On November 1 and 2, 2012, Up Down Cigar in Chicago, Ill., held events to celebrate the store’s 50th anniversary. On hand to commemorate the milestone was famed Davidoff blender Henke Kelner, who not only attended, but who also ran a blending seminar for those who were present. In addition, the event was the release of the Davidoff Up Down 50th Anniversary, a 6 x 50 Toro blended specifically for the store’s anniversary.

Only 500 boxes of 10 cigars were made, each priced at $199.50 per box and $19.95 per cigar. The store dictated the size and vitola, but the only thing they asked for in terms of the blend was that it be based on the 2006 release of the 100th Anniversary Diademas Finas.

The boxes the Davidoff Up Down 50th Anniversary come in look like this:

Davidoff Up Down 50th Anniversary Box

Davidoff Up Down 50th Anniversary 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Up Down 50th Anniversary
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff
  • Wrapper: Dominican Republic
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic
  • Size: 6 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $19.95 (Boxes of 10, $199.50)
  • Date Released: November 1, 2012
  • Number of Cigars Released: 500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (5,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2

The Davidoff Up Down 50th Anniversary is a great looking cigar with a dark cinnamon brown covered wrapper that is smooth to the touch and has absolutely no noticeable seams. It is a bit hard when squeezed, but not so hard that I think it will be a problem, and there is no oil whatsoever present. The aroma from the Dominican wrapper is strong leather, barnyard, earth and chocolate.

The first third of the Davidoff Up Down 50th Anniversary starts out with very strong notes of leather, earth, dark chocolate and nuts. There is a great sweetness underneath—almost molasses like—and the perfect amount of black pepper through the nose to compliment the rest of the flavors. I am noticing a little bit of spice on the back of my tongue, but it is far from overwhelming and starts to recede about halfway through the first third. The draw is just a bit tight, but not annoyingly so, and the burn is ok, albeit a bit wavy so far. Smoke production is above average and the strength ends the first third well below the medium mark, but rising slowly.

Davidoff Up Down 50th Anniversary 2

Coming into the second third of the Up Down 50th, I am starting to pick up more of the signature Davidoff musky note, almost like mushrooms. Thankfully, it is not overwhelming the other flavors as of yet, and I can still taste notes of earth, nuts, espresso and cedar. The molasses sweetness is still very much present, but is still not overly strong and it combines quite well with the rest of the flavors. The pepper from the first third is noticeably reduced and while the draw is still perfect, burn is still wavy. Smoke production is still above average, and the strength is still below medium, albeit stronger than the first third, and I don’t think it has leveled off just yet.

Davidoff Up Down 50th Anniversary 3

The final third of the Davidoff features less of the mushroom note from the second third, along with more cedar, earth and leather. There is an added saltiness that comes and goes until the end of the cigar and a bit more sweetness as well. Interestingly, there is a significant uptick in the amount of pepper on the retrohale in the final third, somewhat taking me by surprise. The burn also finally evens out, but the strength barely hits the medium mark by the end of the smoke. 

Davidoff Up Down 50th Anniversary 4

Final Notes:

  • Interestingly, the name Davidoff is nowhere to be seen on either one of the bands on the cigar or the box itself. In fact, looking at it, the only way you would know it was a Davidoff is if you noticed the similarities in the band layout itself and the fact that it says, “Especially blended by Henke Kelner” on the top of the box.
  • The wrapper color on the Davidoff Up Down 50th Anniversary is dark and rustic. In fact, it almost reminds me of the wrapper on the Colorado Claro releases.
  • The draw was excellent for the entire cigar, but the burn was definitely wavy on both samples I smoked and did not even up until the final third. Not a major problem, but a bit annoying nonetheless and surprising on a Davidoff.
  • The so called Davidoff musk, which tastes to me like a strong mushroom flavor, is present in just about every Davidoff I have smoked, in varying degrees. While it can be an interesting note in small amounts, when it gets too strong, it just overwhelms the palate. Thankfully that was not the case for the Up Down 50th.
  • Along with the Davidoff, La Aurora released 100 25-count boxes 100 Años Coronas.
  • There are actually two separate releases of this cigar in this release, although all the cigars were rolled at the exact same time. The first batch of 250 boxes of 10 was sent to the store for the November 2012 event. The second batch, once again of 250 boxes, is set to arrive right around now, mid-March 2013.
  • The red color used on both the bands and the boxes are a favorite color of Diana Silvius, owner of Up Down Cigar, so much so that it matches the website.
  • Given Davidoff’s reputation and branding for “White Label,” it’s somewhat unique that Davidoff would make a cigar with a band that is not even close to white.
  • Cigars for sent this review were sent to halfwheel by a reader.
  • The final smoking time for both samples averaged about one hour and 40 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Davidoff Up Down 50th cigars, the only place you can get them is at Up Down Cigar. Don’t forget to tell them halfwheel sent you.
87 Overall Score

One of the issues I have with most Davidoff cigars is that a majority of them end up with essentially the same profile, regardless of vitola or even release. If you love that profile—then that is most likely a good thing—but if you don't, it can be problematic. The main thing about the Davidoff Up Down 50th Anniversary is that while it does have quite a bit in common with other Davidoff releases, it definitely is its own cigar. Yes, the mushroom note is a bit distracting at times, but it is never all that strong and the pepper blast at the end of the cigar was a total surprise to me, in a very good way. It is still assuredly a Davidoff, but the profile is easily unique enough to make me want to smoke it again.

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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.