The correct phrasing of the famous saying is “resting on one’s laurels.” It dates back to ancient Greek mythology, where Apollo is described as wearing a bay laurel—an aromatic broadleaf evergreen—on his head. Later in Greece, laurel wreaths were awarded to winners in both athletic and poetic competitions; while in Rome they were symbols recognizing martial victory. Over time, the expression “resting on one’s laurels” began to be used to refer to someone relying on past accomplishments for continued fame and recognition.
Henke Kelner—Davidoff’s long-time master blender and brand ambassador—has never been a tobacco man “resting on one’s laurels.” For example, Henke acquired one hundred hectares of harsh swampland in the Yamasá region of the Dominican Republic twenty-one years ago. Despite the fact that the area was not known for successful agricultural farming, Kelner was convinced that the soil, which is high in micronutrients, could produce a uniquely flavored tobacco leaf. After years of intuitive trial and error, Henke was able to finally grow the tobacco that he had dreamed about when he first set foot in the region. Last year, Henke introduced a new blend named the Davidoff Yamasá, which utilized binder and wrapper leaf from the region. The Petit Churchill vitola received a whopping 95 points on Cigar Dojo and went on to become our Number 2 Cigar of the Year for 2016.
About a decade ago, the restless and uncompromising Kelner began to experiment with hybrid seeds. He crossed a pair of Cuban Habano seeds to create a wrapper that was designated the “125”. This new hybrid seed was then crossed with another Cuban Habano seed to produce a different wrapper named “702”. In June of 2009, Davidoff introduced the Limited Edition 2009 Selección 702 to the market. In the initial press release, the company said,
The release of Davidoff’s annual Limited Edition is always highly anticipated and this year is no exception. This magnificent Toro Especial format, with its inviting pristine wrapper and eye catching oily sheen, is the gateway to an extraordinary taste experience. An exclusive blend of Piloto, Olor and San Vicente tobaccos has been selected from choice growing areas to create intense flavor that is powerful yet smooth and refined. The Sun Grown Ecuador Selección 702 wrapper adds an elegant spice that is especially accentuated in this larger format cigar. A perfect smoke indulgence, the Toro Especial delivers notes of roasted coffee and cacao from the very first draw. This masterful, well-balanced and aromatic blend can only be experienced in the Davidoff Limited Edition 2009.
Earlier this year, Davidoff formally introduced a new line of cigars—the 702 Series. The 702 Series is unique in that it utilizes the composition of seven of the company’s most popular “White Label” vitolas, but with the original wrapper replaced by the Ecuadorian hybrid used in the Limited Edition 2009 Selección 702. Distribution of the 702 Series cigars is as follows;
Davidoff 702 Series Special «R» Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian 702
- Binder: Dominican Piloto Seco
- Filler: Dominican Piloto Seco | Dominican San Vicente Visus | Dominican Olor Seco
- Factory: Cidav Corp, Inc. (Cigars Davidoff – Dominican Republic)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 4⅞″ × 50 “Special R” (Petit Robusto)
- Price: $21.40 (MSRP)
The Davidoff 702 Series Special “R” is one of seven new cigars to utilize the company’s proprietary Ecuadorian hybrid wrapper. Individually wrapped in cellophane, the cigars are shipped in twenty-five count, wooden, cabinet boxes with a sliding lid. For the occasional smoker, the vitola is also offered in a cardboard four-pack.
The tobacco composition of the 702 Series Special “R” differs from the standard Davidoff Aniversario Special “R” in two ways. First, the latter’s Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper has been replaced by the bolder Ecuadorian 702 wrapper. Secondarily, instead of the Piloto Ligero used in the filler blend of the Aniversario, the 702 Series contains Piloto Seco—a bit milder but with increased complexity.
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The Davidoff 702 Series Special “R” is a resplendent looking, small cigar; its overall length slightly shorter than a vitola that is normally classified as a robusto (4 7/8” instead of 5”). Its Ecuadorian 702 wrapper is fairly smooth—with only one visible seam, one elongated vein, very light tooth, and a nicely applied cap. The color of the cigar is an even mixture of chocolate and Peruvian brown with a very slight tinge of reddish-orange. A light oiliness on the wrapper produces a finespun sheen in the afternoon sunshine, like a tobacco plant right before the evaporation of dew.
