Quesada Serie Limitada 35th Anniversary

Up for review this week is one of the latest creations of Matasa, the Quesada 35th Anniversary. As the name implies, this special, limited edition cigar commemorates Matasa’s 35 years in the cigar business. But the really interesting story is how the cigar was made. Manolo Quesada, the founder of Matasa and man responsible for the popular Casa Magna line did not participate in the blending of this cigar. That was by design. This cigar was created exclusively by the 5th generation of the Quesada family to mark the milestone. And in fact, when the final blend was being voted on, Manolo was reportedly allowed to vote, but was ultimately overruled. The cigar comes in a single size, a box-pressed toro, 6 x 49.

I heard rumors about the 35th Anniversary at the IPCPR trade show (reportedly it sold out in the first day and a half), but I didn’t actually see or smoke one until my recent visit to New York. It just so happened these were just hitting the shop that week, and I was excited to try it out. My experience with it was mostly positive, so I decided to buy more for a later review. That time is now, let’s light it up!

Cigar Stats:
Size: 6 x 49
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Arapiraca
Binder: Dominican Criollo-98
Filler: Dominican Republic Havana Vuelta Arriba Ligero, Nicaragua Ligero
Smoking Time: 2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: MSRP $11.95

The Pre-Smoke
The Quesada 35th Anniversary is a very attractive looking cigar, decorated in not one, not two, but three elegant silver, gold and black bands. Two near the head, and one at the foot. And somehow the cigar pulls off the band blitz without looking gaudy. The wrapper beneath the bands is equally attractive, a dark, oily reddish brown with few visible veins, and no obvious imperfections.

The cigars were firm to the touch, and only slightly lumpy. The wrapper scent was a mild, but funky compost, but the foot had a more pronounced rich chocolate aroma. The cold taste had a dusty chocolate flavor.

The Burn
Unfortunately, the performance of the Quesada 35th Anniversary in the burn department left a lot to be desired. In the best of cases, the cigar required several touch ups, and in the worst, the concern wasn’t correcting the seriously uneven burn line, but keeping the cigar lit. I had to relight one of the cigars I smoked for this review no fewer than six times, four of these were in middle third of the stick.

After smoking the worst offender, I suspected the cigars were simply too wet. I almost never dry box cigars, but I gave the remainder a day’s rest in an unhumidified cedar box. This did result in fewer relights and generally better experiences with consequent sticks. (The cigar photographed for the Tower of Burn was one of these cigars.)

On the positive side, each cigar’s draw was perfect, and between re-lights, the ash was light, attractive and solid.

The Flavor
The first third was a rich combination of coffee, nuts and little bit of chocolate, with coffee being the dominant flavor. Saying simply “coffee” sells it short though, it was a mixture of coffee beans, black coffee and sweeter cafe con leche flavors. There was also a grittiness to the mouth feel, that I didn’t care for, but that didn’t take too much away from my enjoyment of the flavor.

Coffee continued to play a part in the flavor profile during the second third, but not as big a role. Dark and bittersweet chocolates, along with a smoother cocoa were more prominent. Nutty flavors began to reappear past the half way point, as did a bit of sharp tasting cedar.

The final third was introduced by a buttery nutty flavor with a little bite of cedar. There were also elements of creamy cocoa and coffee as the cigar neared its conclusion.

The Price
For a special limited release cigar, the price isn’t surprising. And while a bit higher than I generally pay for the cigars I smoke, it wasn’t a significant deterrent.

The Verdict
Ordinarily a cigar’s burn issues aren’t enough for me to give a stick a thumbs down, especially when it doesn’t involve a bad draw. But in this case, the cigar was so high maintenance, it had me wondering at one point if I was smoking a cigar, or just playing with my lighter.

In spite of the seemingly constant relights and touch-ups, the cigar did prove to have a great flavor profile, but I just didn’t have the opportunity to fully enjoy it. Matasa has a great blend here, and I’d love to love it, especially with a good cup of coffee, if only I could keep it burning. I won’t say I disliked the Quesada 35th Anniversary, but I probably won’t be buying more and I can’t wholeheartedly recommend it either. As always, the choice is yours as to whether or not to try one. If you’re in the camp that thinks flavor trumps everything, you should try this cigar. If you’re one who can’t abide a bad burn, there’s nothing to see here.

Liked It: Enjoyed the flavor, but put off by significant burn problems
Buy It Again: Unlikely
Recommend It: Depends

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.