Our Mr. Ping Cigar World Tour took its first steps earlier this year, and here we are again all about cigars and enjoying the good life! So when CEO and Member of the Board of Oettinger Davidoff AG Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard visited Dubai earlier this month, it was only right for us to host a gathering with the brand that brought us the Winston Churchill cigar, at the Churchill Club, one of Dubai’s newest gems.
In a secluded enclave of the Four Seasons DIFC, the intimate Churchill Club is where every cigar aficionado would feel right at home. Rich wood and padded leathers create a fancy yet cozy study atmosphere, while views of Burj Khalifa and DIFC highlight the sophisticated surroundings of the space. Along with Mr. Hoejsgaard and Lionel Boutry, Senior Regional Manager – Middle East at Oettinger Davidoff AG, our team welcomed friends in the discovery of the brand’s latest cigars, the Davidoff Yamasá which took 20 years to see the light -all pun intended!- and the Davidoff Dubai Edition, a limited cigar collection celebrating the city of life.
Paired with cocktails and delicious bites, the cigars offered guests a world of flavors in an enjoyable, friendly ambiance. Mr. Hoejsgaard introduced the two lines and elaborated on the inspirational journey that accompanied the Yamasá for two decades. Laughter, smoke and story swaps filled the evening, reminding us of the lovely evening that launched the Mr. Ping Cigar World Tour in Basel back in March.
We met up with Mr. Hoejsgaard more recently to discuss the Yamasá in more detail.
For me and many other smokers, the first reaction at the beginning of the Yamasá was that it tasted very peppery. All in all it’s a beautiful smoke. After a few cigars, we felt it was rather similar to the Puro Nicaragua but with a different wrapper. Many of us loved the Yamasá more than the Toro. Hans-Kristian did not share our analysis: “For me, looking at the cigar blend wise, it’s completely different. With the smoking panels we conducted in Europe, it scored higher than most our other cigars. A critic even said: ‘This is how I imagined a Cuban Davidoff would taste.’ So you see, it is quite different.”
The Yamasá is not here to replace the Puro d’Oro.
I shared with Hans-Kristian the surprise expressed by many smokers about the Puro d’Oro possibly going away. However, he assured me it’s not the case. “It might some day, but that’s not the plan. We worked on the Yamasá for various reasons: the whole agricultural experiment, and the production of a full bodied cigar in the Dominican. The Puro d’Oro is niche; many people found to be very strong, too strong for some. Therefore we wanted to present something a bit more toned down to appeal to a wider audience. The Puro is our number 1 brand is Singapore for example, so we’re not going to take it away.
The Yamasá has a varied target audience.
The Yamasá is a strong cigar too. It is sought by young people who like a strong smoke. So does it appeal to other audiences too? “For the past five years, we have been trying to change the cigar smoking ways; the goal is to have different people smoke different cigars at different times of the day. We believe that the Yamasá created yet another territory in the taste development that we didn’t previously have. It’s a good full bodied, evening cigar to accompany a nice meal. We are also targeting Cuban smokers who are looking for that taste which also has a consistency and quality that only we seem to be offering at the moment.
Young smokers are all about taste and experience.
When asked if the Yamasá is the ultimate cigar for the many Middle East and Europe Cuban smokers, Hans-Kristian explains: “That was the idea with this line. The way to expand our reach is to try to convert people or get on their menu. They will still smoke their Partagas and the likes, but hopefully a Yamasá too. Our aim are young smokers; we’re already seeing it in the US and Germany. For them, it’s about the taste, the sensation, the pairings.
The Winston Churchill line suits new smokers the most.
Cigar brands are becoming more and more about the experience and a connection, that’s how smokers are converted. Cigars are often paired with beverages, and the Yamasá is one such example. However, cultural and social restrictions in the Middle East and mainly the Gulf sometimes prevent such leisures. Many smokers in this region also look for mild cigars they can smoke all day. So, what is the ultimate cigar to convert them in Mr. Hoejsgaard’s opinion? “We have tried to deliver many different tastes and experiences. It’s a journey. You can go through the signature range such as the short perfectos that both you and I appreciate, towards stronger more full-bodied or complex cigars. I think Middle Eastern smokers, like many others, would appreciate the Winston Churchill line the most. It’s accessible in terms of taste, has complexity, and both a strong and mild side.”
Davidoff offering a Cuban adventure is only a matter of when.
Is Davidoff on track today to be seen and well recognized by smokers all over the world? What is still missing? “We need to strengthen our Middle East market,” said Hans-Kristian. And in terms of the product range being complete: “We think that with the completion of Yamasá, we are pretty replete in terms of our offerings. The ultimate thing would be if and when we return to Cuba. We’ll then have a pure Cuban pillar although I personally think that is less and less important. Davidoff is a brand and not a territory, so it would be great to add the Cuban pillar to our group. It’s only a matter of when.”
The Yamasá is available in travel retail and in several countries Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Benelux) with more to come.