And then there was one. The Cuban Quai D'Orsay Imperiales, a 7 inch by 47 ring gauge Churchill-sized cigar, has been officially discontinued, leaving only one size left in the line—the Corona Claro.
Production of the Imperiales came to a halt in the second half of 2014, so boxes of Imperiales with dates as late as May 2014 stamped on the bottom currently exist within the market.
"Because of the Habanos rationalization program, this vitola has been delisted from the catalog," said Antoine Bathie of SEITA, the French arm of Imperial Tobacco and importer of Quai d'Orsay cigars. "It was delisted in the second half of last year, and the Corona Claro is the only remaining size."
Ironically, this discontinuation came the same year that Quai d'Orsay celebrated its 40th anniversary as a brand.
"You can still find Imperiales in some outlets, however there is not a lot of stock in circulation," Bathie told Cigar Aficionado. "But we continue to keep the Quai d'Orsay brand alive and animated thanks to the Regional Edition program."
Regional Edition cigars are unique, market-specific Cuban smokes produced in limited quantities exclusively for certain countries. This year, France will receive the Quai d'Orsay Robusto Diplomatico Regional Edition, which measures 5 inches by 48 ring gauge. Last year, SEITA contracted for 2,000 boxes of the Regional Edition Quai d'Orsay Belicoso Royal (92 points, Cigar Aficionado), a special size rolled to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the brand. The year before, SEITA released the Quai d'Orsay Robusto Embajador (92 points, Cigar Aficionado).
Quai D'Orsay was always a small Cuban brand, created primarily for the French market in the 1970s. At its height, it had five sizes.
Not only does the cancellation of the Quai d'Orsay Imperiales whittle down the brand to a single size, but it also further diminishes Cuba's Churchill category (known as Julieta No. 2s in Cuban cigar factories) to only four Churchills overall. Compare that to the 13 Churchill-sized cigars that were in production 10 years ago.
SEITA only distributes the Quai d'Orsay and José L. Piedra brands. All other Cuban cigars channeled into France are imported through Coprova S.A.S.
This article first appeared in the February 3 issue of Cigar Insider.