Every year since 2012, Davidoff has released a cigar based on the Chinese zodiac calendar, with each cigar named after the corresponding animal. Next year is the ninth year in the calendar, and as such, the annual limited edition is named the Davidoff Limited Edition 2016 Year of the Monkey.

The packaging materials that comes with the box has a bit more to say about this year’s release:

With a cigar in the hand and a twinkle in the eye, you won’t find a more entertaining companion to celebrate the Chinese New Year with than the Monkey.

For the Monkey, there is never a dull moment. They, like Davidoff, see time as something to be filled beautifully, and filled to overflowing. A lively and irrepressible spirit, the playful presence at any gathering.

For the Monkey’s mind is always alert and alive, curious toe see what is possible. They are clever creatures and crafty opportunists. Where they see a chance, they take it. Where they face a challenge they think their way over, round and through it.

They are simply lovable enthusiasts, eager to experience all the various flavors life has to offer, flavors which Davidoff are equally eager to supply.

In terms of the cigar, the Davidoff Limited Edition 2016 Year of the Monkey is a 6 1/2 x 50 toro that features a pigtail and retails for $34 each.

Blend-wise, the cigar incorporates a Ecuadorian habano Rojiza corte 3 wrapper covering both a Mexican San Andrés negro binder and filler tobacco’s from the Dominican Republic—hybrid corojo/olor ligero, piloto visos and San Vicente ligero—Peruvian seco and Nicaraguan Ometepe visos.

There have now been four different releases in the series.

Davidoff Limited Edition Zodaic Series

Davidoff Limited Edition 2016 Year of the Monkey Box 1 Davidoff Limited Edition 2016 Year of the Monkey Box 2 Davidoff Limited Edition 2016 Year of the Monkey Box 3

As has been the case with each of the releases before it, the packaging for Year of the Monkey features the color red, a popular color in Chinese culture. However, the color is toned down quite a bit compared to past releases, and the outer shell is actually made of bamboo.

Davidoff Limited Edition 2016 Year of the Monkey 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Davidoff Limited Edition 2016 Year of the Monkey
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Cigars Davidoff
  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Mexican San Andrés negro
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua & Peru
  • Length: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Toro
  • MSRP: $34 (Boxes of 10, $340)
  • Release Date: November 2015
  • Number of Cigars Released: 3,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (30,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Visually, the Davidoff Year of the Monkey is a gorgeous specimen, with a rustic darkish brown wrapper that features a bit of oil and is quite smooth to the touch. While there are some obvious veins, the cigar is a touch hard when squeezed, and features a short pigtail on the cap. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong espresso, nutmeg sweetness, manure, black pepper and almonds, while the cold draw brings flavors of dark fruit, creamy leather, aged oak, barnyard, cocoa and black coffee.

Starting out, the Davidoff Year of the Monkey has immediate dominant flavors of both creamy oak and earth, interspersed with other notes of bitter espresso beans, leather, hay, cinnamon, roasted peanuts and a touch of floral. Although it does not kick in until about 15 puffs in, there is a distinct caramel sweetness on the retrohale that combines remarkably well with the white pepper that is present. The draw is excellent with just the right amount of resistance for my liking, and while the burn is not totally razor sharp, it is far from needing to be touched up. Smoke production is quite dense off of the foot and the overall strength hits a point halfway between mild and medium by the end of the first third.

Davidoff Limited Edition 2016 Year of the Monkey 2

Into the second third and the Year of the Monkey retains the creamy oak flavor, but drops the earthy note that was so dominant in the first third, replacing it with a lush milk chocolate that is on the finish as well. Other flavors of cinnamon, grass, roasted nuts, coffee grounds and a touch of yeast flit in and out, while the maple sweetness gains strength, hitting its high point right around the halfway mark. Smoke production remains well above average, and although the draw continues to excel, the burn has become just a tad wavy, forcing me to touch it up once. The strength has increased noticeably, and reaches a solid medium by the time the second third comes to an end.

Davidoff Limited Edition 2016 Year of the Monkey 3

The floral note from the beginning of the cigar returns in the last third of the Davidoff Limited Edition 2016 Year of the Monkey, although it is still only present on the retrohale. The dominant flavors continue to be a combination of creamy oak and milk chocolate, with other flavors of dark cocoa, rich leather, peanuts, cinnamon, coffee beans and slight saltiness present in the profile. The maple sweetness that was so strong in the second third has receded noticeably, although it is still very much a part of the overall flavors profile on the retrohale, joining the white pepper that is sticking around as well. Construction-wise, the Davidoff’s draw continues to impress, and the burn has evened up nicely, while the smoke production remains at around the same level. The overall strength stalled at a solid medium, and goes no further before I put the nub down with about an inch to go.

Davidoff Limited Edition 2016 Year of the Monkey 4

Final Notes

  • Although Davidoff released some accessories for the Year of the Dragon in 2011, there was no formal release of the cigar. There was however a small release in Asia, although it lacked the same branding and could be a re-banded regular production release.
  • While this year’s incarnation says 2016 on it, the series has historically shipped in November of the year prior to the date attached to the cigar.
  • Davidoff does not use pigtails on its cigars often; in fact, the only cigars that I recall using the feature are some of the vitolas in the Classic line and the Puro d’ Oro releases.
  • I’m really looking forward to seeing what Davidoff’s visual take on a rat is for the 2020 release.
  • According to the Chinese Zodiac, next year will mark the Year of the Rooster. I suggest that the company goes with more of a Foghorn Leghorn depiction.
  • Simply stated, the packaging for this release is one of the best of the year: unique, streamlined and extremely high quality. The outer shell of the box is made of bamboo, with an inner box that slides in effortlessly. Just gorgeous in all regards, and it would not surprise me if it does very well in halfwheel’s packaging awards.
  • As in years past, Davidoff has produced some accessories for the Year of the Monkey release, which you can see here.
  • The final smoking time for all three samples averaged just under two hours.
  • Davidoff advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • If you would like the purchase any of the Davidoff Year of the Monkey cigars, site sponsors Atlantic Cigar, Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136), Emerson’s CigarsJR Cigars and Serious Cigars have them in stock.
92 Overall Score

I have smoked each of the previous limited edition zodiac releases from Davidoff and while all of them have various characteristics in their favor, none of them have blown me away. The Year of the Monkey comes closest so far, with a decently complex profile, excellent construction from beginning to end and an underlying maple sweetness that really sets off the rest of the profile. Although the flavors that are present are not overwhelmingly strong, they are quite distinct and it is an easy cigar to enjoy.

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.