In 1976, then French president Valéry Giscard D’Estaing wanted a cigar that France can call its own, so SEITA, (Société d’Exploitation Industrielle des Tabacs et des Allumettes), the state-owned tobacco distribution company (since privatized) attempted to make one, but soon turned to Cuba for help.
It was the first time ever that the Cubans created a brand on request from a country.
There are different narratives as to what the Quai d’Orsay name refers to: one is that it is referring simply to the famous Paris avenue, another is that it refers to the French Foreign Ministry that is located on it, and another is that it is referring to the headquarters of SEITA which is also on the same avenue.
Since then, the Quai d’Orsay cigars have undergone several iterations.
At one time there was only one size, then came a new fancy band and the release of a regional edition in 2011 in the form of the Robusto Embajador. Subsequent regional releases included the Superiores, Belicoso Royale and Robusto Diplomatico.
Forward to 2017, and the Secreto Cubano, the 50 and the 54 were introduced.
During the Festival del Habano 2019, new Limited Editions for 2019 were announced, among them the Quai d’Orsay Senadores. It happened to be Quai d’Orsay’s 45th anniversary.
The Senadores is a 48 ring gauge and 157mm or 6 1/8-inch-long cigar.
The vitola is quite unique. It is a Grand Corona which only a few brands like Bolivar (Emperador), Saint Luis Rey (Serie B) have released.
This limited edition comes in a real fancy sliding box and is medium bodied, delivering a woody and nutty subtle aroma with a perfect draw.
Since the Quai d’Orsay came into existence, other French cigars have also emerged, like the Pléiades, founded in 1984 and made in the Dominican Republic, and the Hedon, founded in 1999 and using French tobacco exclusively, but the Quai d’Orsay Senadores, being Cuban all the way, is a class of its own.
The day after tomorrow, June 19th, is Phase 2 of Singapore’s reopening and a great time to celebrate by buying another box of this from my favorite cigar retailer.