CA Panel Cigar Review - Quesada Reserva Privada
The Quesada Reserva Privada Cigars Back Story
It all started with the Dominican San Vincente fillers that were planted by Manuel Quesada Sr. in 1997, shortly before his death in 1998. When it came time to harvest them, Manuel's son and the current president of Quesada Cigars, Manuel "Manolo" Quesada, Jr., noticed that the plants were virtually even in height, and their mid-priming leaves were consistent in size and shape. Manolo called this rare phenomenon, "cosecha pareja," or "even harvest," and pending a project that never came to fruition, the crop was set aside for 18 years, baled in palm bark (a traditional Cuban method of storing tobacco). That is, until Manolo's daughters, Patricia and Raquel, suggested they finally put it to good use. Upon blending this very aged tobacco with some Pennsylvania ligero, a Dominican Criollo binder, and a buttery-smooth Connecticut wrapper grown in Ecuador, the result was the Quesada Reserva Privada, which today stands as a tribute to the 5th generation of the Quesada family.
To see what the panel thought of this Quesada super premium, watch the video now, or skip below and read out tasting notes - and leave a comment.
The Stats - Quesada Reserva Privada 5 5/8 x 54
Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: 5 5/8" x 54
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut
Filler: 1997 Dominican San Vicente, Pennsylvania Ligero
Binder: Dominican Criollo
Presentation: Limited Edition boxes of 10 cigars
Fred Lunt's Tasting Notes...
Construction and Overall Appearance: Very well made, no soft spots. The Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper gives the cigar a veiny, almost dark yellow hue with an attractive oily shine.
Draw: Very smooth, easy pull and draw
Pre-light flavor: popcorn, bread, and a hint of leather
Toasting & Light: Peppery upfront, rich leather with a slight earthiness and a subtle taste of bread
Base flavors: Pepper and leather
Aroma: Sweet, rich tobacco
Burn / Ash Quality: Very even burn - tight and dark grey ash. Held the flavor very well.
Balance of flavors: Hints of pepper remained in the background as the cigar transitioned in the second and even into the last third.
First third started with a fair amount of pepper, not overpowering but a nice balance with the full body power. There was a strong, sweet tobacco background with subtle hints of earthiness and vanilla. Aptly named, "cosecha pareja" by Manny Quesada, Jr. This cigar was extremely well constructed and had a nice even burn throughout.
This particular cigar has certainly earned raves with an impeccable construction and a nice even burn that continued from start to finish. The natural, Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper gave it a sweet bread-like aroma with strong rich tobacco. The pre-light draw was a smooth some notes of leather and earthiness.
Upon lighting, the Quesada Reserva started with a bang of peppery spice which was maintained on the front stage from start to finish. Other notes detected were sweet spice, vanilla, and leather. This is one meaty stick, full-bodied yet not overly complex. The peppery spice led the way as one of the main flavors in the profile. The transition to the second third was slight, with some of the earthiness giving way to a richer-tasting leather flavor. The final third opened this cigar’s creaminess and the ever-present sweet-spice.
A great cigar if you like a full body. Pair this with a hearty steak and a glass of rye to wash it down.
Gary Korb's Tasting Notes...
Construction and Overall Appearance: Excellent all around.
Draw (airflow): Excellent.
Pre-light flavor (cold draw): Grassy and herbal.
First few puffs: Herbal and creamy with a lightly sweet, leathery note.
Base flavors: Herbal spice, cedar, caramel, earth, and pepper.
Burn / Ash Quality: Perfect. Even as it gets with a slim black carbon line. Ash is mostly grey with some black stripes, and semi-firm, ashing to a nice cone shape.
Balance of flavors: Excellent.
- The herbal component in each puff reminds me of the Cuban Romeo y Julieta "Wide Churchill."
- Cigar was consistent in flavor, complexity and strength throughout.
- Peppery notes were much more apparent in the final third. My baseline cigar, smoked a day earlier, had much more pepper than the cigar I smoked on camera.
- Extremely smooth and perfectly balanced.
Every so often I discover what I call, "a perfect cigar," and my latest discovery is the Quesada Reserva Privada 5 5/8 X 54 in the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper.
Starting off creamy and mellow, the Reserva Privada offers a distinctive herbal-floral note that I noticed in the pre-light. This enjoyable floral element continues throughout the smoke and reminded me of the Cuban Romeo "Wide Churchill" I smoked recently. The base notes are essentially light earth, sweet wood, caramel, and spice, with an occasional note of pepper lingering on the palate – mostly in the last third.
This cigar's predominant smoothness comes from the 1997 Dominican San Vicente that had almost 18 years of aging when first rolled, while the heartier Pennsylvania ligero gives the smoke its punch, making for a well-balanced mix with just the right amount of sweetness. As for the Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, its color, buttery texture, and flawless appearance also reminded me of the better Cuban cigars.
