Connecticut shade-wrapped blends are not exactly rare in the world of cigars; in fact, the wrapper is currently being grown in most of of the major cigar tobacco regions around the world, including the U.S., the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras and Nicaragua. However, there is one country that grows a lot of tobacco but is hardly known for its Connecticut shade tobacco: Brazil.

Although it is far from unheard of to grow Connecticut shade tobacco in the Latin-American country—Villiger launched the Villiger do Brasil Claro which uses a Brazilian Connecticut shade wrapper last year—it is also far from the norm, which made the announcement of General Cigar Co.’s newest addition to its Inspirado line that much more notable.

In April, General announced the Macanudo Inspirado Brazilian Shade, a brand new limited edition incorporating the aforementioned Connecticut shade wrapper grown in Bahia, Brazil covering a Mexican San Andrés binder and four different filler tobaccos: Brazilian mata fina; cubita grown in Mao, Dominican Republic; piloto cubano from the Dominican Republic; and Nicaraguan leaves grown in the Jalapa region. The new blend is offered in two different vitolas packaged in boxes of 10, with total production limited to 2,000 boxes of the Toro and 1,500 of the Brazilian Shade Churchill.

“Macanudo Inspirado Brazilian Shade required a significant investment in agronomy, spanning Central and South America,” said Steve Abbot, senior brand manager for Macanudo, in a press release. “This blend speaks to the lengths that we as a brand will go to in order to bring excitement to premium cigar smokers, and we’re confident that cigar lovers will be drawn to the singular experience this blend delivers.”

There are currently two vitolas in the Inspirado Brazilian Shade line:

  • Macanudo Inspirado Brazilian Shade Toro (6 1/4 x 52) — $10.49 (Box of 10, $104.90) — 2,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
  • Macanudo Inspirado Brazilian Shade Churchill (7 x 48) — $10.99 (Box of 10, $109.90) — 1,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (15,000 Total Cigars)

  • Cigar Reviewed: Macanudo Inspirado Brazilian Shade Toro
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: General Cigar Dominicana
  • Wrapper: Brazil (Connecticut Shade)
  • Binder: Mexico (San Andrés)
  • Filler: Brazil (Mata Fina), Dominican Republic (Cubita & Piloto Cubano) & Nicaragua (Jalapa)
  • Length: 6 1/4 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 52
  • Vitola: Toro Extra
  • MSRP: $10.49 (Box of 10, $104.90)
  • Release Date: May 2021
  • Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3

Covered in a light brown wrapper, the Macanudo Inspirado Brazilian Shade is relatively smooth to the touch, albeit with plenty of bumps and veins present. There are multiple small spots where the wrapper is slightly damaged—more on that below in the Final Notes—and the cigar is nicely firm when squeezed. The aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong barnyard, sweet earth and creamy leather, while the foot brings aromas of almonds, cinnamon and slight floral flavors. Finally, the cold draw provides flavors of strong fresh hay, more leather, cedar, cocoa nibs and dark chocolate, along with a touch of floral.

Starting out, the profile of the Macanudo Inspirado Brazilian Shade is obviously creamy on the palate, with main flavors of fresh hay and cedar seemingly pulled directly from the cold draw, followed by lesser notes of leather tack, espresso bitterness, cocoa nibs, peanuts, earth and slight vegetal flit in and out. On the retrohale, there is a small bit of both white pepper and honey sweetness that seems like it would make a much more dramatic impact if they were stronger, while the finish features a small amount of roasted coffee beans. Construction-wise, the Macanudo is giving me no major issues so far, with an excellent draw, plenty of dense, off-white smoke and a burn line that—while not even close to razor sharp—is not nearly bad enough to correct. Body is on the light side of medium while the strength starts out quite mild but creeps a bit closer to the medium mark before the end of the first third.

Although the combination of fresh hay and cedar retains the top spot in the profile during the second third, there are some other significant changes, starting with the fact that the overt creaminess from the first third has started to wane dramatically. There are also some new secondary flavors—specifically anise and a touch of floral—that combine nicely with the already existing notes of peanuts, earth, cocoa nibs and leather, while the white pepper and honey on the retrohale, unfortunately, remain at about the same fairly low level. In terms of construction, both the draw and the smoke production continue to impress, but the draw becomes problematic enough to need a quick correction. Strength-wise, the cigar manages to increase enough to hit a point under the medium by the end of the second third but seems to stall out there for the time being.

Unfortunately, the final third of the Inspirado Brazilian Shade features very little change compared to the preceding third, with the same hay and cedar combination easily besting the competition. Additional secondary notes include more earth, anise, peanuts, cocoa nibs, leather and slightly more floral flavors, while the honey sweetness and white pepper combination hold steady on the retrohale. Thankfully, the burn line has improved dramatically—meaning I don’t have to use my lighter again—while the draw and smoke production continue along their excellent paths. Finally, the strength in the Macanudo increases slightly, but only enough to barely the medium mark by the time I put the nub down with a little more than an inch left.

Final Notes

  • Interestingly, Connecticut shade is actually a variation of Sumatra tobacco and was first grown in the late 1890s or early 1900s.
  • Unlike how sparkling wine can only be labeled Champagne if it originates from the region of Champagne, France, there is no regulation that requires manufacturers or growers to grow the tobacco in Connecticut in order to call it “Connecticut shade.”

  • Be warned, the wrapper on these cigars is very, very fragile. Each of my samples had many multiple small knicks all over the cigar that were easily visible due to how dark the binder is compared to the cover leaf. While these did not cause any significant issues with my cigars in terms of construction, it is something you should be aware of from the start.
  • Construction was extremely good for two of the three samples, both only need a single touch-up each. However, the final cigar I smoked was a different animal, as I ended up needing my torch a total of five times.
  • General Cigar Co. advertises on halfwheel.
  • The cigars for this review were sent to halfwheel by General Cigar Co.
  • Final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 39 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Macanudo Inspirado Brazilian Shade, site sponsor Famous Smoke Shop has them in stock.
85 Overall Score

I have always been a fan of trying cigars that incorporate unique tobacco, and the Brazilian-grown Connecticut shade wrapped Macanudo Inspirado Brazilian Shade certainly qualifies in that regard. Although the profile starts out nicely with distinct flavors of fresh hay and cedar, it did not change much by the end of the cigar, and while there is some white pepper and honey sweetness on the retrohale, neither are ever strong enough to make a significant impact. In the end, the Macanudo Inspirado Brazilian Shade is easily enjoyable enough to recommend trying—both in terms of flavor profile and uniqueness—but I would absolutely smoke a couple before springing for a box.

Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.