A lot goes into creating any cigar. For new cigars, blends have to be created, a brand has to be envisioned, packaging has to be drawn up and oftentimes, there needs to be a story. It’s arguably significantly more challenging to remake a cigar. Not only do you have to repeat all those tasks, but you also aren’t able to start with a blank slate.
Davidoff has spent the last year going through this process with its new Davidoff Winston Churchill brand. Each part of the process to create the new Davidoff Winston Churchill has been done with careful considerations to avoid simply replicating the earlier cigar.
That process arguably starts and ends with the cigar and that’s why I spent time talking with Sam Reuter and Wiber Ventura, two members of the Davidoff blending team responsible for the new Davidoff Winston Churchill.
Reklame: What were the first steps you and your team took before you even started blending? How much time did you spend examining the character of Winston Churchill for inspiration?
Davidoff: We have immersed ourselves in better understanding Sir Winston Churchill – the man. Based on our research and talks with the Churchill family, it became clear that Sir Winston Churchill was a man of many talents, complexity and facets. We then developed a brief to our master blender: develop cigars of character that are as complex as the man himself.
Reklame: What is the approach when creating a new blend—i.e., is there a specific profile in mind ahead of time that the team tries to actualize, or does the team experiment with different tobaccos until something stands out, and refine it from there?
Davidoff: It is a similar approach to a chef creating a new recipe. We start with expressing via a brief to our master blender what we would like to achieve with the blend in terms of experience. The blend has to reflect the idea as well as the targeted palate stimulation. In this case, the product development team together with the brand team developed a brief for a cigar blend, based on the complexity of character of Sir Winston Churchill. The master blender looked to develop many blend options that meet the brief’s requirements. These blends were then tested in tasting panels across many regions to select the winning blend.
When choosing the final blend, we had several options at different strength levels. It was key that the cigar maintains the expected refinement and elegance of a Davidoff cigar, while pushing particular palate stimulations/flavours further than other Davidoff lines do. It was also important that the blend allowed aficionados to savor the complex flavours and aromas in the cigar.
Reklame: The company’s blends traditionally have been Dominican-centric, however Davidoff has spent a lot of time diversifying its portfolio over the past several years. Davidoff Winston Churchill utilizes a total of seven different leaves from four different countries—how was each specific tobacco in selected?
Davidoff: Our master blender blended many options to deliver a complex cigar. As it turned out, the targeted complexity of the blend was best achieved with a multi-layered – multi origin blend that leveraged the tobaccos of Nicaragua, Mexico, Ecuador and our home terroir – the Dominican Republic.
Reklame: Can you describe what the blending team feels each individual leaf gives to the blend? In terms of “X leaf yields Y flavor”.
Davidoff: The Dominican tobaccos are cultivated in the zones of Jicome, Damajagua and Martin Garcia.
Jicome, where the earth is more humid due to rivers crossing and the climate cooler due to the protection from the Cordillera Septentrional, we get thinner tobacco leaves with medium to full strength that help contribute to a very complete taste stimulation.
In Damajagua, the earth is even more humid and the climate is colder due to the forest and therefore less hours of sunshine. The tobacco leaves are therefore very thin and have a medium strength level. The tobacco is classified as being very sweet and creamy.
The two Nicaraguan filler tobaccos are grown in the mineral rich volcanic soils of Condega and Estelí, adding spiciness and depth of character to the cigar.
The black Mexican Binder is grown in the volcanic San Andrés region found in the southeastern part of the country near the Gulf of Mexico. The binder adds complexity and sweetness to the cigar.
To wrap this unique cigar, our master blender has chosen a beautiful Ecuador Rojiza wrapper, which adds complexity and creaminess to the overall experience.
Reklame: How would you describe the blend overall? Are there subtleties smokers may be prone to miss?
Davidoff: The blend overall is very aromatic and has flavours that are different to those found in current Davidoff cigars. The peppery, leathery and roasted notes are unique within the Davidoff Winston Churchill cigars. Some people may have preferred the cigar to be stronger. However, we felt that they would not be able to fully sense how the different flavours are continuously changing as they enjoyed the cigar.
Reklame: How were the four formats put into production decided upon?
Davidoff: The character facets of Sir Winston the man inspired the definition of shapes. It is the shapes of the cigars that deliver aromas which best reflects the character facets, thus bringing that character facet to life.
The Petit Corona format draws its inspiration from Sir Winston, the Artist: a thinner ring gauge, expressing flavors more intensely helping to express the creativity of an artist.
The Statesman inspired the Robusto format: a more robust cigar within the line-up, with deep aromas inspired by the imposing character of Sir Winston.
The Toro shape, that we chose for the commander is an imposing cigar that literally commands your palate from the first to the last third.
The Aristocrat on the other hand is delivering the flavours in such an elegant way that it is almost noble to enjoy this wonderful Churchill shape cigar.
Reklame: What do you think each format shows best about the blend?
Davidoff: Each format represents the blend in a different way, although the flavours and aromas stay the same, one should really smoke all 4 formats to take notice of the differences linked to the format. The choice of format will also be linked to the time one has available to fill beautifully.
The Petit Corona for example has more pepper at the beginning and an overall stronger character. The Robusto format on the other hand has more creaminess, leather and roasted flavours. The Toro is the format that harmonizes the other three formats. Finally the Churchill format delights with its elegance in terms of format and the flavours are present in a more subtle way.
Reklame: Davidoff has a reputation for consistency and quality control. What was the process like of getting things setup so that the Davidoff Winston Churchill will retain its quality and flavor down the line?
Davidoff: For Davidoff cigars to adhere to perfect quality standards, we make sure that the cigars have their time of resting to guarantee they’re in perfect condition for the launch. A resting time at the factory of 3 months and in our warehouses for at least 2 months is key and will always be maintained. Only a well-rested cigar with tobaccos that have been properly fermented, processed and aged can develop its full potential when it comes to flavours and aromas.
Additionally this guarantees the same flavourful blend for the years to come, thus maintaining Davidoff signature quality and consistency in taste.
Reklame: Can you talk a bit about the curing processes used on the Davidoff Winston Churchill? How long are the tobaccos aged?
Davidoff: All our tobaccos have a minimum of 3 ½ years process before entering to the production phase to craft the cigars. The tobaccos we chose were designed and tested one by one to best deliver the complexity of character we were aiming for the Davidoff Winston Churchill blend. An additional aging time was given to the cigar to deliver to an exceptional blend that pays tribute to Sir Winston Churchill. We are confident this blend will delight aficionados thanks to its charming and complex flavours and aromas from the first to the last puff.
Reklame: As the blenders behind Davidoff Winston Churchill, if given the opportunity to craft the perfect experience for someone to enjoy the blend for the first time, how would you go about it—set and setting, mindset, pairings, etc?
Davidoff: First, understanding the brief and the desired aficionado experience is key. In this case we wanted to craft a blend that delivers a unique and delightful experience vs. all other Davidoff lines that delivers on the Cigars of Character idea. We looked to create a very different palate stimulation. Having this in mind, it was clear that the blend should be very aromatic/flavourful, not too strong but very much balanced. An important factor for us was that the cigar does not turn bitter at the end, which is truly the case according to the feedback that we have received from aficionados who have enjoyed the cigar to the last inch.
Regarding pairing, the Davidoff WSC cigars are pairing perfectly with a light, fruity but not too peaky Whisky – a drink Sir Winston was notoriously accustomed to pair with his favorite cigars.
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