Pairing it with my usual coffee (w/cream & sugar) turned out to be a great combination, yet, I'm curious to see how well it will pair with a reputable 12-year-aged single malt.
Although it's smooth and mellow enough for newer cigar smokers, experienced cigar smokers who can appreciate the subtleties of the Quesada Reserva Privada Connecticut will likely get a lot more out of it. At about $14 a pop at retail, it's not the cheapest cigar in the rack, but if your curiosity's been piqued, go for it; it's worth the price.
A wide array of mellow "Dominican"-type flavors in this Quesada super-premium, coupled with a mild-medium amount of strength, makes this Dominican very approachable pretty much any time of the day. Click the box to learn more.
John Pullo's Tasting Notes...
Construction and Overall Appearance: If you’ve ever heard a wrapper described as “silky,” it looks like the Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf on this cigar. Just beautiful - only a few veins, with the uniform color of caramel. The cap construction holds together well, even after I cut one of my cigars a little too deep.
Draw: Draw is excellent, only slightly loose – allows for a good, full puff.
Pre-light flavor: Some interesting cold draw flavors here…very mellow tobacco, typical of that Dominican profile; there’s also hay, grass, and a malty sensation, kind of like when you stick your nose into a glass of whiskey.
Toasting & Light: The Quesada Reserva Privada makes for an easy toast, and an easy light.
Base flavors: Caramel is the base note here, complemented by a diverse mix of mellow and earthy sensations like tea…cedar…nuttiness…there’s a slight spice, like a cinnamon, then pepper comes in and ratatatat-tap dances all over your taste buds.
Retrohale: It’s a pepper-free, very flowery retrohale, and it opens up like a wine would after some time in the glass.
Aroma: There is a floral aroma to the Reserva Privada, along with mellow woody notes that are almost fruity – similar to the sensation you get when you walk into a room, just after someone peeled an orange.
Burn / Ash Quality: Nice burn line on this cigar with a dark grey ash. Others found this to be a relatively quick burner; I was able to get one of these to last the better part of 2 hours.
Consistency: There is a consistency in the cigar’s strength and intensity of flavors, all of which come and go in a very balanced fashion.
This is one of Manuel Quesada’s best, and it looks the part. Impeccable construction, prominent flavors and smokes with a long, cool finish. Great with coffee, and the medium body of this cigar makes this a great any-time-of-day stick. There’s an Oscuro version of this cigar that really pins the needle – full body, flavor, everything – a real flamethrower. But this Connecticut wrapper version? It's a complex treat.
The Reserva Privada is Quesada’s most premium cigar yet; everyone raved about this cigar when it came out a year and a half ago, then it flew under the radar - so we figured it was time to put it to the test. A true small batch because of the 1997-vintage tobaccos inside, you can make big rips of smooth, creamy smoke out of this cigar from start to finish. Supposedly there’s a good amount of ligero in there, but there’s nothing heady or bitter about it.
Bordering on super-premium territory (it is a $12+ stick, after all), this is a showcase Dominican cigar that I think will really appeal to those who have even a modest epicurean streak: an appreciation for finding umami in food, and who take an interest in how wines taste different after they age. It’s also going to deliver a great smoking experience to anyone who’s deep into the legacy and tradition of cigar making – which I think is a very respectable trait you share with Manolo Quesada.
If that sounds even remotely like you, then you gotta try it.
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Tommy Zman's Tasting Notes...
Construction and Overall Appearance: Smooth as silk
Draw (airflow): Excellent
Base flavors: Sweet cedar, caramel, cinnamon, black pepper
Aroma: Sweet & Inviting
Burn / Ash Quality: Solid
If you’re not familiar with the Quesada brand, well it’s time you two became friends. Remember the Casa Magna, the number one cigar from a few years back? Yeah, that’s Quesada… as is Fonseca and the super-tasty Oktoberfest. These people flat-out make great smokes and the Reserva Privada has actually kicked things up a notch - or three.
This is a super-premium smoke, and that’s what happens when you take tobacco that’s been aging for 18 full years then wrap a gorgeous, silky smooth Ecuadorian Connecticut leaf around it. Let’s just say that this cigar is smoother than Lou Rawls eating a bowl of Butter Cream Haagen-Dazs in a bed covered in silk sheets. And that is pretty damned smooth, people. While it has a mellow creaminess to it, this stick is definitely not mild, but instead full of very tasty flavors.
Right off the bat you’re hit with a delicious sweetness with definitive notes of cedar, caramel and cinnamon – not overpowering by any means, but flavors that gently caress the taste buds with a wonderful complexity. When you get about halfway through a hint of black pepper sets in to finish things off.
This is just a beautiful smoke – impeccably rolled with a flawless burn, solid ash and sweet aroma. And while I used the term “super-premium” it’s not in the price range of the high-end Padrón's or Davidoffs. Trust me, my friends, the Reserva Privada is a “must-try.”
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