back to top

Davidoff: Born from Passion & Precision


Born into a Jewish family in Novhorod-Siverskyi (formerly Russia, now Ukraine) in 1906, Zino Davidoff was the son of a tobacco merchant. His father had a business in Kiev, but the family migrated to Geneva in 1911 and opened a small tobacco shop. The rest is history as one might say, but the vibrancy of Zino’s story reads more like a movie script than that of a simple merchant.

Hungry for Knowledge

At age 18, Davidoff went to Argentina and Brazil to immerse himself in other facets of the business, working in small factories; then heading to Cuba, he became very involved with tobacco cultivation and cigar production. Noting that cigar storage on the island was different from Europe, through determination and ingenuity, the modern humidor was born from his hands. Zino returned to Geneva in 1930 to assume control of the family business, taking his invention one step further and creating completely humidified storage for all his inventory.

From War Came Opportunity

Zino was contacted by France’s tobacco monopoly (SEITA) shortly after World War II began. Foreseeing that war would interrupt the supply chain, they wished to purchase two million Havana cigars, leaving Davidoff inspired by the challenge – and business opportunity – this situation could provide. With bank-backed support, he became one of the few merchants during WWII who wasn’t plagued by trade disruptions. After the war ended Zino was able to arrange a meeting with the Cuban delegation. His motive? Leverage his relationship into producing exclusive cigars for his growing clientele. 

Made in Cuba, Marketed Like French Wine

Zino and the Cubans came to an agreement, and Davidoff’s legendary Hoyo de Monterrey Château Series was born. The colorful boxes associated with Habanos instead were untreated wood for Davidoff, simply stating his brand, the cigar’s name, Hecho a mano (“Handmade”), and La Habana, Cuba. Enterprising and innovative, this otherwise plain packaging lead to another genius idea: naming vitolas after the best French wines, using the nomenclature as a means to associate his cigars with a heralded luxury product.

Davidoff and Cubatobaco met again in the 1960s, this time to discuss a new line of exclusive cigars – and what was the birth of the brand’s iconic white band with gold script. Beginning in 1969, the first three vitolas were rolled at the Cuba’s illustrious El Laguito factory; in 1970 came a new series, Mille, which was responsible for also launching the brand’s signature white aluminum tubos. 1977 saw the introduction of the Julieta No. 2 (7.0”x47) which shocked the world with its dimensions, but also its name: Dom Perignon. Once again using French luxury as a marketing tool, Zino’s ingenuity proved highly profitable.

Havana No Longer Means Quality

Throughout his many years in business, Zino’s cigars were synonymous with quality: if you bought a Davidoff, you knew you were getting the best money could buy. Various actions waged against Cuba on since the Revolution meant their tobacco and tobacco products were in a continual state of decline, and this greatly angered Davidoff. Draw and burn issues became common, and the superior quality associated with his name was no longer attainable. In August 1989, Zino allegedly set fire to 130,000 Cuban cigars – dubbed the Davidoff bonfire – which by today’s retail value equates to anywhere from $9.8 - $15 million dollars. By 1991, Zino shifted all production of his premiums to the Dominican Republic. Three years later at age 87, he died in Geneva.

The Classics Never Go Out of Style

Within the White Band Collection exists an assortment of marques synonymous with Davidoff in the eyes of all enthusiasts. Grand Cru is inspired by Zino’s landmark wine-cigar marketing analogy that begun in 1946. This ‘90’ rated mellow blend utilizes the finest leaves from select terroirs in the Dominican and Ecuador – a commonality it shares with winemaking. It’s claimed that every 30 seconds an aficionado enjoys a Signature cigar: creamy and sophisticated, it’s home to numerous iconic formats. Aniversario launched for Zino’s 80th birthday, medium-bodied and displaying a more intense profile with nuances of cedar and spice. The ‘94’ rated Millennium delivers strength and refinement due to its Hybrid 151 Ecuador wrapper, which was selected by Master Blenders after 300 trials. Aged Dominican Ligero and Viso leaves lay below, presenting crisp notes of oak, white pepper, and almonds. 

Also part of this series is the ‘90’ rated Davidoff Winston Churchill The Original and Winston Churchill The Late Hour: the only cigars on the market with Sir Winston’s name and iconic silhouette. Davidoff’s Master Blenders sought to create experiences which are as multi-faceted as its inspiration. The Original is a four-country blend that’s dynamic and bold with notes of leather, coffee, wood, and spice; The Late Hour pairs Sir Winston’s love of fine tobacco and single malts by aging its Condega Viso (Nicaragua) long-filler leaves in whisky casks, resulting in deeper flavors highlighted by an increased sweetness.

Entering the 21st Century

The Black Band Collection represents a newer, more forward-thinking Davidoff, embracing the changing tastes of the modern aficionado while never sacrificing the brand’s penchant for quality and innovation. The ‘95’ rated Davidoff Nicaragua is their first Nicaraguan puro, and while a departure from the norm, captures the true essence of the dynamic and fertile soil in Central America. Escurio combines signature Davidoff tobaccos from the Dominican and Ecuador with those from Bahia (Brazil); its larger ring gauges allow for more of the spicy-salty-sweet richness from Brazil to shine through with every puff. It took Davidoff’s Master Blenders 20 years to tame the raw, red soil of Yamasá, resulting in a ‘90’ rated blend that stimulates the senses through an intense earthiness punctuated by sweet oranges, spice, and coffee.

A Bit of Advice

Zino Davidoff was a supremely passionate man when it came to his cigars and his life. His musings are often quoted, but I’d like to leave you with this tidbit: “A well-chosen cigar is like armor and is useful against the torments of life.” Smoke wisely, my friends.

100% satisfaction guaranteed
Get the Latest Deals!
Sign Up for email