Beginning back in 2011, Quesada introduced the cigar world to their interpretation of the perfect pairing for the Märzen-style beer, aka Oktoberfest. This, the annual release of the Quesada Oktoberfest, has since become a tradition for many cigar/beer enthusiasts, a sign that fall has arrived.

In 2015 Quesada upped the ante, applying their masterful pairing skills to a different sort—the Irish Stout. As with Oktoberfest, the cigars were released in conjunction with a major “beer drinker’s holiday”, in this case, St. Patrick’s Day. At the time, the cigars were released as a simple limited edition, but after proving their popularity, they’ve since returned for 2016.

While the original release was only offered in a single, toro size, this year’s release introduces two new vitolas—Lonsdale and Toro Gordo. Quesada has also kept the pricing the same, with the smaller Lonsdale coming in a bit cheeper and the Toro Gordo a bit more costly than the base Toro size.

Click images below for full resolution

Quesada Keg Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf
  • Binder: Nicaraguan
  • Filler: Nicaraguan
  • Factory: Plasencia Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Limited edition/seasonal (250 jars of 30 lonsdale cigars – 22,000 cigars between all sizes)
  • Vitola: 6″ x 44 lonsdale
  • Price: $5.95

Fans of the original will be pleased to know it’s the same blend as the first release, featuring a hefty Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper over Nicaraguan fillers and being made at the highly-esteemed Plasencia factory in Estelí. What is new, however, is a complete rebranding of the product (thank you!). Yes, the cigars still arrive in wooden “kegs”, but Quesada has ditched the playful, colorful design of 2015’s release for a much more attractive and authentic feel. The wooden keg in which the cigars arrive has been toned down a few shades to offer a near-black appearance. The cigars have been re-banded, with a look you’ll find instantly recognizable, one that will match your Guinness stout quite nicely!

Aside from the much-welcomed aesthetic changes, the cigars themselves have a nice look. The wrapper is broadleaf and there’s no denying it—dark and mottled shades of various chocolate hues run down the cigar—at its darkest, it is nearly black. Though it is surprisingly not toothy, veiny, or gnarled, as you’ll often see. It’s very clean for a broadleaf, having tight seams and a good, solid-feeling roll. On the nose, there are aromas of earth, manure, and dark chocolate.

Smoking Experience

With a cut, the cigar shows a slightly tight cold draw, complete with notes of mint chocolate candy. The cigar toasts quickly and reveals a slightly better draw than expected, though it’s still on the firm side. The profile is subtle, not blasting your sinuses with the usual spice intensity, but showing a smooth and restrained approach. This is actually quite refreshing, as so many maduros of this caliber seem to fall into the same profile of strong, pepper spice bombs.

The cigar is primarily smooth and restrained, but subtle nuances eventually make themselves known in the form of baking spices in the retrohale, aromatic bitters, caramel, and malt on the finish.



Quesada Keg 2016 smoking cigar review

Beverage Pairing
This is where the Keg really shines, as you might expect. What I love is that Quesada didn’t simply take a maduro and say, “Good enough, maduro pairs with stout, case closed.” No, this feels well-articulated and intentional. The Keg and Guinness (Extra Stout, in my case) have very similar qualities—neither are as full-bodied as their style suggests, both offering a more subtle and smooth approach. Of course, the Guinness showcases lots of roasted malts, with caramel, burnt coffee, dark chocolate, and that distinct bitterness (you know the one). The cigar has many of the same traits, and when paired side by side, there is an added creamy, vanilla sweetness to the smoke. It is nothing jaw-dropping or boundary-pushing, but simply a great pair that just feels right.

Quesada Keg 2016 and Guinness beer pairing

There is an interesting combination of rugged, woodsy flavors around the two-thirds area of the smoke, it’s like a strangely attractive profile of leather, must, and sawdust—it reminds me of the smell of my grandpa’s old garage (that’s a good thing!). But soon these aspects are replaced by sweeter notes of clove, nutmeg, molasses, and vanilla cream. Most of these qualities ride with the smoke until the end, finishing out with roasted malt and caramel taking the lead once more.

Would I smoke this cigar again?

Sure would. At the price, I’d even consider snagging a full keg, which is saying something, as I’m not the biggest maduro cheerleader. It’s not that the cigars are groundbreaking, but simply that they are a fantastic value, coupled with a smooth and enjoyable smoking experience that showed no foul or unwanted flavors throughout. Add on top of that a stellar construction and we’ve amounted at a cigar that I could pair with a nice, mellow stout on near-any night of the week—especially to start off a night of multiple cigars.

Quesada Keg 2016 lonsdale cigar review and rating

Quesada Keg 2016
Quesada Keg executes exactly as promised. Here you will find an extremely affordable smoke that delivers pleasant and enjoyable flavors in a subdued, medium-bodied profile. Grab your favorite Irish Stout and this will compliment it perfectly.
Appearance91%
Burn/Construction97%
Draw83%
Flavor87%
Complexity78%
Price/Value100%
Pros
  • Great construction
  • Well-executed - pairs amazingly well with Irish Stout
  • Superb value/price point
Cons
  • Tight draw
  • Not complex
89%St. Paddy's Pairing
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
90%