When I think of renowned cigar smokers, a few people immediately come to mind. Groucho Marx, with his iconic mustache and cigar wiggling between his fingers for comedic effect. George Burns, who carried a cigar that was half his size as he told jokes on stage and bragged about smoking 10 to 15 cigars a day. Or silver screen icon Clint Eastwood, who would pull a cheroot out of his pocket and set it ablaze before delivering a gravelly voiced one-liner. But one lone figure stands out from the rest—an icon not only for the cigar world, but for Western culture itself. A man so synonymous with cigars that he has a vitola that carries his namesake: Sir Winston Churchill. His cigar-smoking stories follow his legacy, and include such gems as falling asleep with a cigar in his mouth, continuing to puff on it while he dozed; or how he had a special mask fitted for him that would allow cigar smoking while he was completing high-altitude flights during WWII.
While many brands have a Churchill-sized cigar in their library, only Davidoff has a specific line dedicated to the man himself. The conventional Winston Churchill cigar is a super premium line of cigars that are rolled from some of the finest tobacco leaves curated today. The cigar first debuted in 2007, being re-blended and re-branded in 2014. This paved the way for the line’s first and only regular-production sister brand—The Late Hour—which arrived in 2017. But occasionally Davidoff releases limited spinoffs of the Winston Churchill series. The first in this limited collection was the Raconteur (2016), followed by The Traveler (2019), the Winston Churchill Limited Edition 2021, and the Winston Churchill Limited Edition 2022.
Winston Churchill Limited Edition 2022 Breakdown
Binder: Mexican San Andrés Negro (Seco)
Nicaragua: Estelí (Seco) | Condega (Seco)
Dominican Republic: Piloto Mejorado (Viso) | San Vicente Mejorado (Viso) | San Vicente Mejorado (Seco)
Factory: Cigars Davidoff (Dominican Republic)
Production: Limited Edition (12,300 boxes of 10 cigars)
Vitola: 5?” × 61 (Perfecto)
Price: $34.00 (MSRP)
This year’s release takes a hard departure in size from the rest of the series, as it is rolled in a distinct double perfecto shape. These cigars come packaged in 10-count boxes that are styled after Churchill’s briefcase. The presentation is monogramed with his initials, and includes a letter from his great-grandson Randolph Churchill. I appreciate such touches in a limited-edition cigar, and I am hopeful that these special touches carry over to the cigar itself.
The Winston Churchill Limited Edition 2022 is a very uniquely shaped cigar. Its double perfecto shape is both chunky and slender at the same time. I struggle to retrieve the band from the cellophane as it easily slipped off of the cigar as I removed it. Not that it affects the smoking performance, or that I don’t already know that it was due to the shape of the cigar itself, but I do find it an annoyance. It has a classy looking white band, embossed with a metallic gold silhouette of Churchill himself (wearing his iconic bowler hat and cigar in his mouth). A thin black sub-band lies beneath, indicating the limited-edition year. It’s simple and not overstated.
The foot of the cigar is rolled to a narrow, tapered point that is about the diameter of a pencil. As I run my fingers across the wrapper, I find it has a smooth paper bag feel. The leaf itself has a sheen to it, with many veins running across it—none standing out too much, but they are easily discerned and present throughout.
I inhale deeply with my nose against the cigar and I am greeted with the aromas of farmyard. It takes me back to warm summer mornings that followed an overnight rain, growing up on the family farm. Sweet dried grass notes are mixed with a slight manure alongside a vegetal decay. The nostalgia that accompanies this smell is pleasant and makes me smile. The narrow foot doesn’t allow for an olfactory once-over (unless I want to try to use the cigar to give myself a makeshift COVID test).
It’s a hefty stick, especially when you take into account how little tobacco is at each end. Squeezing it between my fingers, it is quite firm, and only gives to the pressure slightly. The head of the cigar is more rounded and wider than the foot, and cuts cleanly with my guillotine. Cold draw notes are difficult to discern, as the draw is expectedly tight due to the cigar’s shape. Molasses, light floral, and a damp wood are the only flavors I can distinguish.
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You have to be very careful when lighting this cigar. The narrow foot doesn’t allow for toasting, and you can easily scorch the wrapper, so a quick light and puff technique is what I use to get the cigar lit. The first couple of long, slow draws are met with great resistance (4/10). The only flavors revealed are faint, with the dominant one being that of a musty closet, backed with a light leather tang. Ever so slight black pepper tingles on my tongue through the finish, with flavor, body, and strength sitting at an already-impressive medium.
As I progress past the narrow foot, the draw opens significantly, and the flavors are much more easily distinguished. Roasted walnuts along with sourdough bread are the primary notes I’m picking up, backed with a fresh-cracked black pepper. It’s not unpleasant, but I can’t help but feel that all of these earthy profiles are slightly stepping on each other. One notable flavor that is standing out at the moment though is lemon zest mixed with light florals. Overall, I’d put the flavor at a medium-plus, with the strength and body holding at a solid medium to full, respectively.
As the slightly wavering burn line reaches the midsection, I can’t help but be a little underwhelmed by this cigar. While the flavors are easily discerned, they haven’t really progressed that much, and are becoming slightly uninteresting. A general roasted nut and the same sourdough bread note still steer the ship on my smoking journey. The black pepper has now turned into more of a musty white pepper—more in line with the flavor you get off of the regular Winston Churchill. Not long afterwards, a significant change is starting to take place for the first time in the cigar’s performance. The roasted nut flavor has smoothed into a creamy cedar flavor with a generic toasted bread note. It’s a nice change, albeit still not that impressive for a top-shelf-priced cigar.
Finishing out the last of the Davidoff Winston Churchill Limited Edition 2022 cigar, the smooth cedar has taken more of a tannic wood profile, and the white pepper has returned, being quite potent on the retrohale. This is the most diverse the flavors have been through the entire smoking experience. A raw mushroom note is developing, as well as tangy leather and florals. I am saddened that I am taking my last few puffs, as these flavors are more in line with my palate, and I am enjoying them a lot. The last puff I take, I catch a swirling mix of all of these flavors alongside a sweet floral note that closes the cigar out quite nicely.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
My view of limited-edition cigars is that they should be something special, setting them apart from a company’s core line. Davidoff has such a high standard of production and quality that producing a standout cigar is a feat. The limited-edition Winston Churchill—while a solid representation of the Davidoff brand—doesn’t really elevate itself from the rest of the portfolio. When you pair that with the price point, I would have to say that I would more than likely reach for another Davidoff (perhaps a Late Hour), and in a vitola that is more to my preference. The double perfecto, though it is a very eye-catching roll for a cigar, is not one that I enjoy smoking, due to the shape constricting the draw and the overall lack of tobacco at each end.
Smoke Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Pairing Recommendation: Cuban coffee | Dark rum cocktail | Lower-proof bourbon | Highland Scotch
Purchase Recommendation: If you can find them, buy a couple
Body, strength, and flavor stay evenly matchedBurned nicely for a double perfecto—no touchups requiredFlavor transition at the end is very standout
Draw starts off excessively tightFlavors tend to step on each otherComplexity, while present, is not impressive
Originally posted on September 9, 2022 @ 7:18 am