In 2011, Davidoff quietly introduced the first cigar in what has become one of the company’s most popular annual releases: the Zodiac Series. As the moniker alludes to, each of the cigars are named after one of the animal signs on the Chinese Zodiac calendar, which has a 12-year cycle.

As far as we have been able to find out, while the first release in the series—the Davidoff Cuvée Selection 2012 Year of the Dragon—was most likely a regional edition exclusively for the Asian market. It was a noticeably different cigar compared to the 10 releases that followed. First, it was only sold in Asian countries and not the rest of the world. Secondly, it lacked the ornate packaging that has defined the series over the last decade. The vast majority of the cigars have also incorporated the same red and gold colors for their packaging—in Chinese culture, the color red symbolizes good fortune while the color gold symbolizes wealth—and many have been sold in eight-count boxes, a reference to the number eight which is thought to be a lucky number.

In October, Davidoff announced the Year of the Tiger, the 11th cigar in the series, a 5 x 52 piramides that is shortest release so far. It also happens to be the first cigar in the series to use an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper which Davidoff says was “treated naturally to bring to life the fur markings of the Tiger on the finished cigar visually,” i.e., the company tried to give the wrapper an appearance that mimics the stripes of a tiger in order to match the name of the cigar.

Davidoff details the natural process that is involved in creating the unique look of the wrapper in post on its Instagram account:

We select a Connecticut wrapper bright in colour and smooth in structure. We then cautiously place significantly darker, wetted tobacco veins crosswise on the bright wrapper lead. Leaves and veins put together create an impressive colour contrast. The leaves then need pressing for 48 hours. After a couple of days, we carefully remove the tobacco veins from the leaves.

Internally, the blend includes a Dominican hybrid 257 seco binder as well as a combination of five Dominican filler tobaccos: hybrid 254 viso, hybrid 259 seco, piloto ligero, San Vicente mejorado seco and San Vicente mejorado viso.

The Year of the Tiger has an MSRP of $42 per cigar and is limited to 17,350 boxes of 10 cigars which feature the depiction of a tiger in gold as well as a number of wood cutouts that are meant to simulate the animal stalking prey through trees. As has been the case for previous releases, there are also limited edition accessories, including an ashtray, cigar case and a Davidoff Masterpiece humidor, the latter of which was designed by Rose Saneuil—who has worked with Davidoff on a number of high-end humidors—and Chinese artist Qi Xie. The humidor carries an MSRP of $35,000 and is limited to 24 pieces, and each one includes 88 Year of the Tiger Toro cigars, a different vitola than the standard release.

There have been 11 different releases in the Zodiac Series so far, meaning only the Year of the Rabbit remains until the first cycle around the calendar is complete.

*Not pictured.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Limited Edition 2022 Year of the Tiger
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Connecticut)
  • Binder: Dominican Republic (Hybrid 257)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Hybrid 254 Viso, Hybrid 259 Seco, Piloto Ligero, San Vicente Mejorado Seco & San Vicente Mejorado Viso)
  • Length: 5 inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Piramides
  • MSRP: $42 (Box of 10, $420)
  • Release Date: November 2021
  • Number of Cigars Released: 17,350 Boxes of 10 Cigars (173,500 Total Cigars) 
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

The first time I picked up a Davidoff Year of the Tiger, my initial thought was simply, “I have never seen anything quite like this before.” The combination of a lighter base wrapper and the darker vein stripes—which are very obviously pressed into the main wrapper, as there is no protrusion at all—makes for a stunning visual contrast. In addition, while there is no obvious sign of oil, the wrapper is smooth as silk to the touch and the cigar has a very nice amount of give when squeezed. Aromas from the wrapper include notes of leather, earth, generic nuts and cedar, while the foot brings aromas of strong barnyard, wood, hay, cinnamon and orange peel. After a v-cut, the cold draw features flavors of orange peel, aromatic cedar, peanut shells, creamy hay, cocoa nibs and slight vegetal note along with some honey sweetness.

