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Davidoff Limited Edition 2017 Year of the Rooster

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While you’ve probably cleared your system of wishing people a happy new year by now, there’s still a fairly significant celebration coming up: lunar new year.

Marked by the patterns of the moon and celebrated on the first new moon between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20, it is an day steeped in tradition throughout Asia and in the places where Asians have migrated to, including the United States where you might be most common with Chinese New Year or Vietnamese New Year, known as Tết.

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Accompanying the lunar new year is a zodiac calendar, known as the shēngxiào, that is made up of 12 cycles, each named for a specific animal. While we are currently closing out the Year of the Monkey, on Jan. 28 the proverbial calendar will turn and we will enter into the Year of the Rooster.

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As has become fashionable in the cigar industry in recent years, no celebration must be without a corresponding cigar and Davidoff has stepped up to cover the lunar new year. The company launched its Zodiac Series of limited editions in late 2012 with the 2013 Year of the Snake, following it up with the Year of the Horse, Year of the Sheep, Year of the Monkey and the most recent release, Year of the Rooster.

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It’s a 6 3/4 x 50 diadema finas vitola that will immediately look familiar to devoted fans of the brand, as it is the same size as the Davidoff Diademas Finas that was released in 2006 as part of the 100th birthday celebration of the company’s late founder, Zino Davidoff. For the blend, the company selected an Ecuadorian habano wrapper to cover a Dominican core made up of a San Vicente mejorado binder and Dominican Republic criollo seco, piloto seco, piloto viso and San Vicente visos in the filler. A total of 80,000 cigars were made, split up into 8,000 boxes of 10 cigars.

A matching set of accessories has also been released, including a double guillotine cutter and a red leather cigar case.

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  • Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Limited Edition 2017 Year of the Rooster
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Dominican Republic (San Vicente Mejorado)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Criollo seco, Piloto seco, Piloto viso and San Vicente viso)
  • Length: 6 3/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Diadema Finas
  • MSRP: $40 (Boxes of 10, $400)
  • Release Date: November 2016
  • Number of Cigars Released: 8,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (80,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The Year of the Rooster is a long and slender perfecto that looks a bit like a slimmed down salomon but of course doesn’t have the bulbous foot. At a surface level it is a good looking cigar with a wrapper both has some veins and shows some of the bumpiness from beneath it. The wrapper has an deep tan to it, almost an earthy brown color to it though it isn’t particularly dark. The roll is clean on all three samples, with visible seams on one sample that show some jagged cuts. Firmness varies a bit; in the fist sample, the third closest to the foot is a bit softer than what’s above it, which is firm without being hard, while the second and third cigars were softer closer to the bands. The small opening at the foot doesn’t allow for much aroma, but a few deep inhales of the wrapper get rewarded with pretzel dough, peanuts and toffee. Despite the small openings on both ends, air moves quite well during the cold draw, with a slightly sweet and doughy flavor.

The Year of the Rooster begins with a surprising hit of pepper in the first puffs, almost as if I burst a pocket of a specific leaf that was rich with oils. It’s a short-lived hit though, as the pepper disappears fairly quickly and the cigar picks up a familiar flavors of wood and mixed nuts. The draw feels like it tightens up just a bit once the burn line progresses above the taper, and while smoke production is a bit low, it’s not concerning. The ash holds on for well over an inch before finally departing as I’m trying to snap a picture of it, while the burn line is crisp and even. Once that first clump is gone, the smoke takes on a slightly softer texture in the mouth, almost cotton-like, while the flavor softens for a brief puff or two as the pepper reloads for both the taste buds and olfactory receptors.

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Much like it started, the Year of the Rooster gets the second third underway with a healthy amount of pepper delivered via a retrohale, though it’s a bit lighter in terms of its gravitas. The  smoke is a bit thinner as well and has a bit of oily texture to it now. There’s citrus zest sharpness on the tongue, more a physical response than a specific taste, and it hardly overshadows the building pepper that the smoke offers. A bit of creaminess can be found just ahead of the midpoint, but it is faint and easily missed, though it does add positively to the profile. Shortly after the bands need to come off, pepper returns at seemingly the perfect moment to redirect the flavor into something fuller and more stimulating than where it had been lingering, though one sample gives me some unwelcome sourness that makes my tongue curl due to its chalky base, something that sticks with the bulk of this section for that one sample. The draw and smoke production hit a spot where neither is quite hitting on all cylinders and I find myself rotating the cigar to hopefully come across a bit better draw. Flavor-wise, the pepper isn’t dominating but still present, and that goes for the retrohale as well. There’s also a bit of chalk coloring the flavor and I’m getting a familiar Dominican tobacco profile with a bit of loamy soil, as well as some mixed nuts.

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The start of the final third brings about a bit of roughness as the flavor takes another slight turn, and it feels as if the blend is overshooting the ideal mark it should be aiming for; where it was a bit too mellow in the first half, it now feels a bit too aggressive. Sour chalk continues to plague the second sample, and there are points in each sample where the flavor gets a bit sour or bitter, depending on the particular puff, and while the flavor might get masked by a beverage, it stands out quite strongly on its own or with water accompanying it. While the flavor doesn’t do too much in the way of evolving, the strength has taken an appreciable step forward in the last two inches and I can suddenly feel its strength in a way I hadn’t previously. The draw and burn line are for the most part good, but combustion struggles at times and necessitates a relight. Flavor dictates how much the cigar gets smoked down more than anything; the first and third samples get taken to an inch or so, while the second is put down with about two inches left.

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Final Notes

  • If you’re not familiar with the zodiac calendar or what year you were born during, you’re a rooster if you were born during 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005 and 2017, though the specific start and end dates vary from year to year; for instance the current Year of the Rooster runs from Jan. 28, 2017 until Feb. 15, 2018. It next comes around in 2029.
  • This year is also a fire rooster year according to ChinaHighlights.com, a combination of the zodiac sign and one of the five elements: gold, wood, water, fire and earth.
  • I’m a horse, if you were wondering. An earth horse, if you were really wondering.
  • Due to FDA regulations, a small number of boxes made their way to retailers prior to Aug. 8.
  • While I don’t have any issues with the packaging, this year’s installment didn’t wow me nearly as much as previous ones, and the layout of the cigars in the box doesn’t lend itself to visual cohesion in my opinion.
  • The box does remind me quite a bit of that used for the La Flor Dominicana Salomon, though this has a much more curved design.
  • The Year of the Horse stands out as my favorite of the series both for the cigar and its packaging.
  • Given the association to lunar new year, the red and gold color scheme should come as no surprise; the former represents good luck in China, and the latter is a symbol of wealth, both things people hope for in the new year.
  • Davidoff of Geneva USA advertises on halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 20 minutes on average.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Corona Cigar Co., JR Cigar, Smoke Inn and Elite Cigar Cafe (972-661-9136) carry the Davidoff Year of the Rooster.
78 Overall Score

The flavors of the Year of the Rooster are enjoyable, but other than the pepper that can be quite tingling on the nose, few stood out and pushed the cigar up to that next level of complexity. Sadly the second cigar was nearly ruined by the pervasive sour note that came out during the second third, and as such the overall score lost several points. But the part that stands out about the Year of the Rooster was that it never quite seemed to hit its mark, or at least a mark that would have better resonated with me. Hopefully time helps smooth over the rough spots and allows the Year of the Rooster to better show off its blend.

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Patrick Lagreid
About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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