The Davidoff aficionados out there will know that there are 3 variations of the Davidoff Special ‘R’; The Special ‘R’, the Special ‘R’ Tubos and the 702 Series Special ‘R’. I have always wondered how noticeable the differences between them are and so, to fully explore this topic, I took it upon myself to smoke all three back to back to find out.
The Davidoff Special ‘R’ is part of the Aniversario range, launched in 1986. Wrapped in an Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf and Piloto Seco from the Dominican Republic for the binder, the filler is a blend of Piloto Ligero, Olor Seco and San Vicente Visus leaves, all from the Dominican Republic. Measuring in at 50 ring gauge, to make room for the three unconventional filler leaves used, the cigar length is 4 7/8”. This blend produces an aromatic medium smoke, perfectly balanced, with pronounced flavours of spices and nuts.
I enjoyed a mellow start to the cigar with cedar wood sweetness and a creaminess to the smoke at the start. The Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper had a silky grain and beautiful claro colour, and the cigar drew easily producing plenty of smoke. As the initial creaminess subsided in the middle the nuttiness came through with a touch of spice hitting the roof of the mouth. As the cigar finished the creaminess returned, tempered with some black pepper and a more pronounced spice and walnut flavour. Medium in strength, but with a rich flavour this cigar can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
With my palette cleansing black coffee refreshed, it was time for the Davidoff 702 Series - Special ‘R’ which has sadly since been discontinued. The 702 series consists of a selection of Davidoff’s most iconic cigars, with the filler and binder left unchanged, but the wrapper used switched to the 702 Habana wrapper. Developed by Davidoff to produce more intensity and spice, this wrapper leaf is a hybrid of three Cuban ‘Habano’, seeds grown in the volcanic soil of Cotopaxi, Ecuador. Davidoff blenders estimate the change in wrapper can alter the taste of the cigar by 60-70%, dramatically increasing the intensity.
From the first taste, the flavour of the 702 Series Special ‘R’ is noticeably bolder. An intense liquorice spice note is prominent over the woody, creamy flavours of the unchanged filler and binder. This added intensity of flavour is felt throughout the smoke, with the spice tickling the roof of the mouth. Interestingly, this cigar’s body of flavour felt more earthy than the first, with a touch less sweetness and more leather, though the nuttiness and creaminess remained. The cigar finished with some slight citrus notes and white pepper, a medium to full strength smoke that was packed with flavour.
I was surprised to the extent that the Habano 702 wrapper had changed the flavour of the Special ‘R’, a change of only one leaf but with dramatic results. Though the majority of the main flavour characteristics in the ‘DNA’ of the blend remained, there was a noticeable shift in flavour towards the earthy and leather notes, and a definite increase in intensity. This cigar would be best enjoyed later in the day, with a black Assam tea, smooth arabica coffee, or a slightly spiced rum.
Finally it was back to the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapped Special ‘R’, this time in a cedar lined aluminium tube. Again, the draw and smoke production on this cigar was excellent, and the burn arrow straight throughout. The difference in flavour between this and the standard Special ‘R’ is incredibly subtle; an increased sweetness on the tongue and slightly more pronounced cedar wood flavours due to the increased interaction with the lining of the tube. After the boldness of the 702 series variation I thought the Special ‘R’ Tubos may be a bit overshadowed, however the richness of flavour provided an enjoyable and full smoke without question.
The Davidoff Special ‘R’ provides an approachable and satisfying smoke for beginners to aficionados, medium in strength but deep in flavour. The 702 series Special ‘R’ is an excellent example of the importance of the wrapper leaf on a Davidoff cigar, with one change resulting in a great increase to the intensity of the cigar, and shift in the overall flavour of the blend, whilst still being recognisable as the Special ‘R’. But don’t take my word for it, try for yourself, and let us know what you think. See if you experience the differences I found yourself, at your leisure.