For the last couple of years, Quesada has offered special cigars as part of the annual Procigar charity auction. Amongst them has been barberpole versions of the Quesada Reserva Privada blends, but earlier this year the company hinted to me that it would be coming out with the cigar commercially in some form or fashion.
Turns out they would, in three different sizes. Two of them were shown off at the IPCPR Convention & Trade Show last month, while another would head to Avondale, Ariz.-based Fine Ash Cigars.
It’s called the Quesada Reserva Privada Barber Pole Corona Gorda, a 5 3/4 x 48 corona gorda that combines the Reserva Privada and Reserva Privada Osucro.
That means the outside uses Ecuadorian Connecticut and Dominican criollo 98 wrappers over a special Dominican criollo binder and filler tobaccos from the San Vicente region in the Dominican Republic and ligero from Pennsylvania. What’s special about the binder–and what makes it the signature of the Reserva Privada line–is that it comes from the 1997 harvest, which was planted and picked before Manuel Quesada Sr. passed away in 1998. The company had been holding onto the tobacco in anticipation of using it in a new project, deciding a few years ago to use it as part of the Reserva Privada and later the Reserva Privada Oscuro.
- Quesada Reserva Privada Barber Pole Corona Gorda (5 3/4 x 48) — n/a — $12.95 (Boxes of 12, $155.40)
- Quesada Reserva Privada Barberpole Robusto (4 3/4 x 52) — 300 Boxes of 10 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars) — $13.60 (Boxes of 10, $136)
- Quesada Reserva Privada Barberpole Toro (5 5/8 x 54) — 300 Boxes of 10 Cigars (3,000 Total Cigars) — $14.65 (Boxes of 10, $146.50)
If this sounds a bit familiar, it’s because it is. Last year, the two companies released the Quesada Reserva Privada Fine Ash Cigars 5th Anniversary, a 6 1/2 x 46 corona extra made for the store’s fifth anniversary.
- Cigar Reviewed: Quesada Reserva Privada Barber Pole Corona Gorda
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: Quesada Cigars
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut & Dominican Criollo 98
- Binder: Dominican Criollo (1997)
- Filler: Dominican Republic (San Vicente) & Pennsylvania Ligero
- Length: 5 3/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 48
- Vitola: Corona Gorda
- MSRP: $12.95 (Boxes of 12, $155.40)
- Release Date: June 2017
- Number of Cigars Released: n/a
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
For whatever it’s worth, all three samples I smoked had the lighter wrapper on top. It’s not a traditional corona gorda as far as dimensions, both longer and thicker than the traditional 5 5/8 x 46, but it’s close enough. Aroma off the wrapper has some dry cocoa powder, leather and acidity. The foot is similar, but there’s none of the acidity I pick up from the wrapper. It’s a sweet combination of cocoa powder, Nilla wafers, something I can only describe as burnt mole, and freshly cut wood that reminds me of walking down that part of a Home Depot. The cold draw is a bit less interesting with melted chocolate ice cream and some red pepper.
It starts like the smell of a Christmas fire. There’s a lot of woodiness, some sweet cocoa, walnuts and a chewy creaminess. The combination is vibrant and leads to a plethora of mouth salivation. After about the first half inch, things have changed noticeably and there’s now earthiness alongside creaminess, freshly cut oak, white bread, and a cherry flavor that starts as more of an unripe bing cherry and ends sweet like Cheerwine. Flavor-wise, the Quesada is super smooth with a medium body and strength and a medium-full flavor intensity. Construction is great with no issues of note.
The second third of the Quesada Reserva Privada Barber Pole Corona Gorda keeps much of the creaminess of the first third, though it’s joined by a more generic woody flavor and some mixture of jalapeño and paprika. It never really loses the sweetness, but the cherries are nowhere to be found in the middle portions. Towards the end of the second third, the creaminess picks up in intensity and hides some fruitiness underneath. It’s a very delicate fruitiness that sort of reminds me of floral flavors if I don’t pay too much attention, with the stand out sensations being very sweet kiwi and lime.
An odd peanut and watered down ketchup flavor enters the nose as the final third gets going. The mouth takes another turn with pizza crust, some jalapeño salt, and anise. With an inch and a quarter left, the cherry reemerges, this time more like a Dr. Pepper. In addition, there’s a buttermilk creaminess with a touch of sourness, joined by some faint hints of apple skin and cedar. It’s not as layered as the first two thirds have been, but it certainly is both detailed and unique. Strength picks up to medium-full at the end, but otherwise the cigar is much the same, including the flawless construction.
- This cigar reminds me of Cabal in a lot of ways. It needs to be smoked on a fresh palate, not just a clean one. I certainly noticed a drop in my ability to detect flavors on the cigar I smoked during consecutive days of smoking versus the one I smoked after letting my palate rest for 48 hours. Smoking Cabal was a similar story, I thought it was good, but never understood what drew people to the cigar, until I smoked it after not smoking for a few days. Then it all made sense.
- The vibrance of the flavors was remarkable and something that is largely lost if you don’t retrohale.
- It’s unfortunately pretty rare for me to find a cigar where there are no issues construction-wise across three samples, something that happened here.
- I’ve smoked another size of the Reserva Privada Barber Pole and didn’t find it to be anywhere close to this good.
- While I don’t think anyone solely bid on the Quesada Procigar auction items for the chance to be the only person in the world with the Reserva Privada Barber Poles, I wouldn’t be thrilled to see three sizes of the cigar come out for commercial release.
- The boxes that the first batch came in are a bit spacious. When Patrick Lagreid received the cigars he thought that his box of 12 was a partial box given just how much extra room was in there with the cigars. Sam Lopez of Fine Ash Cigars told halfwheel that subsequent batches will be in slightly smaller boxes that better fit the cigars.
- Quesada advertises on halfwheel.
- Cigars for review were sent to halfwheel by Fine Ash Cigars.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 45 minutes.
- Fine Ash Cigars (623.444.7230) is the only store to purchase the Quesada Reserva Privada Barber Pole Corona Gorda.
Barber poles are in some sense inherently gimmicky. I’ve never found one where I could honestly taste the transition from wrapper to wrapper and oftentimes the blends turn out to be a less than the sum of their parts. That’s not the case with this Quesada Reserva Privada, it’s quite simply excellent, far and away the best Reserva Privada-banded cigar I’ve smoked.