One of Davidoff’s yearly limited edition staples for the past six years has been its Zodiac Series. Launching in late 2012, the series started off with the 2013 Chinese zodiac sign, the Year of the Snake. Since then there has been a release every year, featuring that year’s animal in a special blend and size, and packaged in an immaculate red-themed box that looks closer to a humidor than a cigar box.

With the coming year’s sign being the dog, Davidoff’s release for 2018 is the Year of the Dog.

It marks the sixth release in the Zodiac Series.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Limited Edition 2018 Year of the Dog
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Claro
  • Binder: Dominican San Vicente Seco
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto Seco and Viso, San Vicente Ligero) & Nicaragua (Seco and Visos)
  • Length: 7 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Churchill
  • MSRP: $39 (Boxes of 10, $390)
  • Release Date: November 1, 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: 4,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (45,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

As the Zodiac Series cigars tend to be, the Davidoff Year of the Dog is a very impressive looking cigar. The wrapper has a soft, oily feel to it along with a uniform medium brown color. When squeezed two samples produce an even, slight give while a third sample has a couple of softer spots. Coming off the wrapper is a light, mild aroma of mostly grains, light leather and a hint of some hay. On the cold draw I get more mild notes, however it’s a little more complex with hay, vanilla, vegetal notes, a hint of pepper and cinnamon.

Starting into the first third, pepper, spice, a caramel sweetness and some charred bread make up the profile. There do seem to be some more underlying flavors, but the pepper is actually surprisingly strong up front despite the mild cold draw. While the burn has started out quite even, about an inch in the dense ash starts to split a little and a decent chunk falls way before the rest. The draw is within the ideal range, though it certainly has a slight lean towards the tighter side of things. The pepper and spice up front continue to give the profile a kick, while the caramel and bread note settle into the middle. Background notes of hay, cedar and leather are starting to materialize into specific notes, though they are still quite faint.

Moving into the second third of the Year of the Dog the pepper has reduced a bit of its strength, mellowing the profile a bit. The caramel has moved on to something between caramelized sugar and burnt sugar – not in an unpleasant way, but that’s the best way I can describe it. The charred bread from earlier likewise has shifted a bit, with more of a toasted bread now. Continuing in the background but more distinguishable is the hay, cedar and leather notes that round out the profile well. The burn continues its steady and even march down the cigar, leaving in its wake dense ash that appears to be holding together much better now.

In the final third I’m notice a significant reduction in the sweetness, with the sugary note all but relegated to the background. The pepper and spice really haven’t changed their strength much, but with the lack of sweetness in the middle the leather, cedar and hay notes certainly have moved more towards the middle. Toasted bread notes still seem to be there, but like the sugar has seemed to fade more towards a background note as well. After a consistent and impressive burn line for the first two thirds of the Davidoff, I was a little surprised when a section of the cigar needed a little help. As I wind down and reach the final inch of the cigar, the profile continues to perform the same and is smooth and enjoyable to the end.

Final Notes

  • Due to the color and image, the bands look like Clifford the Big Red Dog.
  • While two samples performed identically, the third that had a couple of soft spots did need a couple of touch ups where the other two didn’t. The profile however was the same, so the touch ups didn’t really seem to affect the cigar.
  • Last month Davidoff announced the ACCESS program, which gives consumers a chance to get their hands on re-releases of some of their more popular limited edition cigars. One of the first cigars made available through the program was the 2013 Year of the Snake.
  • This year’s accessories released alongside the cigar are a punch cutter and a travel humidor.
  • While this year’s packaging is still one of the more impressive cigar boxes you’ll see, I still think the 2014 Year of the Horse was my favorite.
  • Davidoff advertises on halfwheel.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time averaged around two hours and 20 minutes.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Corona Cigar Co., Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136), JR Cigar and Smoke Inn carry the Davidoff Year of the Dog.
90 Overall Score

The Davidoff Zodiac Series has always been an impressive release, both in terms of the packaging and for the most part, a fairly enjoyable profile too. The Year of the Dog is one of the better releases from the series, though perhaps not my favorite. Construction was mostly consistent, the only variances were a couple of minor touch ups, which certainly isn’t much of an annoyance. The profile delivered in a way I wasn’t expecting, with a bold strength up front and developed into a flavorful and balanced profile in the last half. As I said, while it may not be my favorite of the series, overall the Year of the Dog has earned its place in the lineup and is certainly worth checking out.

Brian Burt

I have been smoking cigars since 2005 and reviewing them as a hobby since 2010. Initially, I started out small with a 50-count humidor and only smoking one or two cigars a month. Not knowing anybody else that smoked cigars, it was only an occasional hobby that I took part in. In March of 2010, I joined Nublive and Cigar Asylum, connecting me with many people who also shared an interest in cigars. Reading what they had to say about brands I had never heard of, I quickly immersed myself in the boutique brands of the industry and it was then that cigars transformed from a hobby into a passion.