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Cigar Review: Quai d’Orsay Secreto Cubano Exclusivo Francia RE (2016)

24 Oct 2018

Quai d’Orsay occupies a unique little corner in the landscape of post-nationalized Cuban cigar offerings. The line is named for the street that runs along the left bank of the Seine in Paris, where both the French Foreign Ministry and the headquarters of former state-owned tobacco monopoly SEITA are located.

Quai d’Orsay was created to appeal to French tastes, which was believed to favor milder cigars. The line was reportedly created by Cubatabaco in 1973 at the request of SEITA. SEITA managed the brand outside of the purview of Cuban cigar distribution company Habanos S.A., until SEITA merged with Spanish tobacco company Altadis, which later purchased a 50% stake in Habanos.

The brand has featured a resurgence in recent years. After years of neglect, Habanos revamped the line and elevated it from a purely regional brand to a global one. (It doesn’t hurt that, unlike so many other brands, there isn’t a competing non-Cuban version in the U.S. market, which means it wouldn’t face the same trademark hurdles if the Cuban trade embargo is ever completely lifted.)

Given the historical connection, it’s no surprise when Quai d’Orsay is featured as a regional exclusive for the French market. In 2016, another RE was released called Secreto (4.3 x 40). The three small coronas I sampled featured golden brown wrappers and were slightly spongy to the touch.

Pre-light notes included bread and cedar. Once lit, the cigar quickly shows off notes of hay, cedar, and white pepper. The profile is mild- to medium-bodied and evolves to include hints of cumin, pine, sourdough bread, and light roast coffee.

Secreto exhibited excellent combustion, with a perfectly even draw and a sturdy black and gray ash. At around $8 per cigar, and packaged in boxes of ten, it’s one of the more affordable Cuban cigars our there.

I’ll admit this cigar surprised me, in a good way. Despite its small size, it provided nearly an hour of enjoyable, interesting, complex flavors. That earns the Quai d’Orsay Secreto Cubano Exclusivo Francia RE 2016 a rating of four and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick S

photo credit: Stogie Guys

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