If you had to ask Davidoff fans what are the three most legendary cigars the company has released since leaving Cuba, you would likely hear three names a lot: 22, LE05, Diademas Finas.
Those names refer to three cigars—two from the company’s AVO brand—that were released in the first decade of the 2000s: the AVO 22 and AVO LE05, while the third is the white-band wearing Davidoff Diademas Finas.
This year is the year of anniversaries and the year of what’s old is new again, both of which apply to those three cigars in 2018. Davidoff of Geneva USA is rereleasing all three as part of the 30th anniversary of the AVO brand and the 50th anniversary of the Davidoff brand.
As for Davidoff’s anniversary, this might be a bit confusing. The Diademas Finas was released in 2006 celebrating the 100th birthday of Zino Davidoff, Davidoff then celebrated the century mark again in 2011 with the Davidoff 100 Years Geneva Robusto. tThere’s also the Davidoff of Geneva 25th Anniversary, released in 2015.
Here’s how all that math works out:
- Davidoff Diademas Finas (2006) — Celebrating the 100th birthday of Zino Davidoff
- Davidoff 100 Years Geneva (2011) — Celebrating the 100th anniversary of the opening of the store that became Davidoff
- Davidoff of Geneva 25th Anniversary (2015) — Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Davidoff brand in the U.S.
- Davidoff Diademas Finas Limited Edition 50th Anniversary (2018) — Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Davidoff brand
Zino Davidoff’s entry into the cigar world started with his parents, who founded a tobacco shop in Geneva, Switzerland in 1911. He would begin working at the store in the mid-1930s, and after World War II, he launched his own line of cigars using the Château Latour name, named after the famous winery in Bordeaux. In 1968, Davidoff released the Davidoff No. 1, No. 2 and Ambassadrice, the first three cigars to carry the Davidoff name. Those cigars were produced in Cuba, at the then-new El Laguito factory.
In 1970, Zino Davidoff sold his brand to Oettinger Imex AG, a Basel-based tobacco business, for around $1 million. The brand was taken globally and expanded into a variety of other products including cigarettes, fragrances, jewelry and others.
As for Davidoff cigars, they remained in Cuba until 1990, when the company opted to leave Cuba and move the production of its cigars to the Dominican Republic. Hendrik “Henke” Kelner, who was making the AVO brand at the time, was tasked with rolling the new, Dominican-made Davidoff brand. Eventually, Davidoff would open its own factory in the Dominican Republic, buy the AVO brand from Avo Uvezian and expand into American stores.
To celebrate the 100th birthday of the late Zino Davidoff in 2006, the company released three separate cigars: the 100th Anniversary Robusto, 100th Anniversary Diademas Finas and 100th Anniversary Diademas 100.
The Diademas Finas would become the most famous of the trio—perhaps because most people were unaware of the much smaller production Diademas 100—a 6 3/4 x 50 diadema using vintage tobacco. At the time, Kelner refused to disclose the blend, stating only that the filler blend was Dominican and the tobaccos were aged for between three and four years. The three cigars were different, notably, the Diademas 100 used tobacco that ranged from 7-13 years of aging.
Earlier this month, Davidoff announced that the Diademas Finas would return, but with some changes. For starters, the blend has been disclosed as an Ecuadorian habano wrapper over a Dominican olor seco binder and Dominican fillers from 2005.
Secondly, the packaging has changed significantly.
There are bands, two of them, which is two more than the original. Additionally, the cigars are being offered in jars of 10 as opposed to boxes of 10. While the original release paid tribute to the original Geneva tobacco store, this release is inspired by various regions: Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
There are four designs and a total of 8,000 jars between them. They were designed by Mariane Léger, who was also tasked with creating accessories for the anniversary.
- Zino Davidoff 100th Anniversary Diademas Finas (6 3/4 x 50) — 2006 — $22 (Boxes of 10, $220) — n/a
- Davidoff Diademas Finas Limited Edition 50th Anniversary (6 3/4 x 50) — 2018 — $36 (Boxes of 10, $360) — 8,000 Jars of 10 Cigars (80,000 Total Cigars)
- Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Diademas Finas Limited Edition 50th Anniversary
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Cigars Davidoff
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano)
- Binder: Dominican Republic (Olor)
- Filler: Dominican Republic (2005)
- Length: 6 3/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 50
- Vitola: Diadema
- MSRP: $36 (Boxes of 10, $360)
- Release Date: July 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: 8,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (80,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Redux: 3
The cigar is darker, more vivid and oilier than what I remember. The picture above certainly confirms this fact, but I always remembered that the Diadema Finas—particularly without a band identifying what it was—looked relatively dull outside of the relatively rare shape. It’s round, but the features at the foot and head are very sharp, even for the vitola. Aroma off the wrapper is acidic with some peanut oil and leather. The flavors—while not plentiful in numbers—are medium-plus and crisp. The nose has a lot more chocolate along with a bit of black pepper, but given the tiny size of the exposed foot and the large amounts of the wrapper, the foot smells pretty much like the wrapper. The cold draw has peanuts, some breads and a brownie-like finish. What’s odd is the mixture of sensations leads my nose into picking up a lot more chocolate coming off the wrapper. As I’ve explained before, it’s not so much the actual flavors, but more the chemical reactions.
