Cigar Review: Year of the Dog by Davidoff

  • YotD_straightVitola: Gran Churchill
  • 7” x 50 ring gauge 
  • $40.99
  • Purchased at Burns Tobacconist

Background

It’s getting close to the end of the Gregorian calendar year and if you’re a Davidoff fan, you know what that means: it’s time for the company’s annual Chinese New Year release. The Chinese Year of the Dog begins on the Gregorian calendar’s February 16, 2018.

It is said that this release was inspired by a previous Chinese Zodiac release: Year of the Snake. It uses Dominican PIloto (Seco and Viso), San Vicente Ligero and Nicaraguan Estelí Seco fillers, a Dominican San Vicente Seco binder and an Ecuadorian Habano Claro wrapper.

These come 10 to a box and there are only 9000 boxes being made for the entire world. Retail price is set above the $40 per stick mark, which is a little higher than these used to be (Year of the Monkey was mid-high $30s), but a little lower than last year’s Year of the Rooster (a diadema that went for $42+). Those prices are reflective of what I have actually seen the cigars sell for, with my local cigar taxes taken into account…some places may be less (if they have lower taxes, or elect to adhere strictly to MSRP pricing), others may be more (lots of states out there with higher tobacco tax rates).

I bought one sample of Year of the Dog at Burns Tobacconist, where I work. We will have them available there for the foreseeable future (each store received 5 boxes). Leaf Enthusiast site sponsor, Maxamar/Small Batch, is also a Davidoff Appointed Merchant and will does have them in stock as of this writing.

YotD_bandPrelight

Like previous years’ releases, the box for the Year of the Dog is spectacular and almost over the top. It is an elaborate combination of wood grain and lacquered surfaces with red and gold featuring prominently (good luck colors in Chinese culture). The design uses odd, eye-catching angles and makes you wish the box was re-usable as a humidor…it’s that nice.

The Year of the Dog’s wrapper was a milk chocolate brown color with minimal variation or mottling. It had an aroma that mixed earth, cedar and grass. The foot of the cigar had a little more earth and a grassiness, with just a touch of a spicier note.

The cold draw was excellent and featured flavors of grass, bread, cedar, and a little black pepper.

Flavor

The first few puffs displayed a ripe, dark fruit sweetness accompanied by lesser notes of cedar and hay and a slight pepper burn on the palate. The retrohale was nutty with a heavier pepper influence. About 10 minutes in I started getting some interesting salty notes in the mix. Toward the end of the first third the flavor profile picked up some leathery notes, as well.

The second third progressed with leathery notes up front and earth and cedar taking a supporting role and the salty and sweet flavors still providing a solid undercurrent of complexity.

Earthiness came to the forefront in the final third, pushing leathery notes down to mix with the cedar. The sweet and salty notes were a small accenting note, but pepper spice made a comeback.

YOTD_boxConstruction

As you would expect with Davidoff…perfect construction.

Value

Very, very expensive cigar. To mitigate the hefty price tag, though, there was immaculate execution and a fantastic flavor profile. Definitely a “special occasion only” price point, though.

Conclusions

The Year of the Dog was a tour de force of complexity in a medium-to-full-bodied cigar. It was definitely a step up from the Year of the Rooster and takes a place comfortably next to Year of the Monkey in terms of overall flavor profile and level of experience. This is not a cheap cigar by anyone’s standards and probably won’t be a regular smoke for anyone reading this (although…who knows?), but it’s definitely something to keep in mind for Chinese New Year celebrations (weather permitting…it is in February) or some other time when you want to live large.

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 2/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 4.5/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 9.5/10

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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