In my time in the cigar industry, I have been fortunate to meet a lot of incredibly nice, genuine and hospitable people, and there are few that are more worthy of those descriptors as Manuel “Manolo” Quesada Jr.

The Quesada family has a long history in tobacco, and Quesada Jr. was born into the family business, specifically on April 10, 1947. As a family, the Quesadas trace their roots back to the late 1800s and a tobacco brokerage business. Following the Cuban Revolution, the family left the island in 1960 when Manolo was just 13 years old, relocating with his mother and siblings to Miami, while his father would eventually join them after establishing the company’s new business in the Dominican Republic.

During college, Manolo Quesada was selected for the draft, and while not yet a U.S. citizen, he elected to serve in Vietnam, a decision that would earn him U.S. citizenship.

Then, in 1974, the Quesada family set up the factory that most cigar smokers know them for, a facility called Manufactura de Tabacos S.A., or MATASA for short. Starting with just $100 and a chair, as the company tells it, the facility steadily grew and produced cigars for a number of clients, including Antillian Cigar Corp.’s Sosa brand, the Romeo y Julieta brand, along with clients including Nat Sherman

Eventually, the company would begin producing cigars under its own name as well as its Fonseca and Casa Magna brands.

“I have been very fortunate, and blessed, to have worked in the tobacco world for 63 years and for 48 years in the cigar manufacturing side of the industry,” said Manuel “Manolo” Quesada Jr. in a press release when the cigar was announced. “Surprised as I was, I have celebrated my 75th birthday on April 10th and, as I did on my 70th birthday, I have blended a cigar to mark reaching this meaningful stage of my life.”

The cigar is a 6 3/4 x 48 double corona vitola, with a band that uses an Ecuadorian corojo wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.

Production is limited to 1,200 numbered boxes of 10 cigars, with individual cigars having an MSRP of $15. The cigars are made by the Tabacos de Exportación, the factory owned by the Quesada family that is located in Licey, Dominican Republic. They began shipping to retailers in the middle of August 2022.

  • Cigar Reviewed: Manolo Quesada 75th Anniversary Limited Edition
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Tabacos de Exportación
  • Wrapper: Ecuador (Corojo)
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
  • Length: 6 3/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Double Corona
  • MSRP: $15 (Box of 10, $150)
  • Release Date: August 2022
  • Number of Cigars Released: 1,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (15,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

As soon as I slide the Manolo Quesada 75th Anniversary Limited Edition, I can feel the oiliness on the wrapper, reminding me of recently transferring a piece of meat with some olive oil glaze on it and the resulting oily fingertips. Depending on one’s frame of reference, this is either a gorgeous wrapper or one that you will wonder how it was allowed to be placed on a cigar. It’s a meaty brown color with a bit of deep red and maroon hues along with some mottling, visible seam lines and a decent number of veins both long and short. The cigar is rolled to a firm density, and there are a few spots that both look and feel like the cigars might have gotten a bit of a press during the packaging process. All three of the samples look excellent from a visual standpoint, with smooth sides and well-applied caps. The aroma of the foot starts with chocolate cake donut; in particular, the chocolate is distinct in that it’s not what one finds from a higher-end chocolate bar, but a more industrial version after it has been baked. Two of the cigars give me a combination of the aromas of biscotti and croissants, both of which pair well with the chocolate. There’s just a touch of pepper in the aroma, coming at the very end of the sensation that each sniff offers. Air moves well on the cold draws of two cigars, while the third’s is a bit firm. All three have a flavor that tastes thick, muted and not very forthcoming until a bit of a tobacco-induced tingle hits my lips. I have a thought that it might taste like Hershey’s chocolate syrup, though that seems too sweet of a comparison.

The Manolo Quesada 75th Anniversary Limited Edition starts with the peppery tingle from where the tobacco touches my lips transferring to my tongue by way of the smoke. The opening notes are marked by mellow but notable notes of damp wood, damp earth and a bit of black pepper, the latter of which competes for attention with the tingle from the physical contact with the tobacco. There’s a bit of spiciness emerging as well, though with that comes a slightly damp funkiness at times. The first clump of ash holds on quite well, easing past the one-inch mark before eventually falling off either on its own or due to my desire to avoid it landing somewhere other than the ashtray. Once it drops, a bit of woodiness comes along, first building off of the spiciness before jumping off into its own form of palate stimulation. The first third is medium in flavor intensity, subtle but flavorful with a profile that shines in how it unfolds on the palate as opposed to by making a direct impact. Body is medium and strength is mild, while construction is solid in all categories, with the most variance found in the draw as that can get a tick firmer than I would prefer.

