You have inevitably seen the ads: 99-point rating from halfwheel.
It’s true, we’ve actually given out 99 ratings. Three cigars have earned that distinction, the most recent of which was a cigar called the Davidoff Especiales <<7>> Robusto Real, a 2004 limited edition Davidoff that I reviewed in early 2016.
Given the FDA-induced trend of what’s old is new again, it was of no surprise when I found out that Davidoff would be bringing back the cigar. The original cigar was a 5 1/2 x 48 robusto blended with seven different leaves, hence the name, but also a rarity for Davidoff who typically wouldn’t put more than four filler leaves. It used the Ecuadorian hybrid wrapper from the Millenium Blend, a Dominican olor binder and five different Dominican fillers, one of which was from 1996.
Earlier this year, the cigar returned to the market with Davidoff saying that once again the wrapper is from Ecuador, and a Dominican olor binder binds five Dominican fillers:
- Olor Seco
- Piloto Seco
- Piloto Viso
- San Vicente Ligero
- San Vicente Viso
Pricing is set at $28.50 per cigar—nearly double the original 2004 version—and it is limited to 4,000 boxes of 10 cigars in the U.S.
- Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Robusto Real Especiales <<7>> Limited Edition 2019
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Cigars Davidoff
- Wrapper: Ecuador
- Binder: Dominican Republic (Olor)
- Filler: Dominican Republic (Olor Seco, Piloto Seco, Piloto Viso, San Vicente Ligero & San Vicente Viso)
- Length: 5 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $28.50 (Box of 10, $285)
- Release Date: April 2019
- Number of Cigars Released: 4,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (40,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The cigar is relatively dark for a Davidoff and rather muted in terms of oils. I don’t think this is unique to this release, but the caps aren’t applied with the same sort of precision one would expect from the triple caps on high-dollar Nicaraguan and Cuban cigars. Aroma off the wrapper is medium-plus with some acidity, chocolate and a bit of sesame seed. From the foot, there are distinct signs of olor along with chocolate, pistachio and some chocolate milkshake, nearly full. The cold draw is medium-full with apple cider, some chemical flavors and peanut butter, right around medium-plus. After a first few puffs, there’s a pleasant floral flavor that comes through.
Lots of creaminess hits various parts of the palate upon my first puffs of the Davidoff Robusto Real Especiales <<7>> Limited Edition 2019. The creamy sensations are joined by meatiness and a touch of the classic Davidoff olor flavors. The finish is medium-plus with bread and some leather. An inch in and the core of the Davidoff turns into oatmeal with nuttiness, white pepper and some saltiness. Retrohales produce pizza dough, fruitiness, earthiness and some chewiness. The flavor is medium-full, while body and strength are medium-plus. I find myself paying a bit more attention to the burn—smoking a bit quicker than I’d like to—but I don’t need to use my lighter, yet.
The second third of the Real Especiales <<7>> is chewier than the first third. There’s also an added earthiness and an increased amount of olor flavors, the musty and mushroom-like flavor that are found in some Davidoff blends. I also detect a lot more rock salt, which isn’t a common flavor in the large library flavors I find in Davidoffs. The retrohales are also interesting: mustard, bubble gum and some Pringles potato chips, which almost seems like a sweeter version of the olor flavor. Speaking of sweetness, it’s pretty sugar-heavy on the finish, though the mustard sticks around for a bit. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus. One sample has great construction, while the other two need touch-ups.
Without question, the final third is my favorite of the trio in terms of flavor. There’s a lot more citrus to the profile, though the saltiness increases as well. Through the nose, there’s some creaminess, paprika, lemon zest and bread. The finish has a lot of the bread flavors alternating between a generic flavor and something that is more akin to a whole grain loaf. It’s dry, though I don’t mind it given the brighter flavors up front. Flavor, body and strength all finish medium-full, a notable uptick from the latter. Like the second third, one sample avoids a touch-up, while the other two need assistance from the lighter to make it to the end of the cigar.
- About that 99 rating, I smoked a cigar that was released in 2004. At the time, it was nearing 11-years-old and some of the tobacco was from 1996. Even if the blend is the same as it is now—which I don’t think it is—the idea that these two cigars would perform similarly is something that would defy science.
- While I understand it, I’m not particularly thrilled that Davidoff took to promote that this particular cigar was rated 99 points because it wasn’t. I can understand why it’s okay to argue that non-vintage products—just like in the wine or spirits world—that are rated can continue to use that rating going forward for future production of that product. But promoting the 2019 version of this cigar with a 99 that came out over three years before this particular cigar was released is not great, largely because this is a vintage version. There is a 2004 version and a 2019 version and if you tried to argue that a 2019 version of Château Margaux should be promoted with the rating that a 2004 version achieved, let alone that happened 11 years after the wine was released, you would be laughed out of a room.
- If anyone has any of the originals, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts about the cigar at the moment. There’s not a ton of reviews of it.
- I still have some of them, so at some point there might be a redux.
- One last bit about the old cigar. The cigars that we review for holy grail week—an annual tradition the first week of the year—have an unfair advantage in that we generally only smoke one of those samples versus the very consistent three samples per review for everything else. There’s a number of reasons why we do that, but given that those cigars won’t be eligible for the top 25, I don’t mind it. But because we only review one sample, I think it’s much easier to get a score like a 99. Having one sample be exemplary is a lot easier than all three of them.
- For those wondering if our score had something to do with the cigar coming back, the answer is yes. Davidoff’s Limited Edition series prior to the Chinese Zodiac one you see today had 17 different releases. So far only three of them to my knowledge have returned and all but one of those has been part of the much more limited Vault Series. This isn’t the first time this has happened, the VegaFina Robusto Extra Pigtail Añejado 7 Años was brought to the U.S. market shortly after receiving a 92 from this site.
- This wasn’t the greatest of names when it was released and it’s so long and confusing even Davidoff can’t keep the terminology straight in its own press releases.
- Two of the three cigars smoked for this review showed signs that they could be underfilled. The draw was loose on one cigar, another one was notably light and had some burn issues. I smoked another cigar from a different box that was absolutely underfilled. It’s not a typical Davidoff problem, but given my experiences, I’m led to believe this could be an issue here.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel. Davidoff sent me one or two samples prior to the review, but the box above is the one where the cigars came from and we purchased that.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 40 minutes.
- Site sponsors Corona Cigar Co. and JR Cigar have the Davidoff Robusto Real Especiales <<7>> Limited Edition 2019 in stock, while Atlantic Cigar Co. is currently sold out.
For better and worse, this cigar will be judged based on how it compares to the 2004 version. And if that's the case, the game isn't fair. As the rating of the 2004 version implies, that was one of the best cigars I’ve ever smoked, particularly in the second and final thirds. And very few of the pieces of dried tobacco that exist on this planet as cigars could live up to it. It's unfortunate because the Especiales <<7>> Limited Edition 2019 is a pretty good cigar. Like the original, there's flavor with a surprising amount of body. And just like the original, the cigar gets better as it smokes. However, I have a feeling that it will be remembered more for what it is not versus what it is.