Last year, Davidoff released the Master Selection Series, a collection of six cigars based on the cigars Eladio Diaz makes to celebrate his birthday.
Diaz is Davidoff’s master blender and quality control chief, and someone who has gotten an increasingly prominent role in Davidoff’s marketing with the aforementioned Master Selection Series and the Oro Blanco, the company’s flagship $500 release. While Diaz might be the blender for Davidoff, his birthday cigars have repeatedly been described to me as not very much like Davidoff’s typical releases. Notably, they are described as much stronger than a typical Davidoff, a comparison that is probably less and less the case as the company’s production cigars get stronger and stronger.
Over time, I’ve been able to identify blends that are more Eladio-like, cigars like the Oro Blanco and the Year of the Sheep, cigars that retained the Davidoff complexity and balance but with richer and bolder flavors, as well as a lot more nicotine.
As for Diaz’s birthday cigars, he hands them out personally to friends and acquaintances. Up until this past year, I’ve never known one to be banded and from what I gather, there are very few of them made. I’ve been given two of them over the years, this being the first, and I once lost a Procigar auction for 40 of the cigars from various years to Daniel Nuñez, the former production chief at General Cigar Co.
- Cigar Reviewed: Eladio Diaz 62
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Cigars Davidoff
- Wrapper: n/a
- Binder: n/a
- Filler: n/a
- Length: 6 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Belicoso
- Est. Price: $100
- Release Date: 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 1
It’s a well-rolled torpedo that could easily pass as a Davidoff. Aroma off the wrapper is plentiful: leather, sweet cranberries, some candied plums and a slight barnyard touch. The foot is strong with cranberry juice, Cap’n Crunch cereal, jalapeño pepper and some saltiness. It’s quite similar on the cold draw—sweet, peppery, salty and full: cranberry, passionfruit, wood, meatiness and a sharp pepper at the center of the tongue.
The Eladio Diaz 62 starts with a lot of pink salt on the outside of the tongue and is incredibly rich. There’s a ton of black pepper on the tongue, some faint woodiness, but no real sweetness despite the cold draw. The woodiness picks up in the first inch and begins to soften the blow of the pepper, though the saltiness remains extremely sharp and makes me wish I had some apple juice to cut through it. There’s some sugar, barnyard, cedar, hay and cinnamon while the retrohales are a weird mixture of floral flavors, barnyard, charcoal and some parsley. It’s full in flavor, full in body and medium-plus in strength. Construction is incredible with well over two inches of ash, plenty of smoke and a fantastic draw.
Things smooth out a lot thanks to an increased woody flavor and a retreating saltiness. Right before the midway point it reminds me of Herman Marshall Temptress Single Malt, a whiskey that was aged in barrels that previously held a milk stout. It’s a weird oak, creaminess, vanilla and chocolate mixture. The retrohales have the toastiness, but are joined by pasta, lemon zest, green coffee beans and peanuts. Where the cigar really shines is the finish: rich toastiness, burnt coffee, earth, peanut shells, meatiness and a restrained jalapeño sensation. The flavors have suddenly become incredibly vibrant and increasingly more interesting as the cigar develops. Thanks to an increase in strength, the cigar is now full in every category. Construction remains fantastic.
The saltiness returns to the Eladio Diaz birthday cigar, but it’s much more balanced compared to the first third. Cedar is the dominant flavor, slightly beating out the aforementioned saltiness, while the retrohale is creamier along with some leather. Once again, the finish is the star with burnt brisket, leather and a spice mixture all being much richer than the initial flavors, though it’s worth pointing out that those were full. Speaking of full, the strength and body don’t let up either, and the cigar finishes quite different than your typical Anniversario No.2.
- For many years, Eladio Diaz was neither someone who wanted the spotlight, nor someone who Davidoff pushed into it. That has changed recently, but he’s still not the public figure like Henke Kelner. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to believe that even 1 percent of the readers of this post could identify Diaz and his signature glasses in a crowd.
- If you judge someone based off the opinions of their peers, Diaz is one of the best. Amongst the people who are making cigars in the Dominican Republic, particularly those that have run or run factories, Eladio seems to be placed on a different level.
- I will also fully admit he’s one of my favorite people to watch work. He is meticulous. I got to watch him recheck the work of supervisors who had already looked over cigars. Diaz would open the bundles up, lay the cigars on the table, resort and pull out the defective ones at a speed that is memorizing.
- This particular cigar was given to me by a Davidoff employee who graciously regifted it after receiving it from Diaz earlier that night. I was given it in July 2015, smoked the cigar in March 2016 and have had this review sitting since then because I needed to confirm that this was in fact one of the birthday cigars.
- Diaz has given me cigars before and it’s unlike how anyone else will give you a cigar. He has a ritual where he will present the cigars to the recipient similar to how Japanese people exchange business cards. He presents the cigars in his palms and bows at you with the cigars in his hand.
- You can see an example of the band for the birthday cigar for 2017 here.
- I have smoked all six of the Master Selection Series. They are very good cigars, but not like this. The richness of this cigar was on a different level, the complexity was better and the balance was more advanced.
- I’m not sure what to compare this to if anything, but my initial reaction would be the Oro Blanco. They are two very different cigars with this being richer, but the Oro Blanco being more finessed. While I write this sentence I don’t know what the score is, but I’d probably smoke the Oro Blanco over this. That was a mind-blowing experience, a cigar really unlike anything else I’ve ever smoked. This was an example of everything I hope for in a cigar. Regardless, they are two of the best 10 or 15 cigars I’ve ever smoked in my life.
- On those two bullet points, this is a cigar that had a lot of power, but also complexity and it was blended in a manner that really borders on what I expect from a meal, not some burning dried leaves. There aren’t many cigars I’ve had that can be this rich and yet complex and most of them are cigars that have been aging for quite some time.
- Davidoff of Geneva USA is an advertiser on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was just over two hours.
Back when Skip Martin was pretending to be a cigar blogger, I remember reading a small review he did of the Eladio Diaz 55th Aniversario. From that moment on, smoking one of the Eladio Diaz birthday cigars has become a goal of mine. There aren’t many cigars I would consider personal white whales, this was one of them. It’s not my favorite blend from Eladio Diaz, but the 62nd birthday cigar was fantastic. It’s once again a definition of how a cigar should burn and as I’ve oftentimes found with cigars where Diaz blends to his liking, it tastes nothing like a Davidoff. This was a full-flavored, full-bodied and most certainly full strength cigar. It’s got much of the finesse that I find with some of his cigars, but unlike just every other, it has a combination of raw power and balance that is totally unique. If you can find one—even paying $4,000 for 40 cigars in auction—I’d recommend it, there’s really not anything else I’ve had quite like it.