A few years ago, Quesada celebrated its 40th anniversary with a line of special cigars. As part of the release, family patriarch Manuel “Manolo” Quesada Jr. created his own special blend for the release, known as the Corona Clasica.
That cigar went over quite well and last week Quesada Jr. turned 70, along with two special cigars in tow to celebrate the occasion.
Quesada Jr., like many others, grew up in the business and can trace his roots back to Cuba. His family served as tobacco brokers beginning in the late 1800s and left Cuba in 1960. At the time, Manolo was just 13. He would settle in Miami—along with his mother, his siblings and later his father—where he would go to school. At the time, his father was helping to establish the company’s new business in the Dominican Republic.
While in college, Quesada Jr. was selected for the draft. Despite not being a U.S. citizen, he chose to go to Vietnam. His service got him American citizenship.
In June 1974, the Quesada family set up Manufactura de Tabacos S.A. (MATASA) with $100 and a chair. The three roller operation took the Quesadas from a family of tobacco growers to manufacturers. Over the years, the company has made cigars for a long list of clients, gaining notoriety for making Antillean Cigar Corp.’s Sosa brand prior to and during the cigar boom along with making Romeo y Julieta at one point.
Today its portfolio is divided between brands it manufactures—the eponymous Quesada and Fonseca brands—and those made by Plasencia under various Casa Magna names.
Manolo is part of the fourth generation of the Quesada family and tobacco. His daughters—Patricia and Raquel—along with niece Esther and nephews Hostos and Terence (Reilly) make up the fifth generation—each playing an active role in the company’s operations, all under the watchful—and notably mustacheless—eye of Quesada Jr.
As for the Manuel Quesada 70, it’s offered in two sizes, both 6 x 52, one toro and one belicoso.
- Manuel Quesada 70 Torpedo (6 x 52) — 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Manuel Quesada 70 Toro (6 x 52) — 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
The company has declined to talk about the blend, with Terence Reilly, general manager of Quesada Cigars, going as far to say his uncle, Manolo, refused to tell him.
Both sizes are priced at $12.95 and limited to 1,000 boxes of 10 cigars of each size.
- Cigar Reviewed: Manuel Quesada 70 Toro
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Quesada Cigars
- Wrapper: Dominican Republic
- Binder: Sumatra
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $12.95 (Boxes of 10, $129.50)
- Release Date: March 2017[ref]These cigars debuted prior to the Aug. 8, 2016 FDA deadline. The cigars began trickling out in greater form in March.[/ref]
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
The wrappers look almost identical in color to a Kit Kat bar’s milk chocolate exterior. From the wrapper, there’s a slight pepper, barnyard and some creaminess. The foot is substantially more interesting with oatmeal raisin cookie, baker’s chocolate and some cedar; medium-full and relatively sweet. The cold draw reminds me a bit of a Cuban cigar, largely thanks to a roasted cedar flavor that I find in a lot of Cuban marcas beginning with the letter H. In addition, there’s some creaminess and spearmint—all adding up to be about medium-plus in flavor.
It starts with a nice mixture of apple, creaminess, pistachio, barnyard and a citrus-laden earthy mixture. No one flavor really stands out in the medium-full mixture, and despite the plethora of flavors and even balancing, it’s extremely clean. There’s some fruitiness in the first third, namely a raspberry on top of some walnuts, bitter cocoa and at times a lemon-like citrus. All of those flavors are hidden under a fair bit of earthiness, which doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of letting up. All three samples are burning extremely slow and two require touch-ups, which is somewhat annoying less than an inch in. Flavor is full, body is medium-full and strength is medium-plus.
The Manuel Quesada 70 Toro, which I really want to refer to as the Manolo 70, is still quite woody and now noticeably less sweet. There’s still a lot of complexity if I go looking for it with the noticeable additions of a bready mixture—sometimes sourdough and other times pita—and a nuttiness that is peanut-oriented. In addition, the Quesada has toastiness and the same citrus flavor as before, which varies in lemon intensity. While I don’t get a ton of pepper in the initial flavor, after taking a retrohale a white pepper develops in the nose and works its way down the throat before disappearing five seconds after it makes its first presence. Construction remains quite similar, the burn is slow, at times requiring touch-ups and smoke production is bountiful. Body picks up to full and strength is borderline medium-full, while flavor remains full.
There’s a return of the apple flavors I found on the first few puffs, starting first as an apple skin flavor and then getting closer to a candied apple flavor. For better or worse, the woodiness is still the dominant force, though due to an increase in temperature, it’s not as rich as it was before. A mixture of blackberries and plums along with some red wine create a much fruitier profile, even if most of that isn’t inherently sweet. There is some sugar-like presence in the portfolio by way of a butterscotch flavor, but it’s quite minor. The pepper continues a very similar performance as in the middle parts, though instead of white pepper it’s a sharper wasabi note entering the picture immediately following a retrohale. Burn issues continue to plague the cigar, now affecting all three samples I smoke.
- If you want to learn more about Manolo’s life or Quesada’s family history, I’d recommend reading this piece from Cigar Aficionado.
- One sample managed to avoid the touch-ups until the final third. It still burned extremely slow.
Despite prolonged lighting periods, I never felt like I had a cigar that was fully lit and burning properly. While touch-ups were needed, smoke production was above average from puff to puff, but I could feel that small parts of the cigar weren’t burning with the same consistency as others.
- I’m not sure if the blends are identical between the two sizes, but the cigars are certainly different. I found the Toro to be a bit more flavorful than the Belicoso, though the one sample I smoked of the latter didn’t have the same burn issues.
- One bit of difference is the divider in the box, which isn’t present in the Belicoso boxes.
- This is the second cigar of the last few years that Manuel Quesada Jr. has blended specifically to his liking, the other is the Quesada 40th Corona Clasica.
- The concept of a cigarmaker blending a cigar for his or her personal taste is actually somewhat unique. Most cigars on the market are not the personal favorites of the people who blended them. Rather, they are made to satisfy demands in the marketplace, created because of tobacco supplies or a variety of other reasons that are not related to how much a particular cigarmaker actually likes said cigar.
- These two sizes were chosen because these are Manolo’s preferred sizes.
- If the cigar thing didn’t work out, Manolo probably could have gotten work as a narrator.
- Cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by Quesada Cigars, which advertises on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was an incredibly lengthy two hours and 45 minutes.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Payless Cigars & Pipes and Smoke Inn have the Manuel Quesada 70 in stock.
Update (April 25, 2017) — Blend info has been added.
I loved the Quesada 40th Corona Clasica. It finished fifth on our top 25 for 2014. As for this personal blend from Manolo Quesada, it will not enjoy the same fate. Constant touch-ups on two cigars negatively impacted the cigar’s score, but for much of this—particularly those two samples—I found the cigar to be too earthy to let many of the complexities shine. There’s certainly nuances there, but the cigar forced me to work a bit too much to find them.