VITOLA: Toro Especial
SIZE: 6-5/8″ x 48
ORIGIN: Dominican Republic
FACTORY: Cigars Davidoff (Dominican Republic)
WRAPPER: Ecuadorian 702 Habano Hybrid
BINDER: Dominican San Vincente Seco
FILLER: Dominican San Vincente Seco; Piloto Sec & Olor Sec
Generous gift from Naren (@OneWorld over at SimplyStogies.club)
RELEASE TYPE Limited Edition
ORIGINALLY RELEASE DATE June 2009
Typical Box Size: Boxes of 10
Production Totals: 2,000 boxes; 20,000 cigars total
o Toro Especial – 6-5/8″ x 48
(only vitola available)
RESEARCH & BACKGROUND INFO
- This Davidoff Seleccion 702 is a re-release of the infamous and highly-acclaimed 2009 release.
- To honor their 50th anniversary in 2018, Davidoff is in the process of re-releasing many of their iconic limited edition blends from the past decade.
- “702” references the internal name Davidoff used to refer to the new hybrid wrapper they debuted on the Seleccion 702.
- The wrapper is Ecuadorian Habano that was carefully created by Davidoff’s agronomists. Hailing from the Finca San Juan farm in the Cotopaxi province, it was a Habano seed utlilizing three parts – including two-parts Cuban seed hybrid, “125.”
- From Davidoff:
The nutrient rich soil – containing ash from the famous active volcano of the same name – and the persistent blanket of cloud characteristics of the region, offer the perfect growing conditions that result in the incredibly rich and intense wrapper leaves with a wonderful, silky texture grown from the seeds.
- For this release, Davidoff is using the exact same binder and filler as the original 2009 release however the wrapper may be the aged, original 702 Habano wrapper. Davidoff simply states it is an “aged 702 wrapper for an even smoother and more intense experience.”
- As an aside, the aged 702 wrapper is also used on various other blends, including AVO’s Classic Covers Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, among others.
A NOTE ON THIS REVIEW
The Davidoff Seleccion 702 was a tale of two stories – one horrendous and one damn near perfect. The first 702 LE 2018 left such a bad impression in my mind – especially for a stogie rolled in a Davidoff facility – that I really felt compelled to go grab another to compare the experience. I swung by my local B&M to grab another and I’m really amazed – it’s not often two cigars of this caliber perform so drastically different. I smoked two cigars for this review and, wow, the difference is marked. Please be sure to note that I have evaluated this cigar on two separate ratings and adjusted the final score to provide a better representation of the experience. I’ve also noted below where the cigars differed throughout the review.
Davidoff rarely departs from their iconic band design. The classic white oval-shaped band is embossed with the familiar gold scripted logo encircled by gold embossed rope. Like most limited edition releases, the Seleccion 702 sports a secondary band. The band has been around since the brand’s Cuban origins and is a classic example of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’ My lone critique is a wish for the re-release to get some kind of differentiating detail – whether it’s the year be added or some kind of other embelishment.
The Seleccion 702 uses a nice, dark Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. The wrapper has a beautiful, milk chocolate brown hue with just a bit of oil to it. The are few semi-raised veins criss-crossing the cigar and the seams are mainly invisible, however, there are a couple areas that are slightly raised. There’s a surprising sponginess to the Davidoff. When squeezed, there is not much resistance and it freely compresses a small amount. The cigar does feel uniform however, with no overly soft or hard areas. The second cigar I smoked for the review was quite different. It had a nice firmness to it with just the right amount of give – really it was exactly what you’d expect from a perfectly crafted Davidoff cigar.
The cap is among the best I’ve ever seen. The triple cap’s transition into the body is so smooth and seamless, it’s easy to miss. The shoulders are symmetrical and uniformly drop nicely into the cigar’s body. Visually, the foot doesn’t offer much except to provide an eye-check for the blend’s even distribution and uniform construction.
Aesthetically speaking, Davidoff’s Seleccion 702 is a masterpiece. Everything from the coloratoin to the construction beckon you to fire it up!
The 702 smells fantastic. There’s some cocoa, cedar, dried fruit and hay going on – a really pleasant smelling cigar.
The cold draw is surprisingly open. The resistance is nearly non-existent – which could be concerning down the road. Flavors off the cold draw are hard to pinpoint but it reminds me of chocolate soft-serve ice cream, but lighter on the palate.
The second cigar’s draw is borderline perfect. There’s a slight openness to it but nothing like the first. It has a nice resistance but leans to just barely on the open side.
LIGHT & DRAW
Cut: Colibri SV (v-cut)
Fire: ST Dupont Defi Extreme
I initially was going to straight-cut the cap, but I’ve really been on a v-cut kick lately. It produces such a good draw without the potential for annihilating the cap the way a straight-cut can occasionally. I grabbed my single-flame Dupont, toasted the foot and lit the 702 up! It ignited perfectly – nice and even with minimal effort needed. A bit of peppery harshness is the first flavor to greet you. The pepper certainly lingers for a bit but is paired up with a couple other immediate flavors – maybe some light leather and some type of rich, creamy wood.
The burn is far from perfect at this point. It’s got a good wave to it but I’m sure with Davidoff’s historically awesome construction, the burn will even out. The ash has some nice layering occurring and the same coloration as burnt newspaper – fading between light grey to nearly black – all with a faint, brownish sepia tone.
