Almost two decades ago, Davidoff accomplished a task that had long alluded Dominican cigar makers: make a cigar entirely of Dominican tobacco. Notably, Davidoff wasn’t the first major company to do so. Arturo Fuente launched Fuente Fuente OpusX in 1995 and it spawned other Dominican puros that would become iconic releases like La Aurora’s 100 Años and La Flor Dominicana’s Litto Gomez Diez Small Batch.

For Davidoff, its first Dominican puro was the Special <<53>> Capa Dominicana. Like other Dominican manufacturers, Davidoff had struggled to create a cigar that was entirely made of Dominican tobacco because the tobacco growers has challenges with making usable Dominican wrapper.

The fact that the blend is all Dominican was not the only unusual aspect about the release: as its name indicates, the cigar was rolled as a perfecto vitola with a 53 ring gauge, which is a rather peculiar size.

Earlier this year, Davidoff announced it was rereleasing the Special <<53>> Capa Dominicana in the same 6 1/8 x 53 perfecto vitola. This included a blend that sought to recreate the original, specifically by incorporating a 10-year-old wrapper covering an eight-year-old San Vicente binder as well as olor seco, piloto ligero and San Vicente seco filler tobaccos aged for up to six-and-a-half years.

“When challenged with crafting a blend of 100 percent Dominican tobaccos back in the 1990s they set on a journey to identify suitable areas, cultivating soils and developing hybrid seeds that would yield tobaccos fit for the challenge,” said Edward Simon, chief marketing officer at Oettinger Davidoff AG, in a press release. “After nearly 20 years that journey found its completion in 2002 when our master blenders had turned these tobaccos into the beautiful and refined Special 53 – Capa Dominicana cigar. It is this achievement, of leading the way to make the cultivation of wrapper tobaccos in the Dominican a reality that we celebrate today with the re-release of this limited edition. The 53-ring gauge Perfecto format was developed especially for said wrapper leaf to deliver its taste impact optimally.”

The cigars are packaged in boxes of 10, with each cigar carrying a retail price of $32 and a total of 139,625 cigars available: 9,700 10-count boxes—with 4,500 boxes of those earmarked fo retailers in the U.S.—as well as 1,825 five-count boxes available exclusively at specific duty-free locations around the world.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Limited Edition Special <<53>> Capa Dominicana (2020)
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic
  • Binder: Dominican Republic (San Vicente)
  • Filler: Dominican Republic (Olor Seco, Piloto Ligero & San Vicente Seco)
  • Length: 6 1/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 53
  • Vitola: Perfecto
  • MSRP: $32 (Box of 10, $320)
  • Release Date: July 1, 2020
  • Number of Cigars Released: 9,700 Boxes of 10 Cigars & 1,825 Boxes of 5 Cigars (139,625 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Visually, the Davidoff Limited Edition Special <<53>> Capa Dominicana is an absolutely gorgeous cigar, covered in a hay brown colored wrapper that is silky smooth to the touch with just a touch of oil present. The cigar is a bit sponger than I expected when squeezed though both the rounded cap and nipple foot seem to be well constructed. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of pungent barnyard, creamy almonds, hay, milk chocolate, earth, cinnamon, tree bark and an indeterminate sweetness, while the cold draw brings flavors of creamy peanuts, oak, hay, coffee beans, mushrooms, white pepper and slight vanilla sweetness.

The first third of the Davidoff Limited Edition Special <<53>> Capa Dominicana features a surprising amount of spice on my tongue, a combination of dominant flavors that includes both oak and creamy almonds, followed by lesser notes of earth, espresso beans, leather, hay and dark chocolate. There is a very distinct vanilla sweetness on the retrohale, where it combines very nicely with a large amount of black pepper that shows no signs of subsiding anytime soon. In terms of construction, both the burn and draw are excellent so far while the smoke production coming from the foot is about average. Strength-wise, the Davidoff starts out fairly mild but shows signs of increasing early and ends up closer to the medium category than mild by the end of the first third.

Interestingly, the vanilla sweetness on the retrohale from the first third takes a sharp right turn during the second third, morphing into a distinct salted caramel flavor. The dominant flavors have also shifted and now remind me strongly of a combination of lemon citrus and hay, while secondary notes of creamy almonds, earth, leather, cocoa nibs, espresso beans, aged oak and slight cinnamon flit in and out in various amounts. The amounts of both the spice on my tongue and black pepper on the retrohale have receded—albeit just a little—but otherwise seem content to hang around for quite a while. Construction-wise, the burn and draw continue to impress, while the smoke production seems to have increased a tiny amount in both density and amount. In terms of strength, the Special <<53>> Capa Dominicana increases enough to hit a point just below medium by the time the second third comes to an end, but stalls out there for the time being. 

Thankfully, the salty caramel sweetness on the retrohale increases noticeably during the final third of the Davidoff, which only helps the complexity of the overall profile that is still dominated by a combination of lemon rind and hay. Additional notes of creamy leather, milk chocolate, oak, gritty earth, espresso beans, cinnamon and cocoa nibs are also present in various amounts, while the finish has picked up a slight but distinct floral quality. While the draw remains top-notch, the burn has begun to waver, eventually getting bad enough that I have to correct it to get it back on track, albeit just once. Finally, the overall strength passes into the medium range but never threatens to go any further before I put the nub down with a little more than an inch remaining.

Final Notes

  • While the flavor profile for the vast majority of the three cigars I smoked for this review was extremely enjoyable, there was a noticeable metallic note on the finish at certain points that hurt the overall balance during the times that it was present. It was never close to overwhelming—or the overall score would not be even close to as high as it is—and it only became what I consider a significant issue during the first third of the final cigar I smoked. Thankfully, the metallic note did not stay aggressive for long, and it had dissipated to more of a background note by the time the second third of that cigar rolled around.
  • The Davidoff website lists this cigar as being a 55-minute cigar, which I find laughable unless the person who wrote it was cutting the perfecto in half and smoking the second section at a later date.
  • These boxes are branded with the Davidoff Vintage Blend logo on the top right of the lid, which indicates that it is one of Davidoff’s efforts to recreate a blend the company had previously released.
  • Davidoff seems content to try to rerelease just about every limited edition release from its archive. Up next is the Robusto Intenso, a cigar that was originally released in 2005.
  • Attendees of Procigar 2020—aka the Dominican Republic’s official cigar festival—were given samples of the Limited Edition Special <<53>> Capa Dominicana back in February. Davidoff had intended for the cigar to debut earlier in the year but the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic forced a delay of its new products.
  • Our cigars were taken from box number 5,419/9,700.
  • Davidoff of Geneva USA advertises on halfwheel. Davidoff sent some samples but they were not used for the review.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time averaged one hour and 47 minutes for all three samples.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Davidoff Limited Edition Special <<53>> Capa Dominicana (2020), site sponsors Corona Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar and STOGIES World Class Cigars all have them in stock.
90 Overall Score

While I never smoked the original incarnation, I can tell you that new version is a flavor bomb with a nuanced profile that switches from third to third seamlessly, excellent construction as well as plenty of salt, spice and pepper throughout to keep things interesting. Having said that, there are times when the profile had some issues, specifically with a bit of a metallic note on the finish that affected the balance and the fact that were times the flavors seemed a bit less distinct. In my samples, both issues were most prevalent in the first third, but other than the last cigar I smoked, those times were few and far between. While the persistent amount of spice in the profile might be a bit surprising considering the age of the tobacco the cigar is blended with, after smoking three of them I was not exactly shocked when the new Special <<53>> turned out to be one of the best cigars I have smoked this year.

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.