When a cigar brand possesses within its arsenal a Master Blender, backed with statistics of Cuban emigration, a family heritage of more than a century in the tobacco industry, and over forty years experience in premium cigar craftsmanship, it is imperative that said brand showcase that Master Blender’s unique talents at every given opportunity. In the case of Quesada Cigars, the opportunity has presented itself with Master Blender Manuel “Manolo” Quesada, Jr.’s 70th birthday on April 10, 2017 (born in 1947).
Those enthusiasts with a keen perception could’ve predicted such a celebratory release, but for the rest of us, rumblings of the Manuel Quesada 70th cigar began making their rounds in February of this year. The cigars made soft-launch appearances at cigar events such as The Great Smoke 2017 and the annual Procigar Festival in the Dominican Republic. At events such as these, brand runner (and cousin to Manuel Quesada) Terence Reilly has given presentations to help cigar enthusiasts truly understand the magnitude of Manolo’s impressive 70 years:
Manuel Quesada 70th Belicoso Breakdown
- Wrapper: Dominican (Cuban Seed)
- Binder: Dominican (Sumatra Seed)
- Filler: Nicaraguan | Dominican
- Factory: Quesada Cigars (Dominican Republic)
- Production: Limited Edition (1,000 boxes of 10 cigars per size)
- Vitola: 6″ × 52 Belicoso
- Price: $12.95 (MSRP)
Apart from the attendees of exclusive events such as those mentioned above, the cigars were released in small quantities to select retailers in late February, eventually being fully released in March.
For fans of Quesada Cigars, the Manuel Quesada 70th will have a familiar ring to it, as the brand introduced the Quesada 40th Anniversary cigars only three years prior. This is because the 40th cigars were crafted to commemorate Manuel’s 40 years in the industry, whereas the 70th honors his birthday. Unlike the Quesada 40th, however, Manuel Quesada 70th has been blended by Manuel himself, in an effort to satisfy his ideal palate (Quesada 40th Anniversary cigar were blended for Manuel by his daughters).
For this special blend, Manuel unlocks the keys to the Quesada family’s vast collection of tobaccos; showcasing a primarily Dominican blend, balanced by a touch of Nicaraguan tobacco in the filler. The wrapper is Cuban-seed Dominican and the binder Sumatra-seed Dominican. The cigars are shipped in only two sizes (6″ × 52 Belicoso & 6″× 50 Toro)—both using similar dimensions to showcase the ideal experience for this special, anniversary blend.
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The Manuel Quesada 70th introduces a new look for Quesada, offering a much more decorative, ornate, and intricate display of the family’s name—front and center on the cigar’s bands and box artwork. The new Quesada design is preceded by a vintage-style banner, reading “MANUEL” and followed by a western-style “70” in bold font weight. The bands utilize thick, textured paper and rich, gold foil, contrasted against a satin black—it is a successfully luxurious look that I can confidently declare as Quesada’s best design to date. This artwork was crafted by the same artist that Quesada used for their recent Fonseca Nicaragua—offering a much more intricate feel compared to the brand’s usual simplistic leaf design.
The cigar itself begins with a Russet leather hue, having a subtle orange color underneath the primary tones of rich, medium to dark browns. The wrapper has an intricate web of faint, oily veins. Between the fingers, the cigar gives an oily, silky feel and a slight squeeze affirms a solid construction. The cigar is capped with a belicoso-style head—looking slightly sharper than your standard belicoso, yet more rotund than a full-fledged torpedo. All things told, the look/feel is quite impressive—not knowing the price, I could easily see this being a $20+ cigar, based on looks alone.
On the nose, the wrapper has a clean aroma with a faint musk note. The filler aroma is a little stronger, giving a decent dose of floral qualities. Pre-light drawing offers more flowers and some cedar notes—with a medium-firm resistance.
From first light, it’s quickly evident that MQ 70 is a complex creature, showcasing delicate nuances of toasted wood, nut shells, and leather. The smoke can be completely exhaled through the nostrils—differing from the spicy blast through the retrohale at most cigar’s beginnings. The smoke output is on the lighter side of medium; however, it offers a sticky, pasty texture that makes for a longer finish and a stick-to-your-ribs experience that really lets you know it’s there!
A near-perfect burn performs a sudden one-eighty, requiring decent touchups at the half-inch and one-inch marks. This is the only true criticism thus far—with poor smoke output and canoeing burn lines coming in sudden and sporadic bursts.
On the flavor side, MQ 70 is magnificent, showcasing endless complexities. It is somewhat difficult to sum it all up, as the flavors seem to hit every angle of the palate; much in the same way you’ll find with many Cubans. The cigar manages to offer a contrasting experience, with dark and robust notes (toasted nuts and leather), delivered through a delicate, light, and clean overall impression. It’s the subtle touches that add to the overall profile, such as a bright and salty sensation from the raw tobacco against the tongue. The smoke is best enjoyed through the retrohale, begging the smoker to retain each puff within the back of the nostrils and even upper throat (occasional, slight inhales are advised) for a moment or two longer than you’re accustomed to—soaking up every morsel of flavor within the smoke’s inherent oils.
MQ 70 does require fairly frequent puffs to keep the smoke flowing. This occasionally amounts to overheating, producing darker flavors that aren’t entirely unsavory: dark chocolate, anise, a cold, menthol-like sensation, and a touch of harshness. With touchups, though, flavors come springing back from the dead, turning simplistic notes like dark chocolate into a more tangible experience of a Milky Way Midnight Dark chocolate candy bar.
Past the halfway point and beyond, flavors come in the form of toffee, honey, and flowers; eventually transitioning to charred wood, anise, various chocolates, marshmallow sweetness, and (eventually) dark and ashy harshness.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Despite the burn issues, this is an easy “YES!”
There’s simply too many nooks and crannies of intricate complexities for the palate to uncover not to smoke this again! As craft cigar junkies, we are constantly in search of new flavor experiences—it’s what keeps the hobby fun and adventurous. For this reason, the MQ 70 is worth more than a single purchase, as it’ll keep providing additional nuances for the palate to uncover on each session—not to mention the anticipated aging potential from the cigar’s robust and premium-grade tobaccos.
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: San Pellegrino water, Oolong tea, old cuban cocktail, amber ale
- Purchase Recommendation: 5-pack (or full box for aging)
- Ultimate complexity
- Bright & salty sensation of raw tobacco on tongue
- Pasty "stick to your ribs" smoke texture
- Multiple touchups
- Requires frequent puffing
- Short smoking time (for cigar's price)