In early 2011, Quesada handed out samples of a then inostly unknown blend to a few people at the Pro Cigar Festival in the Dominican Republic. Called the Selección España for obvious reasons, the blend was initially made exclusively for the Spanish market, but after some great early reports from samples handed out at various events, a very limited number of boxes of the three original vitolas – Corona, Robusto and Short Robusto – were shipped to a few retailers in the U.S. every month.
In 2012, Quesada decided to release a limited number of 7 x 38 lanceros in the España blend in a fairly unique manner: every month, a Quesada retailer was chosen at random via raffle and shipped one cabinet of 50 lanceros, making the total production for the vitola a microscopic 600 cigars.
In December of 2013, Charlie Minato broke the news that the one cabinet a month Quesada Selección España shipment would continue in 2014, but with a new 7 x 33 Ninfa and a new way of choosing which retailers received the cigar.
First Quesada made an España Lancero, now they are onto something even thinner. While the company will no longer be sending one retailer a month a cabinet of España lanceros, it will continue the program next year with an 7 x 33 Selección España Ninfa.
Terence Reilly of SAG Imports, the distributor for Quesada, told halfwheel that the first of the 50-count Ninfa cabinets will ship in January.
“It looked like we were going to have to cancel the Ninfa until we asked our production supervisor, a man who has 20 years experience rolling all sorts of strange shapes and sizes, to see what he could do,” said Reilly.
“He was quite positive he wasn’t going to be able to make one with the España blend but after much pleading and the promise of a bottle of scotch, he set out to see what he could do. After two prototypes, one which didn’t draw consistently and one that lost the distinct España flavor, he finally nailed it.”
The cigar carries an MSRP of $12.95, a steep increase over the Lancero’s $8.50 price tag. The reason has to do with just how difficult the cigar is to roll.
“It was the most difficult cigar we’ve ever made,” said Reilly. “With a 7×33 there is very little room for error, and, to further complicate matters, the España has four filler tobaccos.”
The Ninfa will be the fifth España vitola to be released. The cigar was originally a Spanish market only release, but after much requests, the company opened up U.S. accounts with the three original sizes, before adding the limited Lancero this year.
This year, the lottery system has been abandoned.
“Unlike the 2013 lanceros, these boxes will not be chosen at random,” said Terence Reilly, general manager for Quesada Cigars. “One retailer will be selected each month. The change is due to two reasons: one, several very deserving accounts did not receive any and we aim to rectify that; and two, no one believed it was a raffle and so if we are going to take flack from people not receiving a box, it might as well be deserved.”
- Quesada Selección España Short Robusto (4 x 50) — $7.95 (Boxes of 20, $159.00) — March 2011 — Regular Production
- Quesada Selección España Robusto (5 x 52) — $8.50 (Boxes of 20, $170.00) — March 2011 — Regular Production
- Quesada Selección España Corona (5 1/2 x 42) — $7.25 (Boxes of 20, $140.00) — March 2011 — Regular Production
- Quesada Selección España Lancero (7 x 38) — $8.50 (Cabinets of 50, $425.00) — January 2013 — 12 Cabinets of 50 Cigars (600 Total Cigars)
- Quesada Selección España Ninfa (7 x 33) — $12.95 (Cabinets of 50, $647.50) — January 2014 — 12 Cabinets of 50 Cigars (600 Total Cigars)
The cabinets that the Quesada Selección España Ninfas come in are the exact same design as the ones used for the Selección España Lanceros, just a bit smaller because of the smaller ring gauge of the cigars and a change in the name of the vitola and size on the front.
- Cigar Reviewed: Quesada Selección España Ninfa
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Quesada Cigars
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Ariparaca
- Binder: Dominican Republic
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Size: 7 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 33
- Vitola: Ninfa
- MSRP: $12.95 (Cabinets of 50, $647.50)
- Date Released: January 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: 12 Boxes of 50 Cigars (600 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 5
The España Ninfa is covered in a mocha brown-colored wrapper that has some noticeable tooth to it, but is devoid of any oil at all. Resistance is appropriate when the cigar is squeezed and there are small bumps running up and down the length. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of cinnamon, creamy leather and cedar.
