The Davidoff Year of the Rat Limited Edition 2020 is the ninth installment of the company’s Chinese Zodiac inspired limited edition cigars. Each year these cigars feature a different blend in a different size with exquisite packaging reflecting the particular Zodiac theme. The Chinese New Year falls between January 21st and February 20th, but typically Davidoff has released the Zodiac in the November timeframe and the Davidoff Year of the Rat followed suit with this pattern. Today, we take a closer look at this release.
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, re-released in 2018 as a part of the VAULT Series)
2013: Davidoff Year of the Snake (Re-released 2017 as a part of the Davidoff VAULT Series)
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
2019: Davidoff Year of the Pig
2020: Davidoff Year of the Rat
Assuming Davidoff continues to annually cycle through the Chinese Zodiac, the following would be the four remaining releases,
2021 Year of the Ox
2022 Year of the Tiger
2023 Year of the Rabbit
While Davidoff is the first company to launch a Chinese New Year Series, several other companies have released their interpretations of the Chinese New Year. 2020 is the Year of the Rat and this year on the Chinese calendar has seen releases by not only Davidoff, but Maya Selva Cigars, Drew Estate, and VegaFina.
Without further ado, let’s turn our attention back to the Davidoff Year of the Rat and see what this cigar brings to the table:
Blend and Origin
The blend features a dark Ecuadorian Havana wrapper over a Nicaraguan binder and fillers consisting of different Nicaraguan and Dominican tobaccos. Production is handled at Cigars Davidoff in the Dominican Republic.
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan Semilla B
Filler: Dominican (Piloto Visus, Piloto Seco, San Vincente Mejorado Visus), Nicaraguan (Esteli Visus, Condega Visus)
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: Cigars Davidoff
The Davidoff Year of the Rat is offered in one size – a Toro measuring 6 x 52. The cigar is presented in ten-count boxes. A total of 10,000 boxes are slated to be released worldwide.
The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper of the Davidoff Year of the Rat had a dark cinnamon color with a light sheen of oil on it. Upon closer examination, there was some mottling that could be seen on the surface. The darker color of the wrapper did a good job at hiding the wrapper seams. There were some visible veins. The surface of the wrapper was slightly bumpy.
There are two bands on the Davidoff Year of the Rat. 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 the text “YEAR OF THE RAT” in gold font.
Prior to lighting up the Davidoff Year of the Rat, a straight cut was used to remove the cap. Once the cap was detached, it was time to commence the pre-light draw experience. The dry draw delivered a mix of cedar, mixed fruit, and a subtle cream note. This was a satisfactory pre-light experience. At this point, it was time to light up the Davidoff Year of the Rat and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Davidoff Year of the Rat opened up with notes of cedar, fruit, natural tobacco, and white pepper. It didn’t take long for the natural tobacco notes to move into the forefront. The natural tobacco notes had a slight bitter component, but was rounded out by spicy and sweet notes with the cedar, fruit, and white pepper in the background. As the cigar progressed through the first third, the fruit notes morphed into more of a citrus quality and joined the natural tobacco in the forefront. Meanwhile, there was an extra layer of white pepper.
During the second third, there was an increase in the cedar and pepper notes. The cedar joined the citrus notes in the forefront. The natural tobacco receded into the background where it joined the pepper notes. At the same time, some hay notes emerged in the forefront.
Toward the latter part of the second third, earth notes surfaced in the forefront with the cedar. The citrus notes diminished slightly. As the Davidoff Year of the Rat went into the final third, there was a combination of cedar and earth in the forefront with the citrus, natural tobacco, hay, and pepper in the background. This is the way the Davidoff Year of the Rat came to a close. The resulting nub was slighly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
Despite a slight amount of jaggedness on the burn line, the Davidoff Year of the Rat had no problem maintaining a straight burn path. The resulting ash had a silvery gray color with some darker streaks mixed in. This was an ash that was skewed toward the firmer side. As for the burn rate and burn temperature, both were ideal.
The draw to the Davidoff Year of the Rat had a touch of resistance to it – which is something that I like. At the same time, the Davidoff Year of the Rat was a cigar that was a low maintenance cigar to derive flavor from.
Strength and Body
In terms of strength and body, the Davidoff Year of the Rat started out in the mild to medium range. Both attributes increased in intensity throughout the smoking experience. Shortly before the midway point, the cigar moved into medium territory for both attributes. The intensity of the attributes continued to increase in the second half, but the Year of the Rat didn’t go beyond medium territory.
Cigar Coop numeric scores do not factor the price into the calculation. I mention this here because the Davidoff Year of the Rat is priced at $39.99. After going through the review cycle of the Davidoff Year of the Rat, it scored nicely at an 88. However, when I looked at my overall experience, while this wasn’t a bad cigar something was missing. Yes, the cigar had excellent construction, a nice amount of complexity, and balance, but the flavors delivered simply had no wow factor – and it’s hard to overlook that whether this was a $3.99 or a $39.99 cigar.
Looking at the Value rating that does incorporate price, it’s hard to go beyond saying this might be a cigar you would want to try first before making the $39.99 investment.
Key Flavors: Cedar, Fruit, Citrus, Natural Tobacco, Earth, White Pepper, Hay
Complexity: Medium to High
Strength: Mild to Medium (1st Half), Medium (2nd Half)
Body: Mild to Medium (1st Half), Medium (2nd Half)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Try a Sample
News: Davidoff Year of the Rat Limited Edition 2020 Announced
Brand Reference: Davidoff
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted