In 2014 Davidoff released a very interesting cigar called the Art Edition, a project that paired a cigar with the work of an up-and-coming artist. The idea was born out of the Davidoff Art Initiative, which was started in 2012. The mission of the program is “to make a lasting contribution to the contemporary art field, in particular in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean region.” Out of this program came the aforementioned Davidoff Art Edition cigar, with the inaugural 2014 version featuring art on the box and bands inspired by the pieces done by Quisqueya Henríquez. There were two versions of the box, with each edition featuring matching bands on the cigars inside, though the blend for the cigars were the same.
This year we saw the return of the Art Edition, this time with a slightly different take on the idea and a slightly modified blend as well. Artist Olivia McGilchrist created a 10 minute video commissioned by the Davidoff Art Institute called “from many sides.”
“My recent creative practice is deeply inspired by a longing to reconnect with my birth land as well as the cultural space of the Caribbean,” said McGilchrist. “My education abroad awarded me the opportunity to learn new media technology platforms but I also had access to local art hubs and traditional artistic practices when I returned home to Jamaica. Because of the duality on my experiences, I aspire to create artwork that overturns biographical or social expectations through a Caribbean-centered, multi-media arts practice.”
From McGilchrist’s video, 7,000 stills were created and put on the 7,000 boxes made for the 2016 Art Edition, making each box a truly unique release.
“Davidoff is continuously looking for new ways to engage with and support contemporary art,” said Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, ceo of Oettinger Davidoff AG, at the time of the cigar’s announcement. “The Limited Art Edition supports the DAI’s mission of familiarizing the international audience with artists from the Caribbean and it helps fund the Davidoff Art Initiative at the same time. Olivia’s video work is a fascinating visual blend of regionally specific elements. Because crafting and blending are the same values at the heart of everything we do, we feel that Davidoff is perfectly matched with this extraordinary artist.”
- Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Art Edition 2016
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Cigars Davidoff
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Dominican Piloto
- Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto Visos, San Vicente Mejorado Seco, Yamasa Seco, San Vicente Mejorado Visos)
- Length: 5 15/16 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Perfecto
- MSRP: $39 (Boxes of 10, $390)
- Release Date: June 1, 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: 7,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (70,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Not quite as beautiful as I remember the 2014’s wrapper, this year’s Art Edition is still nice enough, with a mottled brown wrapper that seems to highlight the small veins on the leaf. While the wrapper might not look stunning, the feel is still quite luxurious – extremely soft and slightly oily, giving the cigar a pleasing tactile experience. Gently squeezing the cigar, there is a little too much give in the figurado bulge. The rest of the cigar has some give, but just stops short of being too squishy. There is a delicate barnyard aroma coming off the wrapper, with light hay, a bit of leather, some vanilla and a touch of spice. The cold draw is completely different, with a large fruit note of orange marmalade, berries and fig. In addition, there is a bit of spice, hay, and a touch of grains mixed in the background.
Starting into the first third the profile is a tad harsh, with lots of pepper up front. The filler is seemingly burning faster than the wrapper around the bulge, and needs a touch up to help get everything started. Once I’m past the bulge the burn starts to act normal, and we see the adoption of a much more classic Davidoff profile. Smooth and mellow, there is a sugary sweetness that hits my tongue on the draw, followed by some musty wood notes, a bit of the previous fruits, some spice and in the background is the pepper that was so forward at the very beginning. The draw is a little on the open side of ideal, and the burn has certainly cooperated more now that we’re past the perfecto bulge. While the ash is holding on easily through the one inch mark, it’s quite flaky and not exactly what I would call dense. The profile continues to perform well, with wood, fruit and spice up front, followed by pepper and a sweet caramelized sugar note in the background.
The second third continues much the same, though perhaps slightly more spice-forward than before, followed closely by the wood and fruit notes, with the pepper and sweet caramel in the background. The burn isn’t what I would call sharp at this point, but it’s mostly staying even and straight. The ash continues to be a little flaky, but the majority of it holds on strong. Right around the halfway mark the sweet caramel dies out to a very minor note, while the pepper has come forward a little. Musty wood, strong spice and rich fruit notes still dance around the forefront of the profile, meshing a little more than before when the spice was the lead note.
The final third sees the pepper moving forward more and finally not what I would call a background note any longer. The wood, spice and fruit are still going strong, while a caramel sweetness still lingers in a wispy fashion, barely there but still present in some fashion. The ash has finally stopped being as flaky, and while the burn has gotten slightly crooked, it’s not off enough to justify a touch up. As I get towards the end, the cigar continues to produce smooth, cool smoke and finishes with no harshness.
- The 2014 Art Edition placed seventh in our 2014 Awards: halfwheel 25.
- There was no Art Edition released in 2015.
- Unlike the previous version, the bands are all the same and do not correspond with the boxes version of art. Considering there are 7,000 different versions however – it doesn’t make sense to create unique bands for each box.
- 7,000 different stills. Think about that for a moment.
- You can view the teaser of the video on Davidoff’s Vimeo channel.
- We don’t factor price into our score, but I’ll talk about it here briefly. I think $39 for the cigar itself is a little pricey. Having said that, if you buy the entire box, you’re getting a unique piece of art, so that certainly would factor into the value of what you’re getting.
- Given where things stand with FDA, it will be intriguing to see if and even how this series can continue. Given the need to have the art ready for the packaging, it presents a number of challenges.
- The Davidoff Art Initiative includes a residency at Altos de Chavón in the Dominican Republic.
- Davidoff of Geneva USA advertises on halfwheel.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time averaged just under two hours.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar and Corona Cigar Co. both carry the Davidoff Art Edition 2016.
The first question everybody will have is how this compares to the 2014 version, and I have to say - the 2014 version was something special. I went into the Davidoff Art Edition 2016 with pretty high hopes, which always intensifies any minor issues I experience in a cigar. Starting out the cigar was a little harsh, and the perfecto end seemed to have some construction issues that certainly could have attributed to the harshness. Luckily, all that cleared up almost instantly after getting around the bulge, and the rest of the cigar was made up of a great profile and pretty good construction. Overall it was a good experience and one I certainly suggest you have for yourself, but I don’t think it will have the same pull that the first version did, which I still seem to find myself picking up from time to time.