Like many cigar smokers today, I can fondly remember my first cigar—a Macanudo that my father gave me on our first road trip together. Somewhere between Chicago and the Smoky Mountains (befitting), a gas station humidor pickup opened a whole new world for me. That was June 18th, 1992. Macanudo was still made in Jamaica back then, but other than the country of origin, not much has changed for that particular café au lait-hued, green-banded classic. The cigar industry has changed immensely from that time, however, and therein lies a challenge for General’s (parent company) flagship brand in the modern cigar arena. The evolving landscape of tobacco growing, processing, and cigar manufacturing has led to ever-increasing styles, with smoker’s palates evolving accordingly. How, then, to stay relevant, without losing one’s roots?
The Macanudo brand itself has been around for 50 years, and in the last few years, they’ve introduced the Inspirado line (orange, white, and black) to offer a more modern take on the iconic name; the goal being too appeal to the contemporary cigar smoker. Ushering in a slew of updates to Macanudo for 2018 (coinciding with the brand’s 50th anniversary celebrations) is the Inspirado Red—the fourth cigar in the quickly-growing series.
Macanudo Inspirado Red Robusto Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Ligero
- Binder: Jalapa (Nicaragua)
- Ometepe (Nicaragua | 12-year-aged )
- Jamastran (Honduras | 10-year-aged)
- Estelí (Nicaragua | 5-year-aged)
- Factory: STG Estelí (Nicaragua)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 5″ × 50 (Robusto)
- Price: $6.49 (MSRP)
Dressed in Ecuadoran Habano ligero and blended with rarefied tobaccos including twelve-year aged Nicaraguan Ometepe, ten-year aged Honduran Jamastran and five-year-aged Nicaraguan Esteli, Macanudo Inspirado Red has a hearty Nicaraguan Jalapa binder. Enticing notes of pepper and spice reign, transcending the experience of Central American tobaccos to the point of sublime.
In my opinion, the blend of tobaccos does sound great. I’ve been looking forward to another standout cigar boasting Ometepe-grown tobacco—being one of the lesser-used regions of Nicaragua, yet displaying some of the country’s most unique flavors.
This particular review cigar has a nice square press and a clean double cap, while a couple of other samples have shown uneven seams that are slightly curled at the edges. For a pressed cigar, this is surprisingly dense and hefty and lacks the squishy spots that can be common in box-pressed cigars. The rough-to-the-touch wrapper features uneven coloration, ranging from “cinnamon stick brown” to nearly black in some spots—each sample sparkling with oil. It is a rustic cigar with an elegant press.
The band, well, it’s the same as the other Inspirado bands, only red. It features some of the design elements of the classic Macanudo band in such a way that makes it look like cheap clip art. I’m not a fan. For a cigar that is to celebrate 50 years of the brand, you’d think they could’ve done better.
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I generally tend to prefer a V-cut with box-pressed cigars, as they typically seem to have a more open draw and don’t disturb the cigar’s pressed shape. Considering the dense filler with these, the cigar still performed well with a V-cut, despite one sample having a slightly tight cold draw that opened up nicely after lighting. The wrapper smells of cinnamon and chile peppers, while the foot and cold draw don’t give much except some generic tobacco and sweetness.
The first third starts with a mixture of à la carte flavors. There’s a spice that is really only a factor in the retrohale. This is joined by an espresso sweetness on the tip of the tongue. And that’s kind of it, at least to begin. My first sample had a great deal more spiciness than this particular smoke, which gives this one a better balance, but I’m still waiting here for these flavors to kick into gear and begin to work together. It’s a pretty flat beginning. The burn line is perfect, and the ash is solid and stacked. The cigar’s crawling first third takes 30 minutes, registering as medium in flavor, strength, body.
More flavors begin to join the fold moving into the second third, including cocoa and a charred cedar. These attributes directly follow the first really interesting flavor thus far, that being a combination of yeasty, creamy, tangy, and sweetness; a combination that reminds me of sourdough toast soaked in butter, with honey and bright pops of sea salt. My overall impression thus far is that the flavors only want to come alive, but they don’t quite get there. Notes of I-don’t-know-what-that-was-but-it-seemed-like-it-would’ve-been-good send cryptic messages to my tongue, disappearing before I can decipher them. Smoke output is great, but the smoke itself is uncharacteristically thin, weak, and somewhat acrid, with really no lingering finish whatsoever aside from the honey-like sweetness. A hint of marzipan shows up near the end of the second third, but it’s quickly overridden by a soon-to-be-dominant cedar flavor.
There’s cedar, coffee, cocoa, marzipan, and more cedar in the dry, thin, flat smoke of the final third. Toffee/caramel sweetness shows up and, again, it seems like this cigar wants to get up and be somebody, but then decides that it’s fine just hanging around the house playing video games and smoking weed (yes, the cigar itself is smoking a joint in this bizarre metaphor—you’re welcome). The smoke has a really nice aroma—a positive assessment pulled from an otherwise monotonous experience. Even in the retrohale, there’s practically no additional sensations to report. At one point, I mistakenly think the cigar is about to get interesting, when roasted coffee beans and burnt sugar take the wheel, but they simply mashed the gas pedal to the floor and sped off, gone from the scene…
Nearing the end, the toffee and almonds and cocoa give it a fleeting moment of Heath-bar greatness, but cedar notes are quick to knock it all down like a mean toddler during “building time” at daycare. Rather than doing something productive—being a part of the blend—and being rewarded with praise, cedar is content to smash everything else and have all the attention for itself. The spice, mostly gone since the first third, comes back in sensation (not in flavor) with one inch remaining.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
Probably not. All the buzzwords from the marketing material turned into a buzzkill of non-delivery. Considering the cigar was released as the company’s 50th anniversary offering, it really just felt like they tried to cram everything into the cigar, ticking all the boxes of “what’s hot right now.” This cigar was a dud, for me. And it’s not like I’m hating on Macanudo; you’ll remember a few months back I had the pleasure of reviewing the Macanudo Inspirado White, which I thought was truly excellent. This, however, just completely misses the mark, which is only made worse by the missed opportunity to do something really special to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the biggest cigar brands in the United States, if not the world.
- Flavor: Medium-Light
- Strength: Medium-Light
- Body: Medium-Light
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 27 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: Amstel Light, water, Diet Dr. Pepper
- Purchase Recommendation: Try 1
- Approachable Nicaraguan character for mild cigar smokers
- The box-pressed shape is attractive and burned flawlessly
- Has no "soul"
- Assortment of flavors that never cohesively work together
- Tremendous missed opportunity to truly celebrate 50 years