The History of Davidoff Cigars

Brandon Hayes

Originally founded as a cigar shop in 1911, Davidoff of Geneva has always been synonymous with premium quality. Originally focused on selling cuban cigars, Zino Davidoff  (who took over from his father Henri Davidoff) was always looking to better serve his customers and improve the experience. It was this dedication to quality and customer experience that led Zino to create the desktop humidor, which allowed his customers to properly store many more cigars at home and thus purchase more cigars! Years later, this dedication still shines through the company today.

Zino had traveled around Latin America when he was a teenager (his father was a cigar merchant in Ukraine). This gave Zino a unique palette for cigars, and he eventually created his own cigar lines for the store called ‘Chateau’ and ‘Grand Cru’. These cigar sizes were named after the wines of Bordeaux and quickly became a European status symbol.

After the store had great success marketing the famous Hoyo de Monterrey Chateaux series, Cubatabaco (the state-run organization that controlled Cuban cigars) approached Davidoff about producing their own line of cigars. These cigars used a lighter wrapper which gave Davidoff a smoother and more mild taste. These cigars were decorated with the white ring and gold lettering that still adorns the white label cigars today.

After years of success, Zino Davidoff became increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of cigars he was receiving from Cuba. Because of their commitment to quality, this eventually led to the company suffering losses. In 1989, in order to highlight his dissatisfaction with the production, Zino lit fire to over 130,000 Cuban cigars in front of Cubatabaco and Swiss custom officials. This was the beginning of the end to the Cuban relationship and in 1991 production ceased. 

Davidoff cigar production was quickly moved to the Dominican Republic, where it continues today. It is this Dominican production that brought the world the white label blends (Millennium, Signature, Grand Cru and Aniversario). These refined blends offer complexity & balance, utilizing lighter and more aged tobaccos than most other cigars on the market. 

Davidoff also released the Winston Churchill and Winston Churchill Late Hour. The Winston Churchill is one of the most sophisticated blends, combining tobaccos from 4 different countries. The Winston Churchill Late Hour is a unique offering in the Davidoff lineup because it incorporates tobaccos that have aged for a total of six months in Scotch barrels.

In more recent years Davidoff has introduced its Black Label lines to appeal to the cigar customer who wanted a richer and stronger cigar. They released the Davidoff Nicaragua (the first Davidoff Cigar to use Nicaraguan tobacco) after years of trial and error. After seeing the success of the Nicaragua, Davidoff expanded the black label lines with the Escurio and Yamasa. These additions utilized all new tobaccos that created a unique experience unlike anything Davidoff had offered before.

Davidoff continues to innovate, offering limited editions such as their yearly Zodiac series, Chefs Editions among many others. These limited offerings often sell out before they hit the shelf. Not only are the cigars themselves fantastic, the presentation is absolutely gorgeous. Among these limited edition cigars, there are 2 cigars in the Davidoff line up that stand alone, The Davidoff Royale Release and Oro Blanco. Priced at $110 and $500 per cigar, these definitely aren’t your everyday smokes. However, these are 2 of the best cigars money can buy.

The Davidoff Royale is the creation of master blender Henke Kelner. Every ingredient for this line is hand picked, and features tobaccos that are grown in near perfect growing conditions. These tobaccos are then aged for 8 years in a specific barn only for Royale Release tobacco. It also utilizes a proprietary Aromatica Dominican wrapper, that Davidoff says it will only use on the Royal. There are only 8 rollers in the Davidoff factory who can roll Royals, each of which have been rolling for at least 15 years and between them have rolled over 7 million cigars. It takes over 10 years to produce each Davidoff Royal, and every single cigar is hand inspected by Master Blender Henke Kelner.

The Oro Blanco takes the the life work of Eladio Diaz (a 35-year veteran of Davidoff) and encapsulates it into a cigar. Eladio was the supervisor of supervisors at Davidoff, and helped create most modern Davidoff blends in production. The cigar utilizes tobacco from a single field in the Dominican Republic, where the Mao, Gurabo, and Yaque Del Norte rivers all meet. These tobaccos were from the the ideal 2000-2001 growing season which was aged for more then 12 years before rolling by rollers with over 15 years experience. These cigars are individually inspected and only released when Eladio Diaz deems them ready. These are the only Davidoff cigar to feature a signature on the band of the cigar.

While some cigar aficionados refer to Davidoff cigars as mild, this is certainly not the case. The Millenium, Winston Churchill Late Hour and Royal are all full strength offerings. This misconception is due to the lengths at which Davidoff ages and ferments their tobacco. Their quality control process allows them to track the ingredients of individual cigars as well as the employees involved in the construction of each cigar. Davidoff’s commitment to quality is unwavering, ensuring that each moment spent enjoying a Davidoff cigar is time beautifully filled.

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