In November of 2012, Davidoff released the Year of the Snake. You could say it was a follow up to the previously released Year of the Dragon, a very limited release that was not talked about, but in reality it was the beginning of releases honoring the Chinese Calendar. Since the release of the Snake, they have released the Horse and Sheep, and for 2016 they have recently released the Monkey. All cigars have been different in blend and vitola, and even the packaging is unique for the annual releases. I have been a fan of the program/releases since I first smoked the Snake, and while the Sheep and Horse have not lived up to the Snake's standards, they have been solid releases. Today I look at the Monkey though and see how it smokes.
Cigar: Davidoff Year of the Monkey Limited Edition 2016
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Factory: Cigars Davidoff
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
Binder: Mexican San Andres
Filler: Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Peru
Length: 6 1/2"
Ring Gauge: 50
Production: 30,000 cigars, 3,000 boxes of ten
Finished with a piglet like pigtail cap, the cigar is constructed with great skill. It is firm from head to foot and the wrapper is applied perfectly. The color of the wrapper is a nice marbled brown coloring, and it has a coloring classification between Natural and Maduro. The cigar has an aroma at the foot of chocolate and hay, a great and new combination, and the wrapper is giving off notes of fruit, hay and subtle chocolate notes. I have found that these Chinese Zodiac releases are all unique, so I am looking forward to this release.
The cigar begins by delivering a great cinnamon and rich earth flavor profile. I am picking up some manure and hay flavors, and there is a nice milk chocolate and leather quality with that. There are some additional Asian spice notes with the cigar, and it has a nice sugary sweetness with a hint of white pepper. A complex first third, it is full flavored while delivering a medium-full strength and body level as well. The cigar shows great construction, and the cigar is producing a solid burn line with a dark charcoal ash on the end. The ash is holding on firmly to the end, and there is a nice bit of smoke produced with each draw.
When I get into the second third of the cigar I find that there is an increase in spices and I am getting some more white pepper notes. With that though, I find that the cigar is delivering a nice creamy flavor profile that has some seasoned wood, milk chocolate and barnyard qualities. It is still showing that hay and cinnamon flavor profile, and it also has some nuts and coffee bean qualities with the cigar. The cigar remains full flavored, and I would say that the body and strength remain at that medium-full level as well. The construction as well remains perfect as well and it is producing that even burn line with the nice dark charcoal ash on the end.
The final third is almost a return to the first third and it is a third that focuses on those milk chocolate and hay notes. There are those creamy flavors present as well, and it really creates a cool flavor profile. There are some Asian spice notes present as well, and the finish is of wood and white pepper. Very complex, this is a terrific toro and a great example of the blending skills of Davidoff. The cigar remains full flavored in the final third, and the body and strength remains at that medium-full level. The construction is top notch to the end, and it is producing a cool draw, beautiful dark charcoal ash, and a nice burn line.
Entering its fourth year, the "Davidoff Chinese Symbol Release Program" has been somewhat successful for me. I think Year of the Snake is fantastic, one of the best releases from Davidoff and anyone else to be honest in many years, but the follow up releases did not live up to that initial release. They were still solid releases, but on a personal level I could not justify the cost. To me, they were very reminiscent of standard Davidoff releases, so I could not fully get behind them. The Year of the Monkey however is a return to the qualities that were present in Year of the Snake and it is a great cigar. There is a nice bit of complexity present with the blend, and with that comes a great body and strength level. The construction is perfect, why should I be surprised, and it is a 2015 release that once again shows what Davidoff can do. So many people look at Davidoff as being strictly Dominican, but I will say that they make great blends with tobacco from all over the world. I give this cigar a solid 92 rating. Simply fantastic.
Overall Rating: 92 AKA "Box Split"