Unlike some others, i’ve always been a fan of Regional Editions (REs) — to me, they offer something different and unique, a once in the year experience. Inserting something different into the regular rotation of cigars is always welcome, if for no other reason than it allows you to differentiate better the flavours of the cigars you smoke on a day to day basis.

The detractors of the REs say that they are marketing gimmicks, made to boost the sales and profits of the regional Habanos distributors. While that may be true, it doesn’t mean that these are bad cigars: more often than not, i’ve found great flavour with them, for example the wonderful Punch Platino RE India (2009). Enough reason for me to look forward to them every year.

I’ve not missed a single RE for the Asia Pacific region since they started being released in 2006. While most have been good, none have been really outstanding. Would 2011 be the year when this changes? The Asia Pacific REs for 2011 are the Quai d’Orsay Superiores (robusto) and the Punch Sabrosos (torpedo), both vitolas that i really fancy. The Sabrosos will be saved for another day, the Superiores goes first.

The pre-light aroma is simple and sweet. Nice woodiness, and a distinct chocolate-ness from the foot. The cigar itself feels a bit light in the hand, i compared it with a Epi 2 and Juan Lopez 2 from the humidor, and both are noticeably heavier than the QDO. The wrapper is healthy with a slightly oily feel, minor veining. I quickly grab my cutter, slice off the cap and toast it carefully to light.

The first few draws are very tasty! Sea salt and spicy, tingling across the lips and tongue. If there ever was a cigar that would go well with a full bodied espresso, this would be it. The saltiness in a cigar is quite rare, in my experience. But my earlier suspicions about the packing of this cigar is correct: the draw is loose. Either the cigar was rolled loosely, or with insufficient tobacco or incorrectly bunched, the draw is quite a let down. Loose drawing cigars tend to burn hot and fast, and the overall experience is less than optimal. I quickly check the other sticks of the QDO i have unlit, and their heft is similar to this. In all probability the draws on those will be fairly loose as well. Not sure if this is done by design, some smokers i know prefer easy draws, and the shorter smokes that this leads to. Despite being a robusto, the cigar will be done in 45 minutes, quite fast.

As i smoke through the first third, it also becomes apparent that the tobacco is quite young; i can feel the tannic bite at the back of the throat — a surefire tell of the youth of the tobacco. I would say probably less than 12 months old, easily. Not much a fan of young-ish tobacco, it just makes me feel like the cigar was rushed through production. On the upside, it can indicate that the cigar has a lot of room to grow, as long as the tobacco is of sufficiently superior quality.

In the second half, as i rapidly reached the end of the cigar (very fast burn due to the looseness of the draw), strong hints of deep roasted cocoa appeared. Quite nice, and a nice twist in the evolution of the flavour profile. The spiciness, gone in the middle third, was back strongly, lasting all the way to the end. Right at the nub, there was some grassiness as well which is normally apparent in higher end brands such as the Trinidads and Cohibas. This cigar may have some aging potential, if this any indication.

Verdict: 82/100. Not a bad cigar, but very very young. The loose draw was a real disappointment; from what i’ve been hearing from friends and other sources, this seems to be a growing trend with some brands. The cigar entertained with some evolution in flavours, which just may be it’s saving grace. Perhaps with some aging time, it’ll give flavours an opportunity to blend more evenly.