Starting out, the Ninfa has intense flavors of cinnamon, milk chocolate, leather, tart citrus and slight earth, along with a very light sweetness that I can’t place just yet. The profile is fairly creamy overall, which combines well not only with the aforementioned flavors but also with the white pepper that is present on the retrohale. The draw and burn are excellent so far and the smoke production is dense and copious. Overall strength is barely into the medium range.
There are a multitude of changes during the second third of the Quesada Selección España Ninfa, not the least of which is a crazy increase in the sweetness, which is now easily identifiable as an interesting combination of vanilla and maple notes. The base profile remains quite creamy and other flavors of leather, earth, milk chocolate, nuts, and that same tart citrus flit in and out, seemingly always changing. The white pepper note on the retrohale is just a bit more pronounced than in the first third, which is a welcome addition, but I am hoping it does not get much stronger. Construction-wise, the draw has just the right amount of resistance, while the burn is close to razor sharp. The strength has increased a little as well, but is still well short of medium by the end of the second third.
The final third of the Ninfa continues the trend of overt sweetness, with a little more vanilla than maple present, along with the creaminess of the profile in general. The rest of the flavors flow in and out: coffee, milk chocolate, nuts, leather and earth, as well as a slightly stronger citrus note than in the second third, although it does disappear totally at certain points. I do notice an interesting peppermint note that is extremely fleeting, and only present in the final third, but it was present on three of the five samples I smoked. There is still quite a bit of white pepper on the retrohale, but no spice at all on the lips or tongue, and both the burn and draw continue to impress me until the very end of the cigar, when I put it down with less than an inch left.
- I smoked an España Lancero and España Ninfa side by side to gauge the differences between the two: the Lancero was noticeably creamier, a bit less sweet, and quite a bit more mellow, while the Ninfa’s flavors were a bit more distinct and had a little more pepper on the retrohale. It should be noted, the Lancero is a full year older than the Ninfa.
- All 600 of the Selección España Ninfas to be released this year were rolled at the same time.
- On January 2, Quesada announced that in commemoration of its 40th Anniversary of its factory in the Dominican Republic, it would be changing the name of its factory and current distribution company so that they are now collectively known as Quesada Cigars. Previously, the distribution arm was known as SAG Imports.
- Two batches of samples were sent to us by Quesada Cigars. The first came in November and was without bands, the second arrived a few weeks ago with bands. There were definitely draw problems with my early samples of this release, which really diluted the flavor profile quite a bit, and made some of them unsmokeable. My colleague, Charlie Minato, struggled keeping his earlier samples lit.
- At 33 ring gauge, the cigar requires a lot more attention than your standard cigar. If you are lighting with a triple flame, you will literally torch the foot and a good bit of wrapper. If you try to smoke too quickly, the profile will turn on you quickly, but if you don’t identify the sweet spot as far as pace, the cigar will go out.
- Traditionally, the ninfa vitola is a 7 x 33 slim panatela and there have been numerous examples released through the years, although the vast majority of them have been Cuban products and most of those have since been discontinued with perhaps the most popular example, the Punch Ninfa, being discontinued in 2002. The closest non-Cuban example that I found was the Macanudo Cafe Portofino and Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real Porto Real, both of which measure 7 x44. There is a also CAO La Traviata release that is called a ninfa, but at 4 x 38, actually measures nowhere close to the traditional size.
- Having said the above, I know of at least one other ninfa that should be debuting this year from a different brand.
- I have always thought this blend shines in smaller vitolas, with the Corona being my favorite in the line until the Lancero was released. For what it is worth, the Ninfa continues the trend, although all of them are excellent.
- Not enough can be said about the construction of these cigars, as both the draw and burn were perfect on every one of the production samples I smoked. Quesada should think about giving the production supervisor who rolled these another bottle of scotch.
- If you are not retrohaling with this cigar, you are wasting your time and money.
- The cigars smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by Quesada, who is a halfwheel sponsor.
- The final smoking time for the samples I smoked for this review averaged one hour and 25 minutes.
- At this point, Just for Him in Springfield, Mo. is the only store to receive a box. They are already sold out.
Incredibly nuanced, perfectly balanced, excellently constructed, this newest incarnation of the España line hits on all cylinders for me, and is truly a great example of a medium-bodied, full-flavored blend in what may be my favorite vitola of the line. The flavors in the profile are sharp and distinct, working in perfect harmony with each other, and they are just a joy to smoke.