Thursday, February 05, 2015

RIP - Quai d'Orsay Imperiales (Churchill)

It is a sad day for afficionados, we are losing one of our own: production of the Quai d'Orsay Imperiales (Churchill) has stopped. The news came from the respected Cigar Insider "The Cuban Quai D’Orsay Imperiales, a 7 inch by 47 ring Churchill, has been officially discontinued, leaving only one size left in the line—the Corona Claro".

I was actually lucky enough to smoke a few of these some years ago, as you may remember (see here and there). There is so much high level competition in this format that no one would dare saying this was the best Churchill out there, yet it was a cigar with character which will be dearly missed. It was also probably the lightest of the Cuban production in this vitola.

Brand will focus on developing its Regional Edition we can assume... ie. more marketing and less traditions, not the way I like things to evolve. Though rather predictable ...


Monday, January 12, 2015

Hey, check my Tumblr!

This blog now has an official Tumblr account :

Check it out! And let me know what you think. 

More pictures and more "social" than the blog. 

Friday, January 09, 2015

My renewed subscription to Cigar Afficionado

I have recently renewed my subscription to Cigar Afficionado.

I stopped buying the magazine a few years ago because it was just "too American" for me. I usually consume a lot of American culture without being too critical, but there was something annoying with Cigar Afficionado : because they have less access to Cuban cigars, and because of political background, I always found them very critical of Cuban production and somehow very supportive (biased?) towards Dominican, Ecuadorian, Honduran or American production... Besides the magazine is filled with ads for non-Cuban cigars using Cuban cigars names (yes I know that is rather confusing), in plain words you will find ads and articles about non-Cuban Cohiba, non-Cuban Romeo y Julieta, etc. So you really have to be well versed in cigar culture already to understand what is going on, ie. that we are not talking about the genuine product. For me that is border-line counterfeiting... So much for Castro's government illegal appropriation of private businesses!

But hey, as we say in French, "only fools never change their mind" or to put in Master Yoda's words "only a Scyth thinks in absolute". The magazine is still one of the best news source for the industry and is rather well crafted. To be fair I would say that their position on Cuba and Cuban production is probably more balanced that I initially thought (though I maintain they are too generous in their evaluation of non-Cuban production). The long interview of Castro conducted by Shanken in 1994 is probably the closest thing to good journalism any cigar magazine has ever published. And anyway a magazine that gave Cohiba Esplendidos (I am talking of the real Cuban brand here ;-) its highest mark in its latest issue cannot be all wrong!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Quai d'Orsay Belicoso Royal - Regional edition (France)

On my last trip to Paris, I stopped by the Duty-Free cigar shop at the airport and was shown a box of cigar I had never seen before: Quai D'Orsay Belicoso Royal, Torcido exclusivamente para Francia - rolled exclusively for French market.

It was not my first encounter with the Quai D'Orsay brand, as you may remember. I was however seduced once again by the beautiful combination of the brown wrapper and the orange ring.

The salesgirl clearly knew how to talk to men like me... the words "limited editions", "our last box", "France exclusive" worked like magic and I was already reaching for my wallet... to buy the whole box. Now that the box is mine and the thrill has gone (so to speak) it is probably time to be more critical about the whole thing. Quai d'Orsay is a brand created by Habanos group (the Cuban cigar state owned monopoly) for the French market and at the request of the French authorities. So the idea that this format (Belicoso) in particular is produced for French market only is confusing since all Quai d'Orsay cigars supposedly are. Truth be told, this production should be labelled limited edition (which it is, see below pictures only 2000 boxed were produced), than regional edition.

The legend has it that then minister of finance Valery Giscard d'Estaing wanted France to have its own exclusive Cuban cigar brand. He mandated the SEITA (French state owned tobacco monopoly) to seal the deal with the Cubans... This limited edition is also there to witness 40 years of collaboration between the brand Quai d'Orsay and SEITA.

"Hey Mr. President, wouldn't it be brilliant to have our own brand of cigars, don't you think?"

I have started smoking these stogies and will share soon some of my comments.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Back from the dead... This blog is alive again! (part 2)

Did a lot of "back-office" work... I have fixed all broken link, and as many images as I could... 7 years of no maintenance clearly did not help. Should be all good to go now.

Christmas is coming, which for me always resonates with cigar time! More to follow...


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Back from the dead... This blog is alive again!


Hi all,

A lot has happened since my last post... I think it was somewhere in 2007... I was talking about a Hoyo de Monterey Double Corona... Not bad for a farewell! A truly amazing cigar.

What has happened since then? I stopped smoking cigars... And started again, reasonably of course. This blog is obviously not about promoting a way of life based on dependence and addiction. Clearly not.

This blog is about freedom. Freedom to smoke some of the best (Cuban) cigars and enjoy life to the full, because life, as well as good cigars, are always too short! So enjoy this...

I'm still a French guy living in Asia, now between Shanghai (too much) and Hong Kong (not enough). I won't bother you with business topics anymore, now it will mostly be about cigars... I may add here and there comments about music or a good book but don't worry I won't lose my focus...

See you soon.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Hoyo de Monterey Doble Coronas

Check out this superb smoke! I am usually not the greatest fan of Hoyo de Monterey which I often find too soft (when they don't simply lack taste). Both the Epicure Numero 2, and the short robusto are far to meet my standards. But yet another case where cigars (as well as others beings) should not be pronounced guilty by association: the double corona by Hoyo de Monterey is a great cigar!

In this category, my favourite was so far the Ramon Allones Gigantes. It will be probably stay there, though the Hoyo de Monterey may show up in my ranking as a "beautiful loser". It is rather light yet very consistent, and quite subtle : almonds, creamy, caramel, buttery, vanilla. Yummy!