In 2017, Davidoff Cigars released two limited extensions to its Davidoff Discovery Pillar (Black) Label series. The first was a series of 6 x 60 line extensions, and the second was a culebra offering featuring three of the Discovery Pillar blends. These blends included Davidoff Nicaragua, Davidoff Escurio, and Davidoff Yamasá blends. A culebra is a group of three panatelas twisted together to form a snake-like entity. The origins of the culebra can be traced back to Cuba, but there are many conflicting stories about the creation of the culebra unit. While some culebra entities consist of three twisted cigars of the same blend, when it comes to the Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition, each unit contains a twisted panatela from each of the three blends from the Davidoff Discovery Pillar (Black) Label. Today, we take a look at one of the panatela components of the Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition which will be referred to in this assessment as the Davidoff Yamasá Culebra.
One can infer the release of the Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition is the by-product of a corporate strategy implemented by former Davidoff CEO Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard. During his time at Davidoff, Hoejsgaard’s strategy focused on product innovation. The most famous product that resulted from this strategy was the introduction of the Davidoff Nicaragua in 2013. This was a project where Davidoff Master Blender Henke Kelner was challenged to blend an all-Nicaraguan tobacco – something he had not done up until that time. This cigar would become a huge success for the company – and ultimately became a springboard for the Escurio, Nicaragua Box Pressed, and Yamasá lines.
While Davidoff Yamasá is a mostly Dominican-centric blend, it is not short on innovation. It is highlighted by a wrapper and binder that Davidoff grows in the Yamasá region of the Dominican Republic. This is a region that has been described by Davidoff as a “harsh and unforgiving swampland” where others have failed to grow tobacco. Kelner put in a two-decade effort to succeed in growing tobacco in this region where others had failed. Ever-focused on the science of the land around him, Kelner led an effort that included raising the pH levels of the soil and utilizing crop rotation and transplanting – thus making the region capable of producing excellent tobacco. While Davidoff has used tobacco from this region for several years, in 2016 the company built a line around it that would be known as Davidoff Yamasá.
This is not Davidoff’s first culebra release. The company had a previous offering with the Davidoff Special C. In that culebra offering, the three panatelas were identical blends. For the Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition, each of the panatelas is a different blend.
Without further ado, let’s explore the Davidoff Yamasá component of the Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition and see what this cigar brings to the table.
The Davidoff Yamasá Culebra shares the same blend components as the rest of the Davidoff Nicaragua line.
Wrapper: Yamasá (Dominican Republic)
Binder: San Vincente from Yamasá (Dominican Republic)
Filler: Nicaragua (Condega, Estelí), Dominican (Piloto, Mejorado)
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic (TABADOM)
The Davidoff Yamasá has been produced in six sizes:
The Yamasá Culebra is sold as a part of the Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition, which also contains the Escurio and Nicaragua panatelas. Each Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition is packaged in an individual coffin containing the three twisted panatelas – one from each of the Discovery Pillar blends. The coffins are then available in 8-count boxes. In a nutshell, each coffin has one Davidoff Nicaragua Culebra panatela and each box has eight of them.
The three panatelas of the culebra are twisted together in a classic Cuban style. There is a black ribbon tying the three panatelas together on each side of the culebra. Like any culebra, the individual panatela components aren’t the most attractive, but when all three are tied together, it’s a work of art.
One thing that is unique is that each of the panatelas has a footer band to easily identify the blend of the panatela. These bands are similar to the secondary bands found on the Davidoff Escurio, Davidoff Yamasá, and Davidoff Nicaragua lines. In the case of the Davidoff Yamasá, it has a red color with black trim. On the band, it says “YAMASÁ” in white font. To the left and right is a black colored Davidoff Yamasá star logo.
The wrapper of the Davidoff Yamasá Culebra has a chocolate brown color. There was some oil on the surface. This was a classic culebra component that was basically a scrunched panatela vitola. As a result, the Davidoff Yamasá Culebra had a bumpy surface. There were some visible veins and visible wrapper seams
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting up the Davidoff Yamasá Culebra, I used a straight cut to remove the cap. Once the cap was removed, I proceeded with the pre-light draw. The dry draw delivered a mix of chocolate and cedar notes. While it was a simple profile, I still found this to be an excellent pre-light draw. At this point, I removed the footer band of the Davidoff Yamasá Culebra, lit up the cigar and moved on to the smoking phase.
The Davidoff Yamasá Culebra started out with a mix of milk chocolate, natural tobacco, cedar, and black pepper. Early on, the chocolate notes moved into the forefront. The natural tobacco and black pepper notes settled into the background. During the first third, the cedar notes were also in the background but at times surfaced in the forefront. Meanwhile, the retro-hale produced a mix of cedar and black pepper.
Later in the first third, the natural tobacco notes started to creep into the forefront with the chocolate notes. As the Davidoff Yamasá Culebra moved into the second third, the cedar notes settled in the background. The chocolate notes would remain primary, but as the Yamasá Culebra moved deeper in the second third, the natural tobacco notes became more prominent. Meanwhile, there still was some black pepper on the tongue and it still remained a part of the retro-hale.
By the final third of the Davidoff Yamasá Culebra, the natural tobacco took over as the primary note. The chocolate, cedar, and black pepper were all complementary notes. This is the way the cigar experience came to a close. The resulting nub was firm to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn and Draw
Panatelas in a culebra are typically under-filled so they can be twisted together. The Davidoff Limited Edition Culebra falls into that category. Like my experience of the Davidoff Nicaragua Culebra, I was quite surprised how the Davidoff Yamasá Culebra scored for both but and draw. Burn-wise the Yamasá Culebra stayed on its burn path and maintained a straight burn line. The resulting ash wasn’t overly firm, but it wasn’t loose or flaky either. The ash itself had a salt and pepper complexion to it. The burn rate and burn temperature were both ideal.
The draw to the Davidoff Yamasá Culebra was outstanding. It maintained the right amount of resistance, making this an enjoyable smoke from start to finish. Considering culebras are usually under-filled, this also surprised me.
Strength and Body
Strength and body-wise, I found the Davidoff Yamasá Culebra to be one of the bolder offerings in the Davidoff Yamasá Collection. This is a cigar that started off medium to full in strength and body. I found the intensity levels to remain relatively constant throughout the smoking experience. At the same time, I found both attributes to balance each other nicely with neither overshadowing the other.
While I go into every cigar review with a blank slate, its hard to ignore what a culebra brings to the table. Very simply, you are not going to get an optimum experience with a blend that is put into a less-filled, scrunched panatela. My experience with the Davidoff Nicaragua Culebra was less than spectacular, so I admit I didn’t have high expectations for the Yamasá Culebra. In the end, the Yamasá Culebra really surprised me, as it scored quite well. Every blend seems to tell its own story in a different size. The Yamasá Culebra provided a very enjoyable smoking experience. It wasn’t the most complex, but it was flavorful and enjoyable. It made me think how good this blend would be in at traditional panatela.
The Yamasá Culebra component is one I would recommend to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast and its one I would smoke again. In terms of this cigar, you are going to have to buy the whole Culebras Limited Edition coffin containing the three blends and that will run you $55.50. In my opinion, if you are into the adventure and fun of trying a culebra with some of Davidoff’s best blends, this is one worthy of trying.
Key Flavors: Chocolate, Natural Tobacco, Cedar, Pepper
Complexity: Medium Minus
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Medium to Full
Value: Try a Sample
News: Davidoff Culebras Features Discovery Pillar Blends
Price: $55.50 (3 Unit Culebra containing 3 different blends)
Brand Reference: Davidoff
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted.