If you had asked me two months ago what I thought the next Davidoff release would be, a culebra would not have even been in the top 50 choices.
There are some very good reasons for that: culebras are odd looking, cost significantly more and take longer to produce than more standard vitolas, and for the most part are not exactly huge sellers. Davidoff’s own culebra, the Special C was discontinued in 2013, presumably not because of great sales.
Of course, the vitola has a long history, with some people saying that the culebra size was invented because Cuban rollers were allowed to take three cigars home each day to smoke after work, but that many of those cigars ended up on the black market. To combat this, the factories decided to twist the cigars given to rollers in order to make them more difficult to sell. Another school of thought was that factories forced the rollers to smoke culebras due to the fact that those vitolas were easier to keep track of and account for.
In April, Davidoff announced that it had shipped the Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition, which combines three of Davidoff’s Discovery Series blends together: Davidoff Escurio, Davidoff Nicaragua and Davidoff Yamasá.
While each individual cigar comes in at 6 1/2 x 33, the three cigars are twisted together to create the aforementioned culebra vitola, which are then packaged in individual coffins.
As with the rest of the Yamasá line, the cuelbra vitola is composed of a wrapper from Yamasá in the Dominican Republic, a San Vicente binder from the Yamasá and filler tobaccos from Condega and Estelí, Nicaragua as well as Dominican piloto and mejorado tobaccos.
In terms of total production, the Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition is limited to just 400 boxes of 24 coffins worldwide, which works out to 9,600 cigars split evenly between the three blends. Each individual culebra coffin carries an MSRP of $55.50 before taxes and they were rolled at Cigars Davidoff in the Dominican Republic.
There are now six different vitolas in the Davidoff Yamasá line.
- Davidoff Yamasá Petit Churchill (4 x 48) — Regular Production — $12.90 (Box of 14, $180.60)
- Davidoff Yamasá Robusto (5 x 50) — Regular Production — $19.70 (Box of 12, $236.40)
- Davidoff Yamasá Pirámides (6 1/8 x 52) — Regular Production — $23 (Box of 12, $276)
- Davidoff Yamasá Toro (6 x 52) — Regular Production — $22.70 (Box of 12, $272.40)
- Davidoff Yamasá Gordo (6 x 60) — Regular Production — $23.90 (Boxes of 12, $286.80)
- Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition Yamasá (6 1/2 x 33) — 400 Boxes of 24 Coffins (3,200 Total Cigars) — $18.50 (Coffins of 3, $55.50)
- Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition Yamasá
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Cigars Davidoff
- Wrapper: Dominican Republic (Yamasá)
- Binder: Dominican Republic (San Vicente)
- Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto, Mejorado) & Nicaragua (Condega & Esteli)
- Length: 6 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 33
- Vitola: Culebra
- MSRP: $18.50 (Coffins of 3, $55.50)
- Release Date: April 2016
- Number of Cigars Released: 400 Boxes of 24 Coffins (3,200 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
As is the case with all culebras, the Davidoff Yamasá Cuelbra is a head turner visually, twisted almost to the point that you would think it is impossible to smoke and covered in a mocha brown wrapper that is a bit rough to the touch. In addition, there is quite a bit of give when it is squeezed but very little oil present. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong hay, espressos beans, sawdust, generic nuts, leather and a touch of sweetness, while the cold draw brings flavors of cinnamon, dark chocolate, earth, cedar, anise and sweet vanilla along with some slight black pepper.
Starting out, the Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition Yamasá features some fairly aggressive oak and cinnamon flavors on the palate, along with some very obvious black pepper on the retrohale. There is some sweetness on the retrohale as well that reminds me of vanilla beans, although it is not very strong as this point in the profile. I am also picking up some very slight mesquite woodiness on the finish, as well as other notes of earth, almonds, dark chocolate and hay. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent so far, and while I have to touch up the burn once, it is not even close to bad enough to concern me. In addition, the strength is surprisingly light, and fails to hit anywhere close to the medium mark by the end of the first third.
The mesquite woodiness begins to increase substantially in second third of the Davidoff Yamasá Cuelbra, easily becoming the dominant flavor, followed by notes of cinnamon, bitter espresso beans, roasted nuts, gritty earth, leather and cocoa nibs. The sweetness is still present on the retrohale, but it now reminds me of a dark cherry note, and it has increased enough to really affect the profile in a positive way. The draw remains excellent, and while the burn is far from razor-sharp, it is not giving me any issues worth noting. The smoke production has increased dramatically, but the strength is still quite light, hitting a point about halfway between mild and medium by the time the second third comes to close.
Coming into the final third of the Davidoff Yamasá Cuelbra and the profile features the same mesquite woodiness as the second third, but the dark cherry sweetness has increased in strength, as has the espresso bean note, leading to an interesting combination of dominant flavors. Other notes of bread, gritty earth, dark chocolate, hay, cinnamon and slight spice flit in and out, while the smoke production remains fairly consistent with the second third. The burn has evened up nicely and the burn continues to impress, while the overall strength does manage to reach the medium mark, it stalls out there by the time I put the nub down with less than an inch to go.
- Culebra translates to snake from Spanish.
- No, you do not smoke all three cigars at once; instead, you untie the ribbon and smoke each cigar individually. I do wonder what the flavor profile would be if you smoked all three blends together, but don’t care enough to actually try it, particularly not with a $55 cigar.
- Yamasá is a region in central Dominican Republic located about 20 miles north of the capital of Santo Domingo, and has long been known to not be very forgiving when it comes to growing tobacco.
- Construction on just about every culebra I have smoked has been fantastic, and the Davidoff Yamasá incarnation was no different, with a great burn and fantastic draw on all three samples. In addition, the smoke was plentiful, albeit quite thin in body. Having said that, due to the combination of a small ring gauge and the twists in the cigar, the ash did not stay on for more than about half inch at a time.
- I moved the band from the foot to the traditional location near the cap to make the photographs more slightly more visually interesting.
- Some of my favorite non-Cuban cigars over the years have been culebras, including the Oliva Serie V Culebra and Tatuaje Black Label The Old Man and The C. Interestingly, I have never smoked a Cuban culebra.
- The Yamasá Pirámides took 12th place in our Top 25 for 2016.
- Davidoff of Geneva USA advertises on halfwheel.
- Cigars for this review were provided to halfwheel by Davidoff of Geneva USA.
- The final smoking time for all three samples averaged an extremely quick one hour and 7 minutes.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Davidoff Culebras Limited Edition coffins, the only place you can get them is at a Davidoff of Geneva — since 1911 flagship store or online on Davidoff’s website.
I am always interested to see how a different vitola in a great blend changes the flavors and profile, and after loving the Pirámides size in the Yamasá line, I was looking forward to what the culebra brought to the table. While the culebra is not quite as complex or as flavorful as the Pirámides, it still has quite a bit going for it, including a wonderful combination of mesquite woodiness and dark cherry sweetness as well as the fantastic construction. While I have not smoked the other two blends that are included in the culebra yet, the Yamasá culebra is almost good enough to warrant purchasing the entire coffin just for it, and that says enough.