There are some lines that have come onto the market over the last few years and have become a very surprising smashing success. Leaf by Oscar. Asylum 13. Davidoff Winston Churchill.
I still remember being at the relaunch of the Winston Churchill line. Sure, the cigar was good, but I didn’t think it was that much better than Davidoff Nicaragua and I didn’t see it managing to dramatically outpace Davidoff’s new black-banded line. I certainly didn’t see a scenario where Winston Churchill would rise without cannibalizing Davidoff Nicaragua.
Yet, that’s what happened.
Six months after its debut, the company claimed that Winston Churchill was the most successful launch in its history, something that didn’t seem too challenging to believe given what I saw in stores.
The other line Davidoff apparently didn’t see the demand coming for was Camacho American Barrel-Aged. It was expected to do well, but clearly the company didn’t anticipate just how well, otherwise the cigar likely wouldn’t have been backordered for multiple months after its debut.
This year, Davidoff decided to bring barrel aging to the Winston Churchill line, combining these two popular lines in a way, into a new cigar called Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour.
Like American Barrel-Aged, which uses Honduran corojo aged in bourbon barrels, Late Hour uses a viso from Condega, Nicaragua that was aged for six months in Speyside scotch barrels. Around that Nicaraguan leaf are three Dominican tobaccos—olor viso, piloto seco and San Vicente mejorado viso—and a viso from Estelí, Nicaragua. On top of that is a Mexican San Andrés negro binder and an Ecuadorian habano marron oscuro wrapper.
- Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Robusto (5 x 52) — $17.50 (Boxes of 20, $350)
- Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Toro (6 x 54) — $19.10 (Boxes of 20, $382)
- Davidoff Winston Churchill Late Hour Churchill (7 x 48) — $20.10 (Boxes of 20, $402)
- Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour Robusto
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Cigars Davidoff
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Oscuro Marron
- Binder: Mexican San Andrés Negro
- Filler: Dominican Republic (Olor, Piloto, San Vicente) & Nicaragua (Condega, Estelí)
- Length: 5 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Robusto
- MSRP: $17.50 (Boxes of 20, $350)
- Release Date: Aug. 2, 2017
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
It’s more than a few shades darker than the current Winston Churchill line—and even darker than my recollection of the original line—with a bit more oils. I think the company did an outstanding job with the bands as they work well against the dark wrapper. The wrapper smells a bit like mud with leather, oak, and some dandelions. The foot is sweet with floral, bubble gum, a powdered milkshake-like chocolate, oak, and some white pepper. Two samples show that artificial chocolate milkshake on top of some soy sauce saltiness and a medium black pepper. One sample tastes like it was soaked in grape cough syrup, which was not particularly pleasant, though it didn’t show any signs of that flavor by smelling it.
While the flavor is a mild mixture of woodiness, sour oranges, and creaminess, on one sample there’s black pepper and cinnamon all around my lips. Eventually, all three cigars get to the same place: a full-flavored mixture with Ritz crackers, soy sauce, and an array of woods in the mouth. Through the nose, there’s a huge floral aroma and some acidic ketchup. I pick up lime on two samples towards the end. Flavor is full, body is full, and strength is medium-full. While construction is pretty impressive, one sample tunnels as soon as I knock off the more than inch of ash and requires a touch-up.
The second third of the Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour Robusto sees the complexity ramp up with the first signs of barrel notes, an increased floral presence, and touches of raspberries. It’s easy to dismiss the flavors as “woody with some sweetness,” but the layering of the sensations is really where it shines. It’s got an oaky and woody mixture underneath the somewhat raw floral flavors and then some Cap’n Crunch-like grainy sweetness. At the midway point I’m able to begin picking up a whiskey flavor, though it tastes more like a corn-heavy bourbon1. I also pick up some acute smokiness that reminds me of Liquid Smoke, quite different from the typical toasty flavor I find in cigars. Strength ramps up to full right at the halfway mark, while the rest of the cigar remains full. Construction remains excellent, even with long breaks in between puffs.
That liquid smoke flavor wanes as the final third gets going. It morphs into more of an elementary toastiness and is soon overshadowed by a growing peanut flavor. The floral flavors remain, but they’ve shifted into more of the floral flavors I pick up in Cuban cigars rather than just flowers themselves, albeit, without the vibrancy of the Cuban variety. The profile gets dry for the first half of the final third, reminding me of peanut shells, though that seems to depart below an inch. Instead, it’s a woody mixture with a homemade potato chip flavor and some black pepper, really the first time I’ve detected any pepper except for the weird sensation on my lips in one cigar.
- To be compliant with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Aug. 8, 2016 deadline for new product, Davidoff shipped a ton of new product to its retail flagships. Interestingly, this cigar shipped as Winston Churchill Cask Aged.
- There’s an alternate packaging version of the cigar where the secondary band is larger and has the vitola name on it, though the picture of it has been removed from Instagram, so you’ll have to take my word for it.
- If I know I’m going to be reviewing a certain cigar, I try to avoid smoking it or other vitolas in the line prior to smoking the ones for a review. That being said I smoked the Toro back in June—and I think the 6 x 54 vitola is much better. It’s certainly not as strong, but it’s much easier to get the complexities out compared to the Robusto.
- Speyside is home to more distilleries than any other region in Scotland, including Balvenie, The Glenlivet and Glenfiddich.
- For whatever it’s worth, I’m more of an Islay fan.
- Davidoff’s prices have once again become a full notch above where the vast majority of rest of the industry is. That being said, this does go head-to-head with the upper tier Padrón lines, which is the very logical competitor to The Late Hour.
- With the exception of one touch-up in the first third of one cigar, construction was flawless throughout. The draw was a tad bit open for my liking, which seems to translate to the sweetspot for most people.
- This cigar requires an unnatural slowing in smoking pace. It’s pleasant enough when smoking at a normal place, but to get the complexities, I find the cigar needs to sit for nearly two minutes in between puffs.
- I cannot think of a Davidoff that has been stronger when it comes to nicotine. It starts innocently enough around medium, getting up to medium-full around the end of the first. But by the second third, it’s full and there’s no letting up.
- This cigar also makes me reflect about just how much stronger cigars have gotten over the years. To my palate, if Davidoff had put this cigar out six or seven years ago, it would have been one of the strongest three or four cigars on the market and somewhat surprising given it is a Davidoff. Today, it’s certainly in the upper tier, but not as mind-bogglingly strong as it would have been.
- Davidoff of Geneva USA advertises on halfwheel.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel. Davidoff of Geneva USA did send some cigars, although they were only used for the vitola shot above.
- Final smoking time ranged from one and a half hours to two hours and 10 minutes. I’d highly recommend trying to shoot for the latter.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Corona Cigar Co., Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136), JR Cigar and Smoke Inn all carry the Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour Robusto.
We don’t have a category for how difficult a cigar is to smoke on the scoresheet, but if we did, this wouldn’t score well. The Davidoff Winston Churchill The Late Hour Robusto is a decent cigar, but if you aren’t willing to adjust how you smoke, i.e. slow as possible, it’s not the excellent cigar as the score reflects. That being said, The Late Hour is very good; the best regular production Davidoff of recent memory. I think this is ultimately the cigar people were hoping the Davidoff Nicaragua would be: a stronger version of the complex and well-made cigars for which Davidoff is known.