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 to its predecessor.
A Cuban-made Davidoff Dom Pérignon with its namesake, Dom Pérignon champagne
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.