If there’s something I’ve been keeping a bit of an eye on over the past few years, it’s the development of Jeff Borysiewicz’s Florida Sun Grown tobacco project.
If you’ve been keeping an eye on cigars in recent years, you’ve undoubtedly seen the name pop up from time to time, quite possibly by way of the aptly named FSG cigar line from Drew Estate, which uses the tobacco in the filler.
The tobacco is grown on a relatively small farm in Clermont, Fla., owned by Borysiewicz, who is better known as the proprietor of Corona Cigar Co. It has also been used in a store exclusive for the Davidoff of Geneva — since 1911 retail location in Tampa, Fla., a franchised store which is owned and operated by Borysiewicz. Those stores received another Davidoff creation that uses Florida Sun Grown tobacco as well, the Davidoff Exclusive Corona FSG 20th Anniversary. AGNORSA Leaf has also produced private labels for Corona’s store.
This year, Davidoff released another cigar using Florida Sun Grown tobacco, a limited edition called the Davidoff Florida Selection Limited Edition 2018 that was made available to retailers across the country. The tobacco is featured in the blend alongside tobacco from Estelí, Nicaragua and a variety of Dominican fillers: piloto viso, San Vicente seco and Yamasá ligero. It is bound with a Nicaraugan habano binder grown in Jalapa and then wrapped with an Ecuadorian habano 2000 leaf.
Like with many limited editions, the cigar is available in a single vitola, a 6 x 52 belicoso that has become quite common in recent years for such releases from Davidoff. It’s also not a cheap cigar, priced at $29.90 per cigar, with 2,500 boxes of 10 cigars produced.
- Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Florida Selection Limited Edition 2018
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Cigars Davidoff
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Habano 2000)
- Binder: Nicaragua (Jalapa)
- Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto Viso, San Vicente Seco and Yamasá Ligero), Nicaragua (Estelí) & U.S.A. (Florida)
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Belicoso
- MSRP: $29.90 (Boxes of 10, $299)
- Release Date: October 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: 2,500 Boxes of 10 CIgars (25,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The Davidoff Florida Selection comes in what has become a very familiar shape for Davidoff in recent years, a 6 x 52 belicoso with a head that quickly tapers to a point as opposed to the more gradual and elongated style of a torpedo. The cigar appears very well constructed with an incredibly firm core that offers little give, while the seams are flat and nearly invisible thanks to a very evenly colored wrapper leaf. There are some veins on the matte finished and dark toffee-hued capa, but they are small and unobtrusive, while gliding my fingers over the leaf reveal more oil than my eyes suggested that the leaf would contain. From the foot of the cigar I get a very neutral and mild aroma at first, with pretzel or pizza dough the first thing to come to mind. Having smoked a few puritos of the cigar’s signature tobacco, I take a few more deep whiffs to try and pick out its sweet and slightly spicy aroma, which comes out eventually as a tag along to a subtle cedar smell. One sample is surprisingly vegetal, reminding me of the stems of freshly picked tobacco leaves. The cold draw is a bit more engaging than the aroma, with easy air flow delivering a first flavor of dry lumber, followed by some peppery earth on subsequent draws, with a slightly spicy fruit salad sweetness on the finish.
Once the foot of the Davidoff Florida Selection is lit, the cigar begins delivering what I have become accustomed to as the Florida Sun Grown flavor profile: a fairly big note that is simultaneously delivering cedar, pepper, spice and just a bit of sweetness. As I have both been told and experienced, FSG tobacco tends to be a fairly potent leaf, meaning its flavor can be communicated through a blend without having to use lots of it, and that seems to be the case here. It’s a mouthful of flavor right out of the gate, though the gruffer fringe notes can be a touch grating with pepper. After the first clump of ash falls, the cigar stays on the peppery side but the overall body and intensity retreat a bit from medium-full to a more medium level, though there is still some aggression from the smoke which can grate the throat in its fuller examples. The burn line on the first sample is on the wavy side, but otherwise the cigar smokes quite well.
There’s still plenty of pepper to be found in the Davidoff Florida Selection as the burn line crosses into the second third of the cigar, with both retrohales and puffs delivering a very clean profile. I get a bit brighter expression through the nose, more white pepper that leaves a lasting tingle in the nose, while the tongue gets a more traditional black pepper expression that gets complemented by cedar and oak, along with an earthiness that comes and goes on an almost puff-by-puff basis. There is a fair amount going on between the flavor and aroma, offering plenty for the senses to dive into and making for an impressively complex yet balanced cigar through the midway point. If I have to knock something, it’s that the smoke can get a bit aggressive in the throat, an interesting mix of black pepper and dry earth which has the effect you’re likely imagining. The draw is generally very good.
Entering the final third, the cigar is still upfront with its pepper, morphing it into a sensation that has a red chili pepper flake component in terms of how it goes after the throat. It’s by no means harsh, just a bit more energetic than some might prefer from their smoke. The ash isn’t the prettiest thing to look at given that it has become flaky and jagged in its appearance, though it still holds on at its base fairly well. Once the burn line passes where the bands would be, the burn line gets a bit wavy but the cigar continues to draw well with a good amount of smoke, with the flavor turning decidedly wood-laden and now just accented by pepper instead of being led by it. There’s a bit of earthiness to be found with an underlying spiciness giving it a distinct character. The cigar finishes on a medium-plus level of strength, while the flavor intensity is medium-full and ticking up with the puff. The construction remains generally solid, with the cigar only needing a relight when I focus more on these words than on it.
- I recently had the opportunity to visit the Florida Sun Grown tobacco farm in Clermont, Fla. and it was everything I hoped it would be. Tobacco was growing and being harvested, and being able to be among American-grown premium cigar tobacco was incredibly enjoyable, including smoking an FSG puro and some cigars made with FSG tobacco, as well as eating Florida Sun Grown bananas grown on the farm.
- For some reason, the first cigar really struggled to get an even initial lighting; I’m not sure if it was the lighter I was using, the tobacco or just simple user error, but it easily took a good minute to 90 seconds to get it evenly toasted, which was significantly longer than the other two samples.
- While there is no shortage of flavor and sensory stimulation from the Davidoff Florida Selection Limited Edition 2018, it doesn’t deliver much in the way of a nicotine punch. It’s a fairly strong cigar flavor-wise, but not much beyond that.
- I have no idea how Davidoff arrives at the proclamation that this cigar has a 65-minute smoking time, though I’d love to know.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes on average.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Both Davidoff and Corona Cigar Co. advertise on halfwheel.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Corona Cigar Co. and JR Cigar carries the Davidoff Florida Selection Limited Edition 2018.
There are few projects in recent memory that have gotten me as interested or excited as the Florida Sun Grown project has. Not only is it impressive to see someone invest and effectively gamble on the viability of an American-grown tobacco, having a new varietal of tobacco to taste and experiment with in different blends is almost always a welcome development. In the case of the Davidoff Florida Selection Limited Edition 2018, the blend uses the FSG tobacco to further amplify what is seemingly an already potent blend, but not so much so that the tobacco gets lost in the combination. It's a big, flavorful cigar that didn't disappoint my palate, with solid construction to boot. At $30 per cigar, before taxes, it will certainly remain in the category of being an occasional smoke in my rotation, but I hope that enough people try and enjoy it to show that domestically grown tobacco is not not just viable and enjoyable, but downright desirable.