Earlier this year, Quesada announced it would be celebrating its 40th anniversary with a line of cigars called the Quesada40th Anniversary. The cigars were shown off in March at the annual Procigar festival in the Dominican Republic, an organization Quesada has close ties and an event that has played host to the debut of many of its cigars.
- Quesada 40th Anniversary Robusto (5 x 52) — $8.95 (Boxes of 20, $179) — Regular Production
- Quesada 40th Anniversary Toro (6 x 54) — $9.50 (Boxes of 20, $190) — Regular Production
- Quesada 40th Anniversary Toro Real (6 x 65) — $9.95 (Boxes of 20, $199) — Regular Production
- Quesada 40th Anniversary Toro Press (6 x 49) — $10.95 (Boxes of 10, $109.50) — 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Quesada 40th Anniversary Salomon Press (6 3/4 x 50/33) — $12.95 (Boxes of 10, $129.50) — 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- Quesada 40th Anniversary Corona Clasica (6 1/2 x 46) — $9.25 (Boxes of 50, $462.50) — Limited Production
In reality, the Q40 is a six-vitola release that can be best divided up into three different lines: three regular production sizes, two limited edition sizes of that same blend and a limited production size that shares little more than a name and bands.
While most of the attention went to the company’s unique Salomon Press, a cigar that features a salomon head and foot with a rectangular box-pressed center, as time has gone on the sixth vitola has seemingly gotten more attention.
It’s formally called the Quesada 40th Anniversary Corona Clasica, but oftentimes referred to as “the Manolo blend.” The nickname references Manuel “Manolo” Quesada Jr., the company’s patriarch and in many ways, the cigar is his. It’s a unique blend, created by Quesada Jr. himself and is only available at events that he attends, where it’s distributed in the form of five-packs. After that, the retailer who hosted the event has the opportunity to purchase the cigar in 50-count cabinets.
- Cigar Reviewed: Quesada 40th Corona Clasica
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Quesada Cigars
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder: Dominican Criollo
- Filler: Dominican Republic & Nicaragua
- Size: 6 1/2 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 46
- Vitola: Corona Gorda
- MSRP: $9.25 (Boxes of 50, $462.50)
- Date Released: April 30, 2014
- Number of Cigars Released: Limited Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
Visually, it’s impossible to confuse the Corona Clasica with the rest of the line. Instead of a dark coffee-colored wrapper, there’s a vibrant golden shade that most consumers would recognize as Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf. Aroma-wise, it’s pungent wet barnyard with some cocoa. Despite the use of cellophane and the tissue paper, it’s fairly faint. The foot smells like melted Hershey Kisses along with a bit of earth and sweeter woods, a decent enough array to get me interested. I’ve never dipped a brownie into a glass of whiskey, but I imagine it tastes something quite like the front end of the cold draw of this Quesada. Elsewhere, there’s some woodiness, but it’s a far cry from the unique chocolate flavor.
Finding the cold draw in the first puff does not happen. Instead, there’s a sweeter note that reminds me of twang, a hearty nuttiness and cedar and then a touch of cocoa. It tastes very Cuban, or at the very least it brings a lot of some core Cuban flavors particularly on the finish which has a lot of roasted notes, sweet cedar and faint pepper. Fortunately, the draw tightens a bit on the Corona Clasica and the smoke production picks up. An inch in and I’m picking up a great upfront sweetness, some floral notes and a short-lived pretzel flavor, while the finish has the aforementioned floral flavor along with a grassy and cedar flavor. It’s interesting, the initial flavors are full, while the finish is medium-full, a noticeable separation.
Tea becomes a dominant part of the second third, while the retrohale gets sweeter thanks to an added fruit flavor. The pepper remains acute, but relatively limited, pinpointing where it wants to hit the palate, while the floral notes fade. As if on cue, the cedar flavor begins to cut through the saltiness, adding new dimensions to both flavors that were present in the first third. While the construction remains quite familiar, the body has suddenly shot up to medium-full and the strength, which was lifeless in the first two inches, is now at medium.
This Quesada Q40 presents a significantly different final third than I could have imagined. Floral, grass and a chicken sensation are now the central points of the cigar, while the saltiness has lightened out to a potato chip flavor. This continues until the final inch, when the flavors begin to fall apart. There’s a bit of a saving grace in a vanilla bean that emerges, but it’s a far cry from the great complexity of the earlier portions of the cigar. Around the inch mark is also when it hits me, the Corona Clasica is suddenly a full strength cigar.
- At no point would I ever describe the Corona Clasica as being a “salty cigar”—as it’s never the dominant flavor, but I can’t think of a cigar that is able to display this wide of a range of salty flavors. It’s truly incredible and a fairly unique departure from most the cigars I smoke.
- I’m not sure what the current fasciation is with covering some of the cigar in tissue paper. Casa Fernández recently did it and I don’t get the appeal. It covers so much of the beauty of the wrapper and in this case, is annoying to remove given it’s twisted on tightly to the cigar.
- The cigar is an eighth of an inch from being a true corona gorda. At least the name is Corona Clasica and not just Corona.
- Quesada cannot seem to align main and secondary bands to the point where I’m starting to think that they are supposed to come off-center, which drives me a bit nuts. This happens on nearly every España I smoke.
- The ash is quite pretty. Not Quesada Jalapa Belicoso good, but very good nonetheless.
- I cannot think of a factory that I have more of a love/hate relationship with than Quesada. There are cigars that I adore—and then there are lines that I struggle to find even a few redeeming qualities flavor-wise.
- It reminds me of a philosophy from Steve Saka. He always tells people that his goal was not to make cigars that anyone liked, rather, make a few cigars someone will love and understand that in turn they are likely to not really appreciate the rest of what is produced by any one given company. His belief is that if you love a handful of cigars, you’ll seek them out more than you would a lot of cigars you simply “like.”
- While the body is medium-full, it’s a smoother version of it.
- It’s been a while since I’ve smoked a cigar that creeped up in strength like this. There was little nicotine I could find even at the two inch mark, but by the end of each sample I was smoking a cigar that was full in strength.
- Cigars for this review were given to halfwheel at the 2014 IPCPR trade show and convention.
- Quesada is an advertiser on halfwheel.
- Final smoking time is one hour and 40 minutes.
There is nothing wrong with the regular Q40 blend, it’s solid, perhaps a bit overpriced—but it’s not even close to being in the same league as the Corona Clasica. I am a bit torn. Some part of me wants to say that this should have been the regular Q40 blend. Another part of me says that if you want to make a cigar that is marketed as special and coveted then it needs to be exemplary, which this most certainly is. I think the Corona Clasica represents something Quesada has struggled at a bit—creating a medium-full cigar that can capture the finesse of some its lighter blends. In a world in which the vast majority of newer Dominican-made cigars are being more and more influenced by heavier Nicaraguan leaves, this is a refreshing example that you can make a cigar that captures the more subtle and delicate notes, while still packing a fair amount of body and nicotine.