The start of the second third shifts the profile just a bit by introducing some creaminess, an addition that does exactly what it should by filling in the handful of gaps in the profile from the first third and providing cohesion, while both beefing up the body of the smoke and softening how it lands on the palate. The damp wood finally begins to dry out, becoming a bit more vibrant but also picking up a bit of sharpness and the occasional twinge of sourness. The smoke gets a bit warmer as it hits the midway point, a subtle change that helps to enhance the flavor and aroma by seemingly freeing up the tobacco to release more of what it has. Along the way there are occasional notes of boiled peanuts and other mixed nuts, a change that also has me realize that there hasn’t been much sweetness to the cigar despite the chocolate I picked up from the pre-light aroma and cold draw. Also along those lines, while it wasn’t sweet, the creaminess that started this section isn’t playing as much of a role as it did earlier, even feeling like it has completely left the profile at times. The final puffs of this section hold onto the combination of evergreen tree woodiness, a pinch or two of spice, a pinch of pepper, and a little glaze reminiscent of a soda sweetness that falls in between Dr. Pepper and root beer. Flavor is medium-plus, body is medium-plus and strength is medium-minus. One cigar still has a bit too firm of a draw for my liking, but otherwise, all three cigars burn well, though as mentioned below there are a few spots where a touch-up is needed.

The final third gets underway with a slightly sharper profile, a change driven by the wood and black pepper gaining a bit of focus, which provides a slightly more intense sensation from the taste buds. There’s a bit of chalk in the mix at times, though building off the warming of the smoke that I noted in the second third, that same phenomenon happens here as well and helps the flavors deliver more impact on the taste buds. A retrohale at the start of the final third delivers a subtle, drawn-out bit of white pepper, something that passing the smoke through my nose has done for most of the cigar to this point. Retrohales thus far have been enjoyable, but their contribution to the overall experience has been limited, though that seems to be changing a bit. The Manolo Quesada 75th Anniversary Limited Edition has one more change left in it as the burn line passes through where the band would be, turning a bit more robust as the flavors tighten up for their finale. On the retrohale, pepper becomes more prominent, which really enhances the flavor as opposed to being simply a minor accent. The final puffs add in a bit of heat, seemingly from the cigar’s combustion as opposed to a change in the spiciness that it has offered thus far. Construction remains very good with no major issues to report, with regular puffs seemingly curing most woes. Flavor finishes medium-full, body is medium-plus and strength makes a push to medium in the final puffs.

Final Notes

  • I love the styling of the bands on the Manolo Quesada 75th Anniversary Limited Edition. It reminds me of old-timey jazz clubs full of well-dressed folks, stiff drinks and cigars.
  • While I generally don’t recommend dry boxing cigars, there were times when I thought it might have benefitted the Manolo Quesada 75th Anniversary Limited Edition. None of the three cigars felt particularly damp, but there were spots where it seemed like a cigar would go out a bit too quickly after a puff.
  • If you ever have the chance to meet Manolo Quesada, I highly suggest doing so. He is a wealth of information, insight and history, and I have always felt better and more informed after speaking with him.
  • Beyond the conversations I’ve had with Quesada, one of my favorite memories is when he offered to shave his mustache as part of the 2016 Procigar Festival. As our recap states, he hadn’t shaved his mustache off in 47 years, but after $15,000 was raised, the mustache came off at the hands of Jose “Jochy” Blanco of Tabacalera Palma.
  • Manolo Quesada was featured in halfwheel’s Portraits Series in June 2010.
  • Charlie Minato reviewed the Manuel Quesada 70 Toro in April 2017. There was also a 6 x 52 torpedo vitola that was released for Quesada’s 70th birthday.
  • I find it interesting that for this cigar, the company decided to use Manolo as opposed to Manuel. That said, over the years I have grown more accustomed to calling him Manolo, so this name feels more familiar.
  • In the minutia department, I also find it interesting that on the Manuel Quesada 70 release, the company didn’t add the th to 70 as it did with the 75 on this release.
  • Likewise, I like the fact that both the Manuel Quesada 70 and Manolo Quesada 75th are offered in 10-count boxes.
  • In its Winter 1994-95 issue, Cigar Aficionado published a very good piece on Manolo Quesada and his time in the industry; it is definitely worth a read.
  • I didn’t get much if any of a nicotine hit from any of the three cigars smoked for this review. The final third makes a bit of a run at delivering some strength, but doesn’t have enough time to really make an impact.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was two hours and 45 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsor Atlantic Cigar Co. carries the Manolo Quesada 75th Anniversary Limited Edition.
87 Overall Score

If you want to smoke a very good cigar with what seems to be some very good aging potential, the Manolo Quesada 75th Anniversary Limited Edition is certainly worthy of a look. The flavors are solid at the moment, generally balanced and well-layered. Yet experiencing how they evolve suggests that there is a lot more to come from this cigar, a thought reinforced by the cigar having just enough points where the profile feels like it has a few wrinkles to iron out before reaching its full potential. Even without the fact that it celebrates a milestone birthday of one of the cigar industry's most notable figures, it is worthy of checking out, but factor in that intangible and the seeming potential for what it could become, and this seems like a solid box purchase to put in the humidor and watch what happens to it with a bit of time.

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Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.