The robusto is encased with the traditional oval Davidoff band—gold embossing on a white background. To the left of the company’s logo resides the words “ SPECIAL «R»,” while “GENEVE” is on the right. A simple sub-band in gold and white identifies the cigar as a 702 Series Special «R». Very firmly packed from the foot to the cap—bordering on the edge of sun-dried papier-mâché—the wrapper aroma is a bright but delicate combination of finely-aged tobaccos with a smidgen of bittersweet chocolate, while the open foot smells of cream, light barnyard, and a touch of pine tree.
After the cap of the petit robusto is opened with a double guillotine cut—to ensure the maximum amount of taste from the wrapper, binder, and filler—the cold draw is virtually perfect, with just a slight, and desirable, amount of resistance. As a bit of peppery spice formulates on the upper lip, smooth flavors of assorted nuts, cedar, dried fruits, and natural tobacco immediately touch the palate.
After toasting and lighting the cigar with a soft, double-flame lighter, the first few draws produce a smorgasbord of aromas and flavors, which melds into palate-coating deliciousness. Soon thereafter, a tingle on the tip of the tongue develops—which is indicative of the Piloto tobacco used in the binder and the filler. As the robusto settles into the burn, Davidoff’s characteristic mustiness begins to flirt in and out of the profile. These initial notes blend toward a mouthwatering flavor profile that proceeds in a linear fashion from the front of the tongue to the rear of the palate. Flavors and aromas of cedar, espresso, and pecans mingle together in a heavenly balance. The retrohale is piquant and smooth—hardwoods and white pepper—and is an essential component in the enjoyment of this cigar (See “How To Retrohale a Cigar”). An excellent open draw produces a rather prodigious amount of smoke output.
As the Davidoff 702 Series Special “R” enters into its second third, the strength settles into the medium range, while the body of the cigar becomes smooth and round. The aromas and flavors present in the first third of the cigar continue to build, while notes of assorted berry, cream, earth, and leather appear in the mix, adding to the overall complexity of the cigar. The smoking experience during this third is very enjoyable and lush—even though a building dryness requires a substantial sip of San Pellegrino.
Room aroma is reminiscent of an oak and charcoal fire, smoldering on a cast iron grate at the bottom of a stone fireplace. The burn line is very sharp, holding almost two inches of dark-concrete ash, highlighted wth streaks of obsidian between the densely compressed stacks. On the flavorful retrohale, the hardwoods and white pepper notes, present in the first third, are replaced by a mixture of red and black pepper with trace amounts of anise, cumin, and a mixture of minerals.
As it burns through its final third, the Special “R” continues to provide an outstanding smoking experience—complex, flavorful, polished, and sophisticated. With each puff, the espresso notes begin to display a slight increase in bitterness—similar to the difference between shots pulled with Lavazza coffee instead of Illy—while the flavor of a charred porterhouse steak, sprinkled with sea salt, appears as the robusto continues to incinerate. Aromas and flavors continue to be an elaborate combination of practically every category on the cigar tasting wheel—nuts, dried fruits, herbs, spices, and earth—while an increase in minerality produces a desirable amount of saliva on the palate. The burn line remains unwavering, with the ash naturally falling off in a final two-inch clump. It is a fine cigar.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
The answer to that question is, “Frequently.” While the pricing of the Davidoff 702 Series Special “R” is at the upper end, the cigar—like it’s little brother, the Davidoff Yamasá Petit Churchill—is well worth the price of admission. Both cigars have become part of my regular rotation of super-premium cigars, since they deliver very different flavor profiles.
- Smoking Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.
- Pairing Recommendation: Champagne, Espresso, San Pellegrino, Vodka Martini.
- Purchase Recommendation: Full Box
- Outstanding construction
- Unique wrapper
- Mouthwatering deliciousness
- Price Point