Cigar Review – Quai D’Orsay No.50

Origin : CubaQuai d'Orsay
Format : Petit Robusto
Size : 110 mm x 50
Ring : 50
Price :~ € 8.00 / $ 9.80-

Draw : Rating: ★★★☆☆☆
Burn : Rating: ★★★★☆☆
Flavours : Rating: ★★☆☆☆☆
Aroma : Rating: ★★★☆☆☆
strength : Rating: ★★★☆☆☆

The new Quai d’Orsay No 50 Petit Robusto, is an attractive but quite un-even cigar, offering some pleasant patches of Hoyo de Monterrey type light flavour, unfortunately mixed with some dull segments that rather spoil its value for the premium hand-made tariff.

After having been very positively impressed by a box of the new Quai d’Orsay France Exclusive Secreto Cubano small sticks (40 x 110), I was motivated to sample this also new 50 ring gauge petit robusto of identical length from Quai d’Orsay. But I have the feeling they overall rushed to production with something for today’s robusto-centred cigar market, with a little too much insubstantial ‘filler’ to make a really good cigar.

It’s an appealing-looking stick in this length – a vitola shared with the Serie D No 5 Partagás – being I think perhaps perfect for a robusto, neither too stubby, nor too much given the added tobacco in the thicker vitola. The light tan wrapper has a lot of smooth surface that seems carefully selected, suggesting a mild and subtle smoke for which I was prepared, tho I wound up disappointed that at multiple points in the smoke including the beginning, there was just not much flavour there, even of the subtle kind.

Quai d’Orsay is a brand created at the initiative of French government officials back in the 1970s – the Quai d’Orsay in Paris being the physical location of France’s diplomatic service headquarters – with the idea of a marque offering sophistication and delicacy. The Quai d’Orsay classic corona (42 x 142), has long been favoured by some as fulfilling that goal, amidst the Habanos ‘light flavour strength’ brands alongside Hoyo de Monterrey.

At the start of this petit robusto, my initial complaint was that the band was fastened a bit too high – 2cm from the head instead of the usual 2.5cm or one inch. Like many smokers I tend to leave the band on until it is naturally loosened by the cigar heat well into the smoke, but here I unpeeled it quickly. Pre-draw here was a bit too mild and over-subtle, a sign of problems ahead.

Tho I was certainly prepared for a ‘mild and light’ cigar, this stick was overboard in that direction. Accompanied by only some nice French wine as befits the Quai d’Orsay concept, I was disappointed in the first minutes after lighting.
One aspect was that the initial draw was too tight, suprising me given the robusto thickness, tho this is a common experience with the more slender Cubans I usually smoke. A poke with a cigar tool, got things underway, but then the quest for flavour began. I am open to very subtle and gentle flavours, but here at first I really had to dig a bit to feel some sensations.

There were tiny hints of things, but at first the cigar was really without character, and I found myself wishing I had lit up one of my ol’ reliable Cuban short-filler José L. Piedra cheapies instead, not sophisticated but generally delivering some good taste in the modest package.

For the first ten minutes I struggled to find some deeper flavour here, tho I could detect very slight traces of cream and chestnut and woodiness. Later in the first third the flavour finally arrived, and it was good when it came – nice and woody and fairly full, a good bit of spice and some bite upon the tongue, rather like a Hoyo de Monterrey. Even some little bits of fruit taste. Flavours still subtle, but stronger, and very well balanced.

At the start of the middle third, flavour faded away again, and I was a bit too aware of just ‘smoking tobacco’, and I began organising some ice cream dessert to pass the time. Some quality bitter notes began to show up, and then the flavour came back again.

The final third began more strongly, and there were indeed some very fine moments of nuts, wood, cream and honey … but unfortunately this was only part of the time. Flavour faded in and out till it was time to say good-bye.

There was some decent headiness in the cigar from the thickness, tho given the flavour shortages it was not so satisfying. Burn was decently slow, tho given the lack of flavour at points I was wishing for faster progress. White-grey ash held on for more then 3cm at first, tho flat-faced, and it fell off more quickly toward the end. The rolling sense of flavour being there, and then being AWOL, was regrettable. My feeling is that despite the attractive looks, this will not be the shorter robusto people are seeking.