Review: Casa Magna Colorado
Everyone loves a trip to their local humidor because if you’re like me and hate window shopping, you KNOW you’re coming home with some goodies. Does anyone actually window shop cigars? Anyway, the humidor I visited is a small, convenient place to get some favorites. If I wanted to peruse a wider variety and maybe plop down in a lounge, I’ll visit one of the larger more established locations that isn’t so convenient.
My goal was to get maybe 5 sticks, but somehow I always manage to get ten or eleven. You know how it is. I ended up with maybe eight or nine cigars and stupidly started looking for something new to try. Back in the corner of the small, walk-in humidor I saw the name “Casa Magna”. I’d either recently overheard someone sharing their bromance over this cigar and read a brief write-up. I thought to myself, ”hmmm, only seven bucks…”
I vaguely recalled the label, liked the look and with a ‘meh’, I grabbed a belicoso (the only vitola they stocked apparently), stuffed it into my baggie and headed for the casa. Once home, I did a little research and realized, ‘wow, I’m really late to the table.’ Again. The accolades and glowing articles gushed from my laptop one after another.
Number 1 cigar of 2008…numero xxx 2009…2010…ad infinitum. Let me tell you the next couple of weeks were brutal as I waited. And waited. Even though I enjoyed several great cigars during this time, I couldn’t get my mind off that Casa Magna. Finally, Wednesday rolled around and nuffs enuff…date night for my puro and I.
This lauded puro, steeped in honors, was crafted by the master blender, Manuel (“Manolo” to his friends) Quesada. The gentleman of cigars. The Quesada family’s tobacco origins date back to the 1880s in Cuba, but the current generation of Quesada genius really got started in 1974 in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Celebrating over 40 years, beginning with their company, Manufactura de Tabacos S.A. (Matasa), Manuel Quesada, his brother and his father, Manual Sr., kicked things off with “…$100, a chair and a phone.”
This was a huge risk as the Dominican Republic was still a tobacco backwater in some respects. The Quesada family were focused on brands like Fonseca, Cubita and Nat Sherman and then the cigar boom hit in the 80s and 90s. The proliferation of brands, sizes and strengths dropped on the market like an H-bomb and demand skyrocketed. Faced with a massive decision to either ride the wave of “smash and grab” and gouge cigar prices or keep to their business plan, keep prices low and stick around a while, the Quesadas shrewdly opted for the marathon, not the sprint.
Quality over price. While this “right is might” attitude worked for a while during the “boom or bust” phenomena, the Quesada family has seen its share of hard times, including personal tragedy. Now operating as Quesada Cigars, you can still find the venerable Fonseca brand along with new Casa Magna, Quesada and Regius brands still made with the same passion and unflinching demand for quality that has come to symbolize the Quesada name.
- Profile: Medium-Full
- Vitola: Belicoso
- Length / Ring Gauge: 6.25″/ 54
- Purchased: Local Humidor
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Nicaragua Cuban-seed Colorado Ligero
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Cutter: Xikar XO
- Lighter: Colibri Firebird 3-jet
- Price Range: $6.50 – $8
The belicoso and torpedo vitolas are my favorites as the conical shaped head is more enticing – the quintessential cigar. The Casa Magna, rolled in Nestor Plasencia’s factory, has an eye-catching embossed gold foil band emblazoned with the brand, coins and a simple red ribbon reflecting the cigar’s wrapper – Colorado. The wrapper is a sumptuous marbled chocolate color, slightly veiny and almost invisible seams, including the cap.
She’s packed and wrapped as tight as a set of Spanx on a washed-up starlet. The wonderful aromas from the wrapper included hay, tea and chocolate. The foot aromas were a sweet, spiced apple. It took three, quarter inch cuts to get the draw just right which allowed for a delicious palette of spiced apple and dark chocolate.
The initial draws took my breath away with a rich, smooth complexity. This was beyond unique. This was special. During the initial third, the well-blended notes of hay, toasted nuts, a light pepper and baking spice danced on my tongue. There is a slight malty profile lingering in the background with just a hint of ginger. The finish is a creamy coffee flavor that is out of this world. Cigarvana. The combustion is even and the char line is dead on.
The middle third started with a dud, thanks to my Quesada-induced daydreaming and the Magna went out. After the relight, she offered a bit more strength and body as the earthy notes begin to kick in. There is notes of oak nicely balanced with the baking spice. The finish is toasty which continues into the final third. Burn is still great and char line dead on.
The final third features a full-bodied earthy profile with lots of oak. The spice is excellent and the toasty finish never gets old. This is not overpowering as the balance is so good and it never gets harsh or chalky. The Magna has been nothing but smooth and tasty. The burn and combustion are superb and other than the relight due to my boyish wandering into la-la-land, I can’t think of anything that wasn’t delightful.
Every aspect of this cigar is thoroughly enjoyable from its aesthetics and cold aromas to the feel of the wrapper and the flavor palette. With a 93 rating and Cigar of the Year honors from Cigar Aficionado in 2008, I’m about 9 years late. No matter, I still got to experience it. If this is what the CA staff experienced, this speaks volumes to the quality and consistency of this brand.
Like a well-kept secret, hidden in the back of a humidor, fate would lend me a hand indeed. I cannot believe such deliciousness could exist for under $8. This could easily sell for $15 or even $20, and you know what, I’d still buy a box. Or three. Quesada wasn’t kidding. Their focus is on quality, flavor and consistency without resorting to a quick price grab because they certainly could. Its nice to learn that such character is alive and well in the cigar industry and business in general. A quality I admire and prize. Thank you Manolo! – In Fumo Pax!