In early 2015, Quesada Cigars announced a special cigar release, a limited edition product that would arrive in a select few shops across the country, each location receiving 6 total boxes. The cigar is none other than the Quesada Reserva Privada, a blend that Manuel Quesada himself has been quoted as “The best blend of my life.” This is quite the statement, coming from one of the most talented cigar blenders in the industry!
But when you begin to understand the time, patience, skill, and maybe even luck that went into Reserva Privada, it’s quickly apparent where the high praise is attributed. The story begins in 1997, when the Quesada family produced an unusual, near-perfect harvest of San Vicente tobacco—we’re talking the magnum opus of tobacco crops! Luckily, Manuel is a smart man, and rather than roll the prized tobacco, the leaves were carefully aged for future use—hoping for a more grandiose project to suit the leaves of this caliber.
Flash forward to 2013, Manuel’s daughters and nephew, Terence Reilly, have taken the brand into the 21st century—positioning Quesada as an old school brand with a twist for the modern smoker. With their prodding, the rare ’97 crops were brought out of storage to begin experimenting for the ideal blend. Eventually, a balance was struck, using a delicate Connecticut shade wrapper contrasted by a powerful Pennsylvania ligero leaf in the filler, sandwiching the precious ’97 San Vincente leaves. The cigars were then rolled and aged for an additional year, allowing the various tobaccos of wildly different strengths and vintages to meld together—totaling out at 18 years worth of aged tobaccos!
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Quesada Reserva Privada Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
- Binder: Dominican San Vincente (1997 Vintage)
- Filler: Dominican San Vicente (1997 Vintage selected from Cosecha Pareja crops) | Pennsylvania Ligero
- Factory: Quesada Cigars (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Limited edition/Small batch (Produced according to demand while ’97 vintage tobacco remains)
- Vitola: 4¾” x 52 Robusto
- Price: $12.95
As you’d expect, the cigars are limited in availability, they were slowly rolled out to more and more retailers throughout the year, increasing dramatically after the 2015 IPCPR show. When Terence Reilly appeared on Smoke Night Live, he estimated the vintage tobaccos to last between 3 and 5 years, depending on demand in the market.
The cigars have been rolled in 3 sizes, all having hefty ring gauges between 52 and 56. The bands are Quesada’s best to date, with their recognizable “Quesada leaf” logo surrounded by the words “Quesada” and “Reserva” repeating on either side. The band is printed with a hologram effect, similar to what you’ll find on a Behike cigar, with additional security measures on the box as well. The box is solid and fairly luxurious, but surprisingly doesn’t fit the 10 cigars quite right, being just a little loose.
The cigars themselves are very impressive, with a clean, smooth wrapper and very little imperfections—no soft spots, having a nice springy construction. The size feels very nice, a short robusto with some heft to it—not dainty but also not obnoxious (thinking of you, 60 ring gauges…). On the nose there is honey, barnyard hay, and cream.
The cigar starts with a nice, easy draw—maybe even too loose, if I’m being picky. The flavors are mellow, light, and sweet, having a zesty spice in the retrohale. While the overall experience is creamy and sweet, there isn’t an overabundance of complexity at this point—I can easily detect black tea, sweet honey, and a base of fresh bread.
Not long after, around the half-inch mark, the cigar ramps up! I thought to myself, “This is the sweet spot,” but the smoke would eventually prove me wrong. The tea flavor becomes more of a green tea, with light notes of caramel and an extremely long, sweet finish of vanilla and amaretto. All of this is perfectly balanced by that powerful kick of Pennsylvania ligero! (just as advertised…). Of course, this isn’t to say it’s an overly strong cigar, just not your standard Connecticut.
The cigar continues to transition—there seems to be no end to the combination of flavors, never jumping around sporadically, but moving smoothly within its boundary. Even the draw is more preferable now, it’s medium loose and seems to be working well for the smoke. On the palate, the flavors are buttered toast, nutmeg, cinnamon, tea, and floral elements—this is contrasted with a cold nicotine strength in the retro. Actually, the retro is very interesting, with a bubbly punch, similar to burping through the nose after a sip of cream soda (and that marks the Dojo’s strangest flavor comparison of all time… you’re welcome). This smoke has lots of unique characteristics if you know where to look, from my many tastings, I also came across notes of cashews, aged tobacco, and creamy coffee—a complex smoke to say the least.
Would I smoke this cigar again?
Well… yes! This is easily a box-purchase cigar, multiple box-purchase if you’re like me and the flavors are in your wheelhouse. Between the 3 sizes, it’s a tossup between the Robusto and Toro, as the Robusto seems to have more enjoyable and complex flavors, but also suffers from a very quick burn. Best case scenario is to buy both (which is feasible, as they’re only 10-count boxes). Originally these were fairly difficult to find, but Quesada has done a good job keeping Reserva Privada on retailer’s shelves following the IPCPR show. Now we can only hope Terence was right about the San Vincente tobaccos lasting 5 years.
- High complexity
- Superb balance of strength & refinement
- Quick burner
- Low smoke output