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Davidoff is a Swiss luxury tobacco goods brand name, which is carried by a range of products including cigars, cigarillos, cigarettes and pipe tobaccos. Its cigarette brand is currently owned by Imperial Tobacco but the company is otherwise independently owned by Oettinger Davidoff AG.
The life of Davidoff Cigars is the life of Zino Davidoff. His brilliant savoir vivre infused all aspects of cigar craftsmanship and enjoyment. A visionary in all regards, Zino was a man who ensured time, like each of his cigars, was always beautifully filled. Zino Davidoff was born in Kiev in 1906 to a long line of tobacconists.
The rise of certain political factions spurs the family to move to Switzerland when Zino is just five. His father, Henri, opens Davidoff of Geneva, a fine tobacco shop. Zino grows up with rich scents and busy commerce but as his business grows so does his desire for adventure.
He travels to the lush hillsides of Central and South Americas and the Caribbean, where he immerses himself in the tobacconist’s rites of passage. The farmers and labourers he meets in the tropics teach him the rhythms of soil, sun and rain. Now versed in field work, Zino returns to Europe as it prepares for war.
He channels the heightened energy of the era into his family’s store. Under Zino’s vision, the Davidoff family installs the world’s first climate-controlled room in the store in Geneva. His innovation is a hallmark of the tobacconist to this day.
As the war approaches the shores of Lake Geneva, Zino maintains his verve. France fears for its tobacco stock against invading forces and approaches Davidoff of Geneva for assistance. Humbly, Zino acquires the Parisian inventory of Cuban Havana cigars, protecting them for Europeans to enjoy in later peacetime.
Zino’s store catapults into prominence as a new, cosmopolitan hotspot. Davidoff of Geneva is a place of warmth. Customers become friends as they share cigars and forget the strain of wartime. King Farouk of Egypt, Baron Rothschild, writer Orson Welles and actress Gina Lollobrigida follow their love of fine cigars to Zino’s door. Davidoff of Geneva becomes Davidoff of the World.
Continually absorbed by his love of cigars and his drive to keep them at the peak of perfection, Zino invents a new accessory. Inspired by memories of the sultry air of the tropics, he creates a humidified box to preserve the richness of his tobacco. He calls his sophisticated new contraption a “humidor.”
With the arrival of more peaceful times, Zino reinvigorates his friendships with Cuban tobacconists. Together, they unveil the Chateau Series, including the acclaimed Grand Cru, named after a joyous evening enjoying Bordeaux wines. Building on their success, they release another world-class cigar series, including the famed Davidoff No. 1, No. 2 and Ambassadrice.
A seasoned tobacconist now, Zino shares his treasured cigars worldwide. In 1970, he asks his friend, Dr. Ernst Schneider, to join him in business. The two encourage each other to create progressively exceptional cigars and accessories. With each reveal, Zino deepens his reputation as the world’s premier tobacconist.
Despite a US embargo on Cuban cigars, Zino seeks American opportunities. Always encouraged by his love of fine tobacco, he discovers a Honduran plant and launches of a line of hand-selected Honduran cigars made specifically for America. In 1987, he opens Davidoff of Geneva in New York City.
As the 20th century closes, Zino presides proudly over a new global launch. The New Generation of Davidoff comprises 28 formats from the smallest cigarillos to the majestic Double Coronas, all hand-selected and hand-crafted. These cigars are a celebration of the lifelong devotion, exploration and innovation of Zino Davidoff, a man thoroughly passionate about cigars, fine tobacco and the vibrancy of a life well-lived.
From luxury excursions to international art exhibits, The World of Davidoff has expanded to include distinguished cultural perspectives worldwide.
Cuban Davidoff cigars
In 1967, Davidoff was approached by Cubatabaco, Cuba's state tobacco monopoly after the Revolution, about creating a personal brand of cigars for his stores. The cigars were rolled in the newly established El Laguito factory in Havana, which had been established to roll Cuban President Fidel Castro's own private cigars, Cohíba. In 1968, the first productions of Davidoff cigars were released, which included the No. 1, the No. 2, and Ambassadrice (which all shared the same sizes as the early Cohiba line) and the Châteaux Series (now no longer under the Hoyo de Monterrey label, but exclusively made for the Davidoff marque).
In the 1970s, the Mille Series, a milder blend than the rest of the line, and the Dom Pérignon, named for the famous champagne, were released on the market. In 1986, a special limited release of 80 Anniversarios cigars were made to celebrate Zino's 80th birthday.
In 1982, the Château Yquem cigar produced by Davidoff was discontinued after the owner of Château d'Yquem wine protested over their unauthorized use of the trade name. The Château Mouton Rothschild came out shortly after, though with a different blend and slightly different size from its predecessor.
The Cuban Davidoff Line
The cigars within the Cuban Davidoff line included...