It’s somewhat challenging to pick up flavors on the first puff. There are some there, but the unique nature of the foot means I really want to take a second puff as quickly as possible to make sure the cigar stays lit, which is in direct conflict with how I normally start these reviews. In the end, I find a compromise and pick up a berry sweetness, some nuttiness and sugar cookie. The finish has an underlying sweetness, creaminess, nuts and a contrasting mixture of minerality and grassiness. The first third settles into a varying mixture of semi-sweet flavors such as breads, creaminess and a thicker roux-like flavor. There’s a constant fight between the cigar, which flavor-wise is best served waiting two-and-a-half minutes between puffs, and my general approach, which is closer to 90 seconds between puffs. Through the nose, I pick up oatmeal, minerality, orange peels and peppermint. The finish has bits black and white peppers, particularly towards the back of the throat. Flavor is medium-full, body is medium-full and strength is medium. Construction has no inherent flaws, at least not ones that are scoresheet measures, but the cigar does have a tendency to get hot and harsh and it seems like it takes a lot longer than normal for the cigar to cool back down.
The second third of the Diademas Finas 50 retains a lot of creaminess, though it’s not as dominant as before. In the mouth, there’s some melted milk chocolate, apples and a bit of paprika. Through the nose, particularly before the halfway mark, there’s a lot of grapefruit and some meatiness. That changes as the cigar gets closer to the secondary band, and a bit of the infamous Davidoff mustiness, oftentimes described as a mushroom flavor, begins to show itself, though only in the nose. The finish has a crisp bread flavor, like a French loaf, some grapefruit and a red pepper. When the cigar is hot, which is once again happening more than I’d like, the retrohales can be a punishing mixture of black pepper. At times I have a desire to push the cigar and get some fo the pepper as it adds contrast to the flavor, particularly outside the finish, but it would be an awful experience if it was the only thing the retrohale has to offer. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium. As it was before, construction is fine sans the bright red cherry that appears too long on the cigar.
The main flavor, i.e. the mouth, is very similar to the second third. But there’s now a different type of creaminess joining the breads and apples. It reminds me of when there’s just a bit too much baking soda in a homemade sweet tea, and it floats to the top of the drink creating a Southerner’s style of crema. The retrohales vary between pepper and grapefruit and the aforementioned Davidoff mustiness. There are breads, the aforementioned mustinesss and underlying, and rather mild, black pepper on the finish. It really depends on the puff which flavors I get and which ones stand out and there doesn’t seem to be much of a rhyme or reason. The flavor remains medium-full, body is full and strength is medium.
- I’ve had a lot of conversations with consumers about the aforementioned notable cigars being brought back—AVO 22, AVO LE05 and Davidoff Diademas Finas—and I’m of the belief that if Davidoff is able to replicate just one of the three to be as good as the original, mission accomplished. I’d say Eladio Diaz and company are off to a very good start.
- I don’t know how long it will be before these cigars ship, but regardless if it’s July 1 or July 30, I recommend that you remind yourself to slow down. Even with two minutes in between puffs, the Diademas Finas 50 has a habit of getting warm and then staying warm. It seems the cigar wants to burn quicker, but the flavor does best when giving the cigar close to three minutes in between puffs, something that is completely unnatural even to a slow smoker like me.
- As for the flavor, many will be concerned by my mention of the traditional Davidoff mustiness/mushroom flavor and I understand it. That flavor—which I associate with the Dominican olor tobacco that Davidoff and others use—is off-putting to many smokers. In many blends you either don’t taste olor or it overtakes the profile. That’s not the case here and it is very much a secondary flavor.
- My notes from a review also suggest that it was a secondary flavor in the original Diademas Finas.
- I’m a big fan of the diadema vitola, which is a thinner perfecto, though it’s incredibly unpopular.
- This is an easy nomination for our 2018 Packaging Awards. The whole package is just so well done.
- I think the humidifier in the jar is a good idea as the jar seals pretty tight. I would recommend putting a Boveda pack in the jar, or storing the jar with the lid slightly opened.
- In addition, Davidoff really went out of its way to protect the cigars from damage. That includes foam padding in the box, cellophane on the cigars and one unique thing I’ve not seen before: dividers in the jar itself.
- One interesting thing is Davidoff opted to number each of the four jars 1-2,000. Meaning that while we have jar 1,492, there are in fact three other 1,492 jars.
- I wonder if there is someone in Switzerland whose job it is to find ways to make cool-looking Davidoff packaging that is impossible to photograph. Ah, metalic white jars, and a semi-metalic band, a really metalic secondary band. They will love that.
- Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Davidoff of Geneva USA, which advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 50 minutes despite my best efforts to prolong it.
After finishing my tasting notes, I sat down and started writing a bottom line text, as I always do. That version started: I did not smoke the original Diademas Finas when it came out, but I cannot imagine this is what it was like. After finishing the rest of the paragraph, I read my review of the Diademas Finas and was surprised. Every indication is that the cigar I smoked in 2018 could turn into the one I reviewed a few years ago, a magnificent cigar with eight years of age on it. I'm not sure if that's what will happen here, but it's certainly an easy to imagine the possibility and one that I will prepare for by buying a couple jars.