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For one of its new domestic releases this year, General Cigar Co. unveiled a pair of new additions to its storied Macanudo line: the Macanudo Inspirado White and the Macanudo Inspirado Black.

As you might infer, the Black is the stronger of the two blends, using a dark Connecticut broadleaf wrapper over an Ecuadorian Sumatra binder and fillers from the Estelí region of Nicaragua. The White is a bit milder, with an Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, Indonesian binder, and fillers from Mexico’s San Andrés region and Nicaragua’s Condega region. Both promise to deliver a profile that is much different from that of the core Macanudo offerings.

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While 2017 was the stateside debut of the Macanudo Inspirado Black, the name was first seen in Europe in the fall of 2015 at the Inter-tabac trade fair in Dortmund, Germany. While it shared the name, that cigar was a different blend and had a different look; it used a habano seed wrapper grown in the Connecticut River Valley by the Thrall family exclusively for STG. The binder was also a proprietary leaf, known as vega especial from the Dominican Republic. The filler included Dominican olor and piloto cubano along with Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco.

It was also offered in two different sizes, Gordito (4 1/2 x 54) and Cañozano (5 3/4 x 52), while the new version for the U.S. market comes in three vitolas.

  • Macanudo Inspirado Black Robusto (4 7/8 x 48) — $6.99 (Boxes of 20, $139.80)
  • Macanudo Inspirado Black Toro (5 7/8 x 54) — $7.49 (Boxes of 20, $149.80)
  • Macanudo Inspirado Black Churchill (7 x 48) — $7.99 (Boxes of 20, $159.80)

  • Cigar Reviewed: Macanudo Inspirado Black Robusto
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: General Cigar Dominicana
  • Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Binder: Ecuadorian Sumatra
  • Filler: Nicaragua (Estelí)
  • Length: 4 7/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 48
  • Vitola: Robusto
  • MSRP: $6.99 (Boxes of 20, $139.80)
  • Release Date: July 2017
  • Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Even though it’s just an eighth of an inch shorter and a ring gauge thinner than what I would call a standard robusto—a 5 x 50—the Macanudo Inspirado Black Robusto feels downright petit and slender in my hand. It’s a firm, dense cigar, offering little if any give, with a good roll quality and caps that could merit some pointers but not quite criticism. A thick, dark, and mottled leaf covers the cigar, rich with texture and glazed with just a bit of oil. Other than of the dark leaves on the Partagas Black, this is one of the darker leaves I can recall from the company. The foot is quite nondescript in aromas, not even offering a generic tobacco scent on two samples, with the third reluctantly offering the berry sweetness common to Connecticut broadleaf. The cold draw on each sample is tight but workable, offering a very subtle but thick grape sweetness and tree bark before drying out and clamming up on flavors.

Any concerns I had about the draw of the first sample were alleviated with my first puffs, as air moves well through the cigar and produces a sufficient amount of smoke. Flavor is a bit lacking, and at times I struggle to get anything from the cigar other than a bit of pepper through the nose. At its best, the cigar shows a somewhat sweet peppery profile in the first inch, though I can’t detach my mind from the thinness of the smoke’s body, at least as it crosses the palate, with a tight draw in the second sample compounding my issues with trying to enjoy it. It’s much fuller and more rewarding through the nose, offering good pepper and thickness without being overpowering. After the first clump of ash comes off, the cigar nudges forward in pepper and body a bit more, though it seems relegated almost completely to the nose, as my tongue gets little more than a grazing of pepper and a very generic tobacco flavor.

Little changes in the Macanudo Inspirado Black as it enters its second third, which has me struggling to come up with descriptors and thankful I don’t have column inches to fill as in the newspaper or magazine business. The draw on the second and third samples stay tight and were it not for this review, I would have cut my losses and tossed it in the ashtray, but instead I snip off a bit more of the head and get a much more open air flow. The profile picks up a bit more of a campfire note in the retrohale as it approaches its midpoint, with pepper increasing as well; the smoke could still use a bit more fullness and complexity on the tongue, but it’s serviceable. The third sample shows the fullest profile of the three, and while there isn’t much flavor complexity, it at least engages—or should I say fools—the tongue by the thickness and body of the smoke.

I still find myself clamoring for some specific flavors from the Macanudo Inspirado Black as it begins its final third; while there’s nothing off-putting about it, I struggle to find something to dive into and savor beyond a very bland, generic smoke. I still get a bit of sweetness reminiscent of grape or dark berry jelly, with pepper sprinkled in at about the same levels at it has been throughout the cigar. By the time the band needs to be slid off, the cigar seems to have finally awoken, though it is the retrohales driving most of the experience, with the palate complementing it with a bit of lightly charred steak. The sweetness fights for a spot and does a good job finding one in the final two inches, with the parting flavors both enjoyable and forcing me to wonder why they’d taken so long to finally arrive.

Final Notes

  • The 4 7/8 x 50 size is actually a traditional Cuban robusto size.
  • Charlie Minato covered the General Cigar Co. booth at the 2017 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show, where this cigar was released.
  • He also reviewed one of the original Macanudo Inspirado releases, the Diplomat, in May 2015.
  • The smoke on the second sample was particularly stinging in the final third of the cigar; it was a breezier day when I smoked it and when it got blown into my eye, it elicited a sharp response.
  • To get what I would call a workable draw, I had to cut two of the three samples twice, and lower than I prefer. I don’t want to imagine what the draw would be like with a punch cut.
  • Not that it has any effect on the cigar or its score, I was surprised to see the band on the first sample applied rather unevenly. The other two were fine, however.
  • I’m not sure whether or not to be surprised by the low nicotine levels; given that there wasn’t much in the way of flavor I’m not that surprised, though the pepper had me thinking there’d be more. Either way, nice to finish up a cigar without feeling like I got punched in the gut.
  • The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time was one hour and 30 minutes on average.
  • Site sponsors JR Cigar, Payless Cigars & Pipes, Corona Cigar Co., and Atlantic Cigar carry the Macanudo Inspirado Black.
76 Overall Score

I don't smoke a lot of Macanudos, so I have a hard time telling you just how different the Inspirado Black is from the core line. It tries to be fuller bodied, succeeds with pepper but little else, save for some broadleaf sweetness that makes way too few appearances. This is an approachable cigar in that unless you are highly pepper-averse it won't offer much in the way of bold flavors, though for someone looking for a profile to dive into, this has the depth of a backyard kiddie pool. The tight draw didn't help anything, though fortunately it was the only technical aspect I can fault; the cigar burns well and produces plenty of smoke. I would have loved for this profile to break through the Macanudo stereotype, much like I thought the Macanudo 1968 did when it came out several years ago, but other than offering a bit more fullness and pepper, it doesn't do much to stand out.

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About the author

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.

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