The Quai d’Orsay Clemenceau – Cuban Cigars with a Gallic flavour

The Quai d’Orsay Clemenceau – Cuban Cigars with a Gallic flavour

by Nick Hendry

Some of the most popular and collectable Cuban cigars are those rolled as Regional Editions.  First introduced in 2005, with a handful of Punch and Ramon Allones cigars being made available to the Italian, Swiss and British markets, the series now sees distributors across the world apply each year to have exclusive releases only for the loyal customers in their own territory.  Now they are a regular feature of the Habanos release calendar, keenly anticipated by smokers everywhere.

Some rules to the scheme do apply:  the large global brands may not be used, the same brand may not be used by a distributor in 2 consecutive years, and the vitola must be one already used in Cuban factories, but not by the brand requested.  Occasionally these special editions are given the dual purpose of celebrating an anniversary or event, such as the Quai d’Orsay Clemenceau, finally released just a few days ago.

The double band of the Quai d'Orsay Clemenceau

The commemorative double band celebrating the distributor's 50th anniversary.  This image, and lead image, from Coprova

The Clemenceau is presented in the celebrated Julieta No 2 format – the 47 ring gauge by 7 inch behemoth used by Cohiba for the Esplendidos and Romeo y Julieta for their famous Churchills – and is sure to become an aficionados’ favourite straight away.  The name is intended to honour Georges Clemenceau, the early 20th century French Prime Minister whose name once adorned Romeo y Julieta cigars of the same size.  Their release is to celebrate the 50th anniversary of French importer Coprova, with 15,000 boxes of 10 being produced – a fitting tribute to an impressive milestone.

Quai d’Orsay are a brand which have seen more frequent special releases in recent years.  2019’s Limited Edition Senadores was (and still is, when available) extremely popular, it’s subtle sweetness proving a hit with smokers across the globe.  Prior to this there were 5 Regional Editions released for France alone, in all manner of shapes and sizes.  The 2016 Secreto Cubano is a diminutive 40 ring gauge by 4 3/8 inches, like its Cohiba namesake, while the Capitolios which hit the market in 2018 were a monumental Sublimes, 6 ½ inches by 54 ring gauge.  Both bear the trademark light body and creamy flavours of the brand, and both have become extremely desirable collector’s items.  Lebanon, Asia-Pacific and Switzerland have also all used the brand for the regional editions, but it is the 6 produced for France which form the majority.

The Quai d'Orsay Senadores

The magnificent Quai d'Orsay Senadores from 2019

It should not come as a surprise that so many of the Quai d’Orsay regionals are French, as the brand itself began life as a similar concept.  In 1973 the idea was brought to Cuba that a brand be created solely for the French market, using a blend of tobaccos that would suit the nation’s taste for light body and pair with their own classic luxury products, like champagne and foie gras.  The name was drawn from the famous street on the banks of the Seine in the heart of Paris – reports have it variously as the locations of the foreign ministry, the importer’s offices, or simply a love of the avenue which inspired the choice – and four vitolas were released, including the one brought back today for the Clemenceau.

For over 40 years the brand remained confined to France, but the reputation for delicious light flavours which are particularly suited to being alongside a morning cappuccino spread around the world as travellers to France took their finds home with them.  In 2017 the brand was given a revamp, with new branding and a total overhaul of the sizes offered, and made available around the world.  Since then the profile has gone from strength to strength as smokers around the world become increasingly aware of the delights to be found in a lighter cigar.

The Quai d'Orsay Secretos Cubanos

The diminutive Secretos Cubanos are becoming increasingly hard to find

With the release of the Clemenceau – alongside the Sélection Royale Swiss regional, also from 2020 – Quai d’Orsay stakes an even stronger claim to being amongst the most popular of the post-revolution brands.  To have made such a name for itself despite only being available globally for 4 years is impressive; a strong testament to the creators of the blend and the artisans rolling the cigars. 2023 will see the marca’s own 50th anniversary come around – we should wait with bated breath to see what is created to commemorate it.

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