Worth noting – the second cigar was markedly less peppery than the first – producing a fantastic slightly pepper-laced creamy leather with wood notes. The pepper found is more on the lingering palate not so much on the forefront. For whatever reason, the second cigar presents a much more complex and interesting start to the experience. I wish I could say the burn improved the second time around but it really has not. For a $30 Davidoff, or really just any Davidoff, this is disappointing. The burn on the second cigar is again quite wavy and really doesn’t offer much hope of improving on its own.
There is a pretty decent breeze today as I smoke on my back porch – making it hard to really get a gauge for the smoke output, color or scent. As far as I can discern, it is plentiful and white. While resting between puffs, the smoke output is very minimal.
>> White pepper, cinnamon, mocha
The first third brings an excellent, immediate richness and array of miscellaneous flavors. The pepper has lightened but still present – bringing to mind more of a white pepper than a harsher black varietal. Additionally, cinnamon blends into the palate with brief appearance by mocha-coffee tones. The retrohale reinforces a stronger pepper profile but helps to highlight the coffee bean notes as well.
The draw remains very open and at this point, it’s one of the few faults I’m noticing. I wish the resistance was stronger but better open than too tight, I suppose. I finally reached for my torch to touch up the burn line, which was developing a significant widow’s peak. It may have corrected itself with some attentive resting but I didn’t want it to get any worse. The ash is flaky and tends to drop sporadically. Maybe as the burn corrects, the ash will become more uniform and stable. There is a surprising strength as the first third transitions to the middle – medium strength with a nice bold, creamy body.
Second Cigar Update:
While the overall “theme” of the flavors above remains true, the real difference is the pepper. While the pepper was prominently featured previously, on this cigar it’s more subtle. The pepper lingers and helps emphasize the mocha-coffee and cinnamon flavors. There is also more leather and cedar coming through. Overall, the initial third of the second cigar is much more complex and balanced. Perfect draw – zero complaints. The burn has actually really improved on its own. It’s far from perfect but it has self-corrected remarkably. I am assuming the second cigar is just better rolled and thus producing a better experience generally. The ash on this stick is much more solid and holding extremely well. The layering is a work of art.
>> Cream, coffee, charred oak
Into the second third and the 702 is weighing heavily on the palate – leaving a rich, creamy mouthfeel. As the first third ends and the second starts, the pepper begins to be supplanted by creamy coffee notes. There is a light sweetness to be found as well – like a faint, dark chocolate – and a bit of charred oak.
Sadly, no change it the draw – still wide open. The burn, with some help, has rectified itself to be much more steady and straight. Towards the back half of the middle third, the cigar struggled to stay lit and, unfortunately, required a re-light. As noted in the first third, the ash continues to be pretty flaky with no departure in the coloration noted in the initial light up.
Second Cigar Update:
Flavors are pretty much on-point with the first. The burn has improved along with the draw but the cigar went out again at about the mid-point.
>> Wood , coffee, chocolate
The final third departs from the pepper almost entirely – the only trace left is found in the retrohale. Wood flavors dominate the palate with drop-ins from some coffee and more savory notes. Cream with a touch of sweet chocolate tone helps to marry the flavors together.
The draw has actually gotten better – offering slightly more resistance than previously. It is still open but within a more acceptable range. Where the draw has improved, the burn line has reverted its poor performance in the first half. A quick touch-up helps but for a cigar of this caliber it should be unnecessary.
Second Cigar Update:
Much like the other notes, the second cigar is performing better overall – flavor complexity and balance, draw and burn.
RATING & FINAL THOUGHTS
While the performance varied wildly between each cigar, the overarching flavors persisted. The subtleties varied but the 702 was a deeply complex and rich experience. The flavors balanced superbly with notes of pepper, soft sweetness and cream, along with some leather and wood.
The burn is a tale of two cigars – the first was miserable and completely unwarranted from a high-end cigar; the second was much more on par with what you’d expect from a $30 cigar. That said, even the second cigar required some attention to stay lit and control the burn line a bit. Honestly, I expect much more out of a cigar in this range – especially one rolled in a Davidoff factory.
0.80 / 0.80 … Craft & Aesthetic
0.50 / 0.50 … Pre-Light Characteristics
0.47 / 0.50 … Lighting Process
6.76 / 7.70 … Smoking Experience
0.46 / 0.50 … Personal Enjoyment
COMPLIMENTS & CRITIQUES
Part of shelling out $30 of your cold hard cash for a cigar means you know exactly what you’re getting. Davidoff has a stellar history of living up to that price point but fell short on the Seleccion 702 – especially considering it was recrafted to commemorate the company’s 50th anniversary.
Few people can afford to regularly smoke a cigar commanding this kind of coin – making it almost certainly a celebratory stogie to the average smoker. Even if the first cigar I smoked was a rogue dud, those really should not exist in this class of cigar. The flavors on the first cigar were good; the flavors on the second cigar were exceptional. The real downfall of the first was the burn and loose draw – basically poor craftsmanship.
SIMPLY STOGIES RATING: 9.0 / 10.0
HOW WE COMPARE
I love reading other reviewers’ thoughts on the cigars I’m smoking and reviewing – it helps to show that no one review is perfect and there’s always different opinions and tastes out there. Here’s how my review stacks up with some of the best in the biz.
Across the board Davidoff’s Seleccion 702 has gotten glowing reviews. If my experiences were not so drastically different, I’m sure my rating would have been a bit higher and match up with some of the very high ratings noted above. Either way, I’m not too far off from the median rating of 8.975.