- No. 1 - 7½″ x 38 (192 x 15.08 mm) Laguito No. 1, a long panetela
- No. 2 - 6″ x 38 (152 x 15.08 mm) Laguito No. 2, a panetela
- Ambassadrice - 4½″ x 26 (115 x 10.32 mm) Laguito No. 3, a cigarillo
- Tubo - 6″ x 38 (152 x 15.08 mm) Laguito No. 2, a panetela (same blend as the No. 2)
- Dom Pérignon - 7″ x 47 (178 x 18.65 mm) Julieta, a Churchill
- Château Haut-Brion - 4″ x 40 (102 x 15.87 mm) Perla, a tres petit corona
- Château Lafite - 4½″ x 40 (116 x 15.87 mm) Franciscano, a tres petit corona
- Château Lafite-Rothschild - 4½″ x 40 (116 x 15.87 mm) Franciscano, a tres petit corona (name changed from above circa 1983)
- Château Latour - 5⅝″ x 42 (142 x 16.67 mm) Corona, a corona
- Château Margaux - 5⅛″ x 42 (129 x 16.67 mm) Mareva, a petit corona
- Château Mouton Rothschild - 6⅛″ x 42 (155 x 16.67 mm) Corona Grande, a long corona
- Château Yquem - 6″ x 42 (152 x 16.67 mm) ?, a long corona
- 1000 - 4⅝″ x 34 (117 x 13.49 mm) Panetela, a small panetela
- 2000 - 5⅛″ x 42 (129 x 16.67 mm) Mareva, a petit corona
- 3000 - 7″ x 33 (178 x 13.10 mm) Ninfa, a slim panetela
- 4000 - 6⅛″ x 42 (155 x 16.67 mm) Corona Grande, a long corona
- 5000 - 5⅝″ x 46 (143 x 18.26 mm) Corona Gorda, a toro
- 80 Aniversario - 9¼″ x 47 (235 x 18.65 mm) Gran Corona, a giant or presidente
Apparently after numerous disputes over quality and ownership rights over the brand, Zino Davidoff and Cubatabaco decided to end their relationship. Leading up to this, in August 1989, Zino had publicly burned over one hundred thousand of his cigars that he had deemed of low quality and unfit to sell. The Cuban Davidoff line was officially discontinued in 1991, and an agreement was signed that no more Cuban Davidoffs would be sold in Davidoff shops worldwide. A Dominican-made Davidoff cigar had already hit the market in November 1990, where production of the sizes that had been made in Cuba continues to this day.
Former managers at El Laguito have claimed that the Davidoff blend was very similar to Cohíba, though with a lighter wrapper leaf. The bands used on Davidoff cigars themselves are of the same format that personalized diplomatic cigar bands had been in previous years. Adriano Martínez, a former executive of Habanos SA, confirmed in Min Ron Nee's Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars that the Cohíba Línea 1492 was made to fill the gap left by the discontinuation of Davidoff.
The huge success of the Davidoff brand may have been instrumental in making Dominican premium cigars the number-one bestsellers worldwide, though many would argue that this is solely as a result of the U.S. embargo on Cuban cigars.
Davidoff products today
In August 2006, Imperial Tobacco acquired the worldwide Davidoff cigarette trademark from its owners, Tchibo Holding AG for £368 million (€540 million). Imperial Tobacco Group had been the licensee of the worldwide Davidoff cigarette trademark since its acquisition of Reemtsma in 2002.
The cigarette range includes the Magnum, Supreme, Classic, Mild, Lights, Magnum Lights, Slims, Super Slims, Ultra lights, Menthol, Menthol Lights, One and Gold. Rothmans, Benson & Hedges of Canada began importing Davidoff cigarettes for sale in the Canadian market in April 2007.
The Oettinger Davidoff Group owns the worldwide Davidoff trademark for tobacco products other than cigarettes. Davidoff cigars continue to be produced in the Dominican Republic, under the direction of cigar blender Hendrik "Henke" Kelner. Since moving to the Dominican Republic, most of the vitolas were retained, although the Chateaux series was renamed the "Grand Cru" series and the names switched from wine estates names to simply numbers, and the Dom Pérignon was discontinued. Davidoff has also added an Aniversario series, a Millennium Blend series, a Special series, a Primeros series, a Poro D'Oro series and Nicaragua series to its lineup, along with numerous limited edition and yearly special releases. Davidoff also produces a line of cigars known as “Zino” and a line of cigarillos.
- Min Ron Nee, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Post-Revolution Havana Cigars (2003, Reprinted: 2005).
- James Suckling, "In Search of Davidoffs: Connoisseurs are Buying Up Stocks of the Swiss Cigar Maker's Discontinued Havanas," Cigar Aficionado, vol. 2, no. 1 (Autumn 1993), pp. 46–55.