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29
Mar

Origin : CubaQuai d'Orsay
Format : Reyes
Size : 4 1/3″ x 40 ring gauge (110mm x 15.87mm)
Ring : 40
Hand-Made
Price :~ € 7.50 / $ 9.80-

Draw : 5 out of 6 stars
Burn : 4 out of 6 stars
Flavours : 5 out of 6 stars
Aroma : 4 out of 6 stars
strength : 3 out of 6 stars

The Quai d’Orsay Secreto Cubano, an exclusive French regional edition (‘Exclusivo Francia’) for France’s national Cuban cigar marque, is a wonderful, exciting small stick offering a dramatic and pleasing progression of taste, superb draw and construction, and extraordinary good value in a Cuban small cigar. It’s amongst the very finest short-&-slender Cuban sticks out there.

Cuban small cigar aficionados will immediate recognise the vitola, identical to that of the Cohiba Secretos Maduro & Trinidad Reyes sticks, and this Quai d’Orsay matches those cigars every bit in interest, despite the modest (in France) pricing. With limited production of 10,000 boxes of 10 cigars, a premium for these superb stogies is well-deserved, if you are not able to be in Paris traversing the streets visiting several Habanos shops in order to locate them.

The Quai d’Orsay brand history is unique, as it is a Cuban brand created at the request of another national government, an early 1970s idea of later Président of France Valéry Giscaird d’Estaing from when he was French Minister of Finance. The notion was to create a Cuban cigar of subtlety, delicacy and sophistication to match that of French cuisine, a cigar that itself would be part of French culture.

The Quai d’Orsay in Paris on the Seine River, is the location of the French foreign ministry, and in French ‘Quai d’Orsay’ is essentially a synonym for the French foreign office and diplomatic service, a name that, for French speakers, hints of international glamour and refinement. There has been an effort recently to re-vitalise the brand, with new standard vitolas and a series of special editions, of which the Secreto Cubano is the newest release, and this cigar succeeds in advancing that agenda.

Habanos classifies Quai d’Orsay as a ‘light’ flavour strength brand, but this should not be taken as meaning ‘weak’ or ‘un-interesting’ – the rich Hoyo de Monterrey brand is ‘light’ as well. ‘Light’ here essentially means ‘subtle’, tho indeed Hoyo or Quai d’Orsay sticks are never overpowering.

Wrappers on these Secretos Cubanos are not top-level pretty, but of good colour, and the soft-firm balance to the touch seems perfect. As newly-released cigars, the aroma at the foot was a bit leathery immediately out of the factory box, but after a couple of days mellowing in a small humidor it was more of a scent of hay and sweetness. There was also a bit of leather in the pre-draw after punching, but that was the last I noticed of it. Pre-draw also had a small touch of spice with a large dose of hay, which marked the first third.

The course of the smoke is intriguing with a number of change-ups, and it behooved me to pay attention as some nice tastes – like a briefly strong cocoa phase – are glimpsed only quickly. Initial draw brings out smiles and a chuckle, as it is immediately clear this is a cigar greater than its modest price. Rich full taste, burning hay toasting in the farmyard, a bit of sweetness, with an overall flavour density that belies the image of a ‘light’ cigar. Lots of little glimmerings, touches of pepper, cedar or mahogany, sweetness coming and going, the toasty hay sense varying often.

The middle third typically sees a big shift, to an as-if different but still very enjoyable cigar. Here there tends to be less hay and more of various kinds of woodiness, along with some exciting but brief very sweet spots of near-chocolate. A sophisticated dried-fruit bitterness often begins to set in, making one think of the bitter (in the positive sense) apertifs so often served and enjoyed in Europe.

In the final third the flavour palette shifts yet again, with the apertif-type high-quality fruit-seed bitterness often continuing, now matched with some satisfying nuttiness, and some episodic returns of the toasting hay and various kinds of woodiness. As with the also ‘light’ Hoyos, one can go fairly deep into the nub here without things getting too unpleasant.

The draw is a wonder in small Cuban cigar terms, with no problems at all, no need to bring out a cigar-piercing tool. And yet the burn is extremely measured and slow, tho not quite even, and I usually had to re-light, perhaps because this stick gets me so contemplative I lose track of the pauses between puffs. Ash was sometimes missing the pointiness and was a bit crumbly, the counterpoint to the excellent variety of tastes.

There is some extra headiness here versus some other Cuban ‘light’ cigars such as the Fonseca, and this little Secreto Cubano actually seemed a shade stronger than Hoyos, but never more than ‘medium’ even at the tail end.

With a lot of rich flavour experience in a nice, slow-burning, and thus for me well over a half-hour smoke, I was feeling the greatness of this slender small Cuban for its wonderful in-France price. The more expensive Trinidad Reyes is even more sophisticated in its subtleties, and the even more pricey Cohiba Secreto Maduro has its unique flavour and kick, but this new Secreto vitola from Quai d’Orsay gets the prize in the value sweepstakes for slender small Cuban sticks. Now I just need to take that train back to Paris and find a few more boxes.

Cigar Review – Quai D’Orsay Secretos Cubanos Exclusive Francia

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