By this time next week, Quesada’s 40th anniversary cigar will likely be out in the open, as the company is expected to preview the product at the annual ProCigar festival in the Dominican Republic. Ten years ago, the company celebrated its 30th anniversary with a cigar using two of its other names: MATASA, the company’s old factory, and Fonseca, the older Cuban trademark the family owns.

The Matasa 30th Anniversary by Fonseca was offered in two sizes, a perfecto (5 3/4 x 54) and toro (6 1/2 x 52). It debuted at a time in which Dominican wrapper was the rave, shortly after Arturo Fuente successfully released the Fuente Fuente OpusX, the first Dominican puro.

In 2003, the same year the MATASA 30th was released, La Aurora and La Flor Dominicana would both debut cigars with Dominican wrappers, a feat at the time. Manuel “Manolo” Quesada Jr., the patriarch of the Quesada family, selected high priming olor wrapper, a native tobacco of the Dominican Republic, grown in the Cibao Valley by the Reyes family. Fillers, some eight-years-old, were sourced from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua, all to make a cigar that was talked about for its strength.

Manuel Quesada said his daughter, Raquel, and Lourdes Veloz de Rodriguez, the factory’s production manager, made the decision to add seco to the blend to combat the harshness from some of the other leaves. 

Around 30,000 cigars between the two vitolas were produced with the perfecto sold in boxes of 10 and the toro in boxes of 20.

Matasa 30th Anniversary by Fonseca Toro 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Matasa 30th Anniversary by Fonseca Toro
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: MATASA
  • Wrapper: Dominican Olor
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras & Nicaragua
  • Size: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro Extra
  • Est. Price: $9.85 (Boxes of 20, $197.00)
  • Date Released: 2003
  • Number of Cigars Released: 30,000 Total Cigars
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 4

The high-priming olor wrapper is quite dark, although there’s little aroma even with the cellophane, only faint notes of sweet hay. From the foot I get some burnt coffee, bark and some spices, right around medium. Cold draw is bittersweet, a gigantic bread note and some floral hints. It’s varying degrees of tight across the four samples, none concerning, but a bit too much for my liking. 

The Matasa 30th starts out great: gigantic sweetness with a bit of toastiness and a great cayenne pepper. As the cigar progresses, the retrohale develops a wonderful floral note that gets sweeter as the cigar progresses. Up front, there’s some burnt cedar and toastiness with a bit of harshness on the end of the palate. Finish of the Fonseca is contrasting, a wonderful acute sugar and then a generic grassiness. Smoke production is average, although it increases if I abnormally pick up my smoking speed. The draw gets tighter, which is concerning. Overall, it’s a shock. Not only was the medium-full flavor unexpected, but the strength was medium, which was not something I could have predicted.

Matasa 30th Anniversary by Fonseca Toro 2

As the second third progresses, there’s a shining star in the nose: the sweet floral note has turned into a peach note. In the mouth, things aren’t going as well. There’s a generic woody note and a developing pepper. At the halfway point, the flavors begin to deteriorate, harsher and bitter. Strength is medium-plus, seemingly leveled off.

Matasa 30th Anniversary by Fonseca Toro 3

There’s not much hope for the final third. The sweetness in the nose of the Fonseca is almost gone, leaving the bitter and harsh cedars unattended. It’s still medium-full in flavor, just not something I really want to enjoy. As the final inch and a half nears, the burn rate slows down even more and the cigar begins to require a lot more touching up to keep it lit which adds some unwanted toastiness to an already unpleasant mixture.

Matasa 30th Anniversary by Fonseca Toro 4

Final Notes:

  • This was probably a powerhouse eight years ago, definitely 10 years ago, and maybe even five. Today, it’s a shell of itself. Just because a cigar is full does not mean it’s going to age well and while the aforementioned OpusX might be a great example of a full cigar gaining nuance after age, the Matasa 30th and the Liga Privada No. 9 are great examples of things going the other way.
  • I smoke around 250 samples to produce a little less than 100 ratings per year, there rare two scenarios I find abnormally challenge to score:
    • When every sample is dramatically different.
    • When the cigar has two very different halves. The Matasa 30th falls into this category.
  • Earlier this year, the company announced it was ditching both the MATASA and SAG Imports name, now known collectively as Quesada Cigars.
  • MATASA stood for Manufactura de Tabacos S.A. The company moved factory locations in late 2011.
  • In 2009 the company introduced the Quesada 35th, which I really enjoyed. There was also a Fonseca CXX in 2011, another very good cigar. 
  • Two samples I smoked had noticeable soft spots and another was crooked. The construction didn’t vary too much from cigar-to-cigar: slow burn, a tight draw, average smoke production and touch-ups needed after the first half. The crooked sample is photographed in the first picture.
  • The bands remind me a lot of the Iconic Leaf Draconian. The logo the company uses is very similar to the cut in the Fonseca bands and the color scheme is similar.
  • Strength was medium-plus, an absolute shock.
  • The 6 1/2 x 52 size is not an incredibly common size, although it’s arguably the signature size of My Father, as all four of the My Father/Don Pepin Garcia Limited Editions have come in the larger toro format.
  • I paid $9.85 per cigar for the Toro. From what I gather pricing was $8-11.
  • Quesada Cigars is a site sponsor.
  • Final smoking time was an incredibly long two hours on average.
78 Overall Score

There is no question this was surprising. Quesada is not known for strong cigars and there’s little chance if I smoked this blind you would have convinced me this was a 10-year-old Fonseca, a brand that is on the milder side of the company’s portfolio. In so many ways, I think this would have been a better cigar if it was only 40 minutes long. Not only did the cigar drag itself out to a point that became annoying, but it also did not get any better after about the halfway point. The flavors began to fall apart to levels that became unenjoyable and the construction just became more annoying. There’ is still a lot of life here, and I have my final sample saved for a redux, probably in about five years. A good start, a poor finish—an absolute enigma of a cigar.

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Charlie Minato

I am an editor and co-founder of Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.