: Dominican San Vincente Seco
Filler: Dominican Piloto (Seco, Viso), San Vicente (Ligero), Nicaraguan Estelí (Seco)
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic (TABADOM)
The Davidoff Year of the Dog is available in one size – a 7 x 50 Gran Churchill. 2013’s Davidoff Year of the Snake also used a Churchill form, but that cigar measured 7 x 48. The Davidoff Year of the Dog is packaged in 10-count boxes. A total of 9,000 boxes have been allocated globally.
The best way to describe the Habano Ecuador wrapper is that it is a cross between a caramel and rosado. The wrapper itself has more of a silky sheen than an oily sheen. Upon closer examination, some mottling can be seen on the surface. There were some visible veins, but most of the wrapper seams were well hidden.
There are two bands on the Davidoff Year of the Dog. The first band uses the design of the Davidoff White label band. It features the name “Davidoff” in classic cursive gold font on an oval field of white. There are small gold circles going around the perimeter of the oval. The word “GENEVE” (in gold font) flanks to the right of the oval field. To the left of the oval is the text “LIMITED EDITION”.
The second band is primarily red in color with gold accents. In the center of the band is a profile sketch of a dog surrounded by a gold diamond. To the left of the image is the text “YEAR OF” and to the right is the text “THE DOG” – both in gold font.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting the Davidoff Year of the Dog, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was clipped, I commenced with the pre-light draw. The cold draw delivered a mix of berry sweetness, natural tobacco, a slight floral and tingly note. Overall, I considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, I was ready to light up the Davidoff Year of the Dog and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The start to the Davidoff Year of the Dog delivered some pronounced, yet smooth, natural tobacco notes, nut, light berry, and cedar. The natural tobacco and and notes went primary early on. The berry and cedar notes receded into the background. Meanwhile the retro-hale delivered a mix of cedar and mixed pepper.
Later in the first third, some bready notes mixed in with the natural tobacco. By the second third of the Davidoff Year of the Dog, the nut moved into the background leaving the bread and natural tobacco notes primary. At the same time, there was a slight increase in both the pepper and cedar notes.
By the last third, the cedar notes joined the natural tobacco in the forefront. The bread notes receded, joining the pepper, nut, and berry notes in the background. The pepper seemed to have an edge with these background notes, but it never got overpowering. This is the way the Davidoff Year of the Dog came to a close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
From a burn standpoint, the Davidoff Year of the Dog maintained a straight burn path. The burn line had a slight amount of curvature from time to time, but overall I didn’t find it needed much maintenance. The resulting ash had a salt and pepper complexion. This was an ash that wasn’t overly firm, but it wasn’t loose or flaky. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the Davidoff Year of the Dog performed quite well. This was a draw I would describe as open, not loose. Overall the Year of the Dog was low maintenance to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
Taking the 2012 Year of the Dragon out of the equation (which I have not smoked), the Davidoff Year of the Dog was probably the most dialed back of the Zodiac series. This is a cigar that starts out in the mild to medium range for both strength and body. There is an increase in the intensity in both attributes. By the final third, both the strength and body moved into the lower end of medium.
In terms of strength versus body, both the strength and body balanced each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
After the releases of 2013’s Year of the Snake, 2014’s Year of the Horse, and 2015’s Year of the Sheep – I felt the Chinese Zodiac series by Davidoff was off to becoming one of the great annual limited edition lines of all time. When 2016’s Year of the Monkey and 2017’s Year of the Rooster came out, I felt the series lost a bit of its luster. With the 2018 Year of the Dog, I found a cigar that returned to the high performance levels seen from the Snake, Horse, and Sheep releases. This is an excellent cigar. While it’s dialed back, it’s not short on flavor. It’s an enjoyable cigar to smoke any time of the day by any type of cigar enthusiast. At $39.00, it’s more of a special occasion cigar. It’s one that I would smoke again – and if you can muster up the near $390.00 to purchase a box, it’s certainly worth considering.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Cedar, Nut, Berry, Mixed Pepper
Complexity: Medium Plus
Strength: Mild to Medium (1st 2/3), Medium (Final Third)
Body: Mild to Medium (1st 2/3), Medium (Final Third)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Box Worthy Consideration
News: Davidoff Year of the Dog Details Announced
Brand Reference: Davidoff
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop. Special Thanks to Benji Holliday for providing the box used in this photography.