Immediately after toasting the foot, the Year of the Tiger begins with a strong—but not overtly bitter—espresso flavor which quickly changes into the main flavor combination of citrus peel and pine nuts. Secondary notes of hay, leather, gritty earth, cedar, toasted bread, cinnamon and a touch of mushroom flit in and out at various points, while the retrohale features both mint and milk chocolate sweetness. There is also a nice amount of both spice and white pepper, although the former begins to recede almost immediately. Construction-wise, the draw is excellent after a v-cut and the burn is razor-sharp on two out of three samples, while there is an average amount of smoke pouring from the foot. Flavor is just over medium but rising, body is just under medium and seems content to stay around that level, while the strength ends up between mild and medium by the time the first third ends.

The main flavors change in a major way during the second third of the Davidoff, from citrus peel and pine nuts to a combination of a floral note and dark chocolate. Additional flavors of citrus peel, peanut shells, toasted bread, espresso beans, creamy leather, cinnamon, hay and earth follow closely behind, while the spice on my tongue from the first third is not even close to as strong. In addition, while there is still plenty of white pepper on the retrohale, the milk chocolate sweetness is now more of a honey note. In terms of construction, the burn and the draw continue to give me no issues while the smoke production remains average. Flavor is easily at medium-full, body is right at a solid medium and the strength has increased slightly to hit a point just under medium.

More changes are in store for the profile of the Year of the Tiger during the final third—albeit not as significant at the previous third—starting with the top flavors, which not includes both roasted espresso beans and cedar. The secondary notes also includes jalapeño peppers (without the bite), sourdough bread, gritty earth, hay, creamy peanuts and leather tack, while the white pepper and honey sweetness on the retrohale are both still going strong. The draw and the burn continue to impress, with neither giving me any issues whatsoever, and the smoke production a bit higher than in the previous two thirds. Finally, flavor ends just under full, while both body and strength end at solid medium as I put the nub down with a bit less than an inch remaining.

Final Notes

  • Despite what this video says, the global premiere of the Year of the Tiger was during an event halfwheel helped host in mid-November at Tei-An in Dallas.
  • While talking with Goldberg during the event, I asked him if there were any samples of the Year of the Tiger made without the signature pressed veins, and he informed me that was extremely unlikely.
  • Although I found that the profile does get almost shockingly metallic if I puffed on it too often or too hard, that note quickly returns to its former self when you slow down again, and it is virtually non-existent if you keep a slow and even pace. There is very little of the musky mushroom flavor that I taste in some of Davidoff’s blends.
  • The process of how the wrapper is made is fascinating to me, and it is hard to describe how unique the overall look of the cigar is unless you can see it in person or in a photograph.
  • As was the case with last year’s release, Davidoff has created a limited edition Year of the Tiger pipe tobacco which features “an exclusive mixture of Latakia, Burley and Virginia tobaccos from China, India, Malawi and Cyprus.”
  • While I am sure that some people will complain about the price of the cigar due to the high cost of such a small vitola, I honestly love that Davidoff is branching out with what they are offering in this series, both in terms of size and blend.
  • Somehow, this is the first Zodiac Series cigar I have reviewed since the Year of the Monkey way back in 2015.
  • The box our review cigars were taken from was numbered 11,241/17,300.
  • Overall construction was excellent, with a perfect amount of resistance on the draw after a v-cut and a burn that only needed to be touched up twice on two separate samples.
  • Davidoff of Geneva USA advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time averaged a quick one hour and 12 minutes for all three samples, although I was definitely taking my time.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Davidoff Year of the Tiger, site sponsors Famous Smoke Shop and JR Cigar have them in stock.
92 Overall Score

In a series full of very good cigars, the Davidoff Year of the Tiger is unique in just about every way that counts: it is visually stunning, impeccably constructed and extremely well-blended. Make no mistake, this is neither one of the most affordable, nor the longest burning, nor the easiest to find cigars to be released this year, but it is one of the uniquely packaged, most complex and best tasting cigars I have smoked in a long, long time. It is also easily one of the best cigars released this year, bar none.

Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.