Last month, Quesada Cigars announced the 2016 edition of the Quesada Keg. The Quesada Keg is a line that was introduced in 2015 as a limited edition release. It is a cigar that is meant to be enjoyed with a traditional Irish Stout beverage coinciding with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. When the line made its debut last year, it was introduced in one size and packaged in a container that looked like a wooden keg. This year, the Toro size returns – along with two new sizes. While the wooden kegs, return, both the keg container and the bands on the cigars got a makeover. Recently I’ve had a chance to sample the Quesada Keg 2016 in the Toro Gordo vitola. Overall I found this 6 x 60 offering to be a great representation of this blend, and a very enjoyable cigar overall.
The Quesada Keg isn’t the first cigar made by Quesada that is meant to pair with a malt liquor. For the past five years, Quesada has had an annual release Quesada Oktoberfest – a cigar designed to be enjoyed with a traditional marzen beer. In addition to the Quesada Keg being a completely different blend from the Oktoberfest, there is also one other significant difference – namely it is made at the Plasencia factory in Nicaragua as opposed to the Quesada factory in the Dominican Republic. While Quesada’s Casa Magna brand is made at Plasencia, the Keg is the first Quesada branded cigar to be made outside the Dominican Republic.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Quesada Keg 2016 Toro Gordo and see what this cigar brings to the table:
The Quesada Keg 2016 features the same blend as last year’s edition, but with a different vintage of tobacco.
Wrapper: Pennsylvania Broadleaf
Country of Origin: Nicaragua (Placencia SA)
As mentioned the Quesada Keg expands the vitolas in the line to three. All three are packaged in the same size kegs, but the counts vary depending on the vitola size. A total of 1,000 kegs between the three sizes have been produced.
Lonsdale: 6 x 44 (30 Count Kegs)
Toro: 6 x 50 (21 Count Kegs)
Toro Gordo: 6 x 60 (16 Count Kegs)
The Pennsylvania Broadleaf wrapper of the Quesada Keg 2016 Toro Gordo has a dark chocolate brown color to it. Upon closer examination, some darker marbling can be seen. The wrapper has a slight amount of oil on the surface. Last year I found the wrapper of the Quesada Keg 2015 to be a little rugged and bumpy. While there are some visible veins and visible wrapper seams, I found the Quesada Keg 2016 to have a smoother surface than the 2015 edition.
The band to the Quesada Keg 2016 has been completely overhauled from the 2015 edition. The 2016 edition now has more of a look of a beer label. On the front of the band is a pale yellow oval shaped field with gold trim. All of the font on the oval field is brown in color. On the center of the field is the text “QUESADA KEG”. Just below that text is the text “IMPORTED” in small font. Just above the “QUESADA KEG” text is the Quesada “Q” logo. To the left of that logo is the text “19” and to the right is the text “74” (representing the year Quesada Cigars was founded). At the top of the band is the text “PREMIUM CIGAR” arranged in a curved fashion. On the bottom of the band is that text “ESTELI NICARAGUA” arranged in a curved fashion. The left and right side of the band has a a black background with gold trim. The left side has the text “HAND MADE” in a pale-colored font while the right side has the text “ESTELI NICARAGUA” – also in pale-colored font.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
Prior to lighting the Quesada Keg 2016 Toro Gordo, I went with my usual choice of a straight cut to remove the cap. After clipping the cap, I moved on to the pre-light draw experience. The dry draw provided notes of earth, a slight cedar spice, and a little bit of malt stout bitterness. I did question myself on detecting the malt stout note and whether or not the power of suggestion was in play here – however I will stand by that assessment. Overall I considered this to be a satisfactory pre-light draw experience. At this point I was ready to light up my Quesada Keg 2016 Toro Gordo and see what the smoking experience would have in store.
Right out of the gate, the Quesada Keg 2016 Toro Gordo delivered a very unique combination of earth, mineral, and citrus notes. In the background I also picked up some dark chocolate and white pepper notes. The combination of all of these notes made the Keg 2016 a cigar that I could easily see pairing with a dark stout.While the white pepper was a secondary note on the tongue, it was prominent on the retro-hale.
During the first third of the Quesada Keg 2016 Toro Gordo, I found the earth notes had the edge. The mineral and citrus notes were close secondary notes. The dark chocolate varied in intensity as well. The white pepper was grounded a little further in the background.
During the second third, the earth, mineral, and citrus remained as primary notes. By this stage, these three notes were pretty close in intensity. The chocolate notes were still present in the background. When the Quesada Keg 2016 Toro Gordo entered the second half, the pepper spices ramped up on both the tongue and retro-hale.
By the last third, I found the pepper made its way into the forefront. It would dominate the flavor profile with the mineral and earth notes. The citrus notes diminished into the background with the chocolate notes. This is the way the cigar experience remained until the end. The resulting nub was of the Quesada Keg 2016 was cool in temperature and slightly soft to the touch.
Burn and Draw
The burn to the Quesada Keg 2016 Toro Gordo maintained a straight burn path from start to finish. The burn line did have some curvature. While it required some touch-ups to keep the burn line straight, I didn’t find the Quesada Keg 2016 Toro Gordo to need an excessive amount of touch-ups. The resulting ash had a salt and pepper color to it. This wasn’t an overly firm ash, but it was not a loose one either. For a big ring gauge, this cigar had excellent combustion – delivering an ideal burn rate and ideal burn temperature.
I found the draw to the Quesada Keg 2016 Toro Gordo to perform very well. This was an open draw, but not a loose one. I found the open draw worked perfect with this Toro Gordo and made deriving flavors from the cigar to be low maintenance.
Strength and Body
One big difference I noticed with the three vitolas of the Quesada Keg 2016 is that they seemed bolder than last year. I found the Toro Gordo to start out medium to full strength and medium to full-bodied. Both attributes increased gradually and by the final third, I found both the strength and body to be in full territory. Overall I found the strength and body balanced each other nicely with neither attribute having the edge over the other.
Looking at the three vitolas introduced with the Quesada Keg 2016, I found this cigar to deliver a very different experience than the 2015 edition. In a nutshell, I found this the 2016 edition to be a bolder, more robust, and more complex cigar. Flavor-wise, while there were some parallels to the 2015 edition, yet I did find some differences to make the Quesada Keg 2016 tell its own story. However the biggest surprise came with the biggest vitola, the Toro Gordo. I found this size to be the standout size of the three vitolas of the Quesada Keg 2016.
Overall since this was a bolder smoke, the Quesada Keg 2016 Toro Gordo is one that I would probably one I’d gear to a more experienced cigar enthusiast. As for myself, this is a cigar I’d smoke again, and it’s one worthy of a box / keg split.
Strength: Medium to Full (1st 2/3), Full (Last Third)
Body: Medium to Full (1st 2/3), Full (Last Third)
Assessment: 3.5-Box Split
News: Quesada Keg 2016 to Feature Expanded Line
Source: Cigars Provided by Manufacturer
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Would love to score these! Might get a buddy to do a keg split… but how do we figure out who gets the keg????