In 2011, Davidoff quietly released what—as far as I know—was a regional edition for the Asian market, or maybe just a few shops in Asia. It was called the Davidoff Cuvée Selection 2012 Year of the Dragon, and it turned out to be the first in what has become an annual tradition for the Swiss company and now a variety of others.

Its name comes from the Chinese zodiac calendar, which some of you might remember from the paper placemats at your local Americanized Chinese restaurant. It is a 12-year cycle, with each year associated with an animal. The upcoming lunar year—which will begin on Jan. 23, 2021—is the year of the ox.

As such, Davidoff and a host of others have created new cigars, most of which are released around the world. With little exception, all of them use a variety of other Chinese symbolism: notably red and gold colors, and the number eight. In Chinese culture, red symbolizes good fortune and joy; while yellow or gold symbolizes wealth. Eight is considered to be a lucky number.

Previous Davidoff zodiac releases have been offered in eight-count boxes, though Davidoff abandoned that custom starting with the 2016 release.

The Davidoff Limited Edition 2021 Year of the Ox is a 6 x 60 gordo that uses a Dominican wrapper over an Ecuadorian Sumatran binder and five different fillers:

  • Dominican Republic Piloto Viso
  • Dominican Republic San Vicente Mejorado Viso
  • Dominican Republic Yamasá Viso
  • Nicaragua Condega Viso
  • Nicaragua Estelí Viso

It is priced at $40 and limited to 13,500 boxes of 10 cigars. As the company has previously done, there are also limited edition accessories—a cutter, lighter and ashtray—as well as pipe tobacco, all branded under the Year of the Ox name.

This is the 10th release of the series, meaning there are only two more—Tiger and Rabbit—before Davidoff completes the full calendar. The Year of the Snake release was the first one Davidoff released worldwide and set off a much different look and approach for the series going forward.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Limited Edition 2021 Year of the Ox
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic
  • Binder: Ecuador (Sumatra)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Piloto, San Vicente Mejorado & Yamasá) & Nicaragua (Condega & Estelí)
  • Length: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 60
  • Vitola: Gordo
  • MSRP: $40 (Box of 10, $400)
  • Release Date: November 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: 13,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (135,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

My first thought is that I really wish this cigar wasn’t this big. I know that it’s going to be a long afternoon, and this is the first of three cigars I will smoke for the review. As is often the case with cigars of this size, the wrapper isn’t as flawless as a normal Davidoff robusto. There are some veins and wrapper stretching, the latter of which is a bit odd for a Davidoff. The aroma from the wrapper is a medium-plus mixture of barnyard, birdseed, and a salty broth flavor. The foot is medium-full with a sweeter profile that includes raisins, root beer, caramel and minor amounts of barnyard. There’s an even sweeter cold draw with notes of cherry cola, peanuts, syrup and a generic fruitiness.

The Davidoff Year of the Ox begins with a medium-full mixture of earthiness, sweetness, burnt caramel, molasses and touches of cinnamon. It’s a rather interesting group of flavors that could be more vibrant but make for a unique contrast. With an inch of the cigar gone, the flavor has shifted to toasted bread over nuts, fruit and butter. It finishes with a very refined and detailed cedar joined by earthiness and a bit of sharpness, though no real pepper. Retrohaling shows a bit of the classic Davidoff mustiness that I associate with olor tobacco. There are also flavors of dry pasta noodles, orange zest and leather. After retrohaling, the finish has damp earthiness, cedar and a touch of irritation on the back of the throat. I can’t stress enough how while there’s some burn on the palate, there’s no real signs of pepper. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium. Construction is great, with copious amounts of smoke production and solid chunks of ash.

Roasted flavors dominate a detailed rum flavor at the front end of the Davidoff Limited Edition 2021 Year of the Ox. Behind that combination is a bit of acidity and some floral flavors. At times, one cigar seems a bit metallic but it doesn’t stick around for that long and isn’t really present on the other cigars. Retrohales have nuttiness, olor and crisply flavors. It leaves behind a great finish of cherry cola, leather, peanut shells, creaminess and pepper. To this point, the finish on the retrohale is probably my favorite part of the Davidoff. While there are a lot of flavors and the overall profile is full, I do think the profile is a bit muted. Body is medium-full and strength is mild-medium. Construction remains great with nothing of concern at this point.

The profile gets crispier in the final third. Nuttiness—which was never in the main mouth flavor—finally makes its way up front. It seemed like this was a long time coming given its presence in the finish and the retrohale. Also moving out of the retrohale is the musty olor flavor. Fortunately, it’s pretty mild and more of an accent note, so even those who shy away from the flavor will probably be okay with things. The finish reminds me of a pork ramen broth flavor over creaminess, poppy seed, mustard, some spices and dryness on the back of the throats. Retrohales have grains, white rice and a bit of sugar. The finish has an incredibly vibrant nutty flavor, redwoods and creaminess. Flavor is full, body is medium-plus and strength is medium. Construction is fantastic until the end.

Final Notes

  • While this isn’t the most elaborate of Davidoff Zodiac limited edition boxes, it’s still one of the best boxes of the year. There’s a ton of detail work that goes into the packaging, including this note card.

  • I cannot tell you what this pattern on the lighter and cutter has to do with an ox, though it’s similar to the detail work found on the box.

  • Here’s that detail, which you might not otherwise notice from a picture shot straight on.
  • I get that the market might want large ring gauge cigars and it’s easier to charge these price points for larger cigars, but I’d appreciate a more normal-sized cigar at some point in this series.
  • One upside to this size is that the construction is great with no issues on any of the cigars start to finish.
  • Assuming Davidoff chooses not to repeat any previously used sizes, I’d guess we will see a 6 x 54 or 6 x 56 torpedo as one of the last two releases.
  • There were more pieces of tobacco both falling out of the bottom of the cigar and coming out of the head after cutting than I get in most other cigars.
  • On two cigars I thought the first third was my least favorite of the bunch, on the other cigar the final third was my least favorite. Even at its worst point, it’s still better than most cigars I review. The three samples were also remarkably consistent.
  • For those concerned about the musty Davidoff flavor—some people describe it as tasting like mushrooms—this has a very limited amount of it. The flavor was also almost exclusively found on the retrohale.
  • Davidoff of Geneva USA advertises on halfwheel.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 35 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Corona Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop and STOGIES World Class Cigars have the Davidoff Limited Edition 2021 Year of the Ox.
92 Overall Score

While I don’t have the knowledge or experience of a wine expert, it seems like this would be a cigar example of a wine that is fine to drink now but probably won’t be ready to fully enjoy for quite some time. It lacks the grace that many Davidoffs have, but it’s not a bull—err, ox—in a China shop. It’s a cigar that tastes more powerful than it is with many layers of complex notes, many of which don’t seem ready to fully show themselves. I imagine that with time different flavors will show themselves more fully, probably varying a lot in how it smokes six months from now, a year from now and five years from now. As it stands today, it’s as complex as just about any cigar, but it’s one that is going to require much more attention to the details than most. And for that, I think you should smoke one now and put the box away to appreciate it more at a later date. 

Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.