I am often asked – as I’m sure many readers of the EGM Blog are – to recommend a Cuban cigar for a beginner. Whenever I am, the brand I immediately suggest is not Hoyo de Monterrey – even though it’s a fine choice for such an occasion, and will often be recommended in shops due to it being one of Habanos’ Global Brands – but Quai d’Orsay. It is the ideal choice for a person’s first smoke: the lightest body of all Havana cigars, plenty of flavour and with a core range of classic 3 vitolas which suit most smoking occasions. The largest, and most suited to long, lazy afternoon cigar sessions, is the Quai d’Orsay No 54.
The lightness of body which is the hallmark of the brand is entirely by design, having been conceived in the early 1970s to suit French market tastes of the time, and to pair specifically with champagne. It should not be assumed, however, that a brand so suited to the novice has nothing to offer the expert: while the body and strength are low the quality and taste are high. I prefer to enjoy Quai d’Orsay in the daylight hours, often in the morning with a cappuccino, but the size of the No 54 will allow it to fill a longer spell in the evening as well. At 54 ring gauge by 5 ⅜″ it smokes for around 80 minutes: perfect to watch the sun go down on a summer’s day with a glass of something cold, light and refreshing.
A beautiful box of Quai d'Orsay No 54
- The wrapper of the No 54 is usually claro (a very light golden colour), silky and smooth. This was no exception.
- Each and every sip of this cigar gave all the smoke I could have hoped for; no issues with potential plugging to worry about.
- Performed perfectly from beginning to end, perfectly straight burn and no need to adjust. Smouldered gently when set down without even going out.
The ash of the cigar was fairly compact and solid
Ash : 4/5
- Perhaps a little more grey than would have been ideal, but fairly compact and clung to the foot well.
- Fragrant and plentiful, cool and delicious. This cigar produced masses of smoke, unsurprising considering the size.
- Gentle, fresh flavours and a delicate body throughout this cigar. Perfect for the sunny afternoon on which it was enjoyed, and paired well with a light coffee. Had I tried anything more substantial alongside it, the notes from the cigar would likely have been drowned out.
- The size of the Quai d’Orsay No 54 can make it seem imposing, and a strange recommendation for a beginner. While its smaller sibling, the No 50, may be more suited to those a little intimidated by their first smoking experience the No 54 will not overpower and disappoint, despite its stature. This is a cigar I had struggled to find until our recent visit to Le Magritte, and the arrival of this box soon after made my day. I’d advise anyone who can to grab some of these while they’re available.
The branding for Quai d'Orsay was modernised in 2017
Final Score: 91/100
- The box from which this cigar was lifted was the first I have seen with a 2022 date stamp, making this the freshest cigar I have smoked in a while. There was no trace of youthful bitterness, thankfully, and the first third brought touches of cream, vanilla and very slight sweetness with the exceptionally light-bodied smoke. As the cigar progressed the body filled out a little and the notes of cream disappeared, the sweetness of grass and summer fruits becoming the most noticeable note. The cream returned towards the end of the smoke, now accompanied by a hint of coffee and the slightest touch of oak wood. Still the body was light; still the strength was low, but this was by now means a boring cigar for someone who smokes a lot. A wonderful cigar from a wonderful brand.