Macanudo Cafe Lords

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Don’t laugh. It’s only a Macanudo, the best selling cigar in America. The reasons for this are many — tradition, consistency, perhaps the mediocrity of the common denominator — but the fact of the matter is that if cigars were running for office, you’d be looking at the President. So I thought I better check it out.

Macanudo has a Jamaican history with British roots that today is a paragon of mild Dominican cigars. The first Macanudo was actually a Cuban Punch that was made in Jamaica. During World War II the British wanted to keep as much of their hard currency contained within British holdings as they could, so trading with Cuba was out. As a British possession Jamaica was open for trade, so some Cuban cigar makers went to Jamaica where they made cigars using Havana leaf for the English market. And so the first Macanudo was born as a frontmark for a Fernando Palacios Punch.

Its English roots are also born out in the names for the various sizes of Macanudo — Duke of Wellington, Prince of Wales, Tudor, Hyde Park, etc. In fact it was the Duke of Windsor who is credited with bringing the term “macanudo” back with him from a polo trip to Argentina. The word is Argentine slang for “excellent” or “cool.” It’s a somewhat dated term, but it’s still in use, and from what I can tell it is generally used to describe people, so I think “cool” is probably the closest translation for American English. For the past few years “Macanudo” has also been a very popular comic strip by the cartoonist Liniers that appears in the Argentine newspaper La Nacion.

“Clear Havanas” made with Cuban tobacco already in the U.S. at the time of the embargo were available for sale throughout the early 60’s, but by the late 60’s and 70’s it was getting increasingly more difficult to find premium cigars in the U.S. The few that were around were Jamaican, like Royal Jamaica and Montecruz. So around this time, General Cigar bought the Temple Hall factory in Jamaica and with it the U.S. rights to the Macanudo name. Part of the reason for the success of Macanudo is that they were one of the few premiums in production at the time — they built on the name by producing quality premium smokes and became a standard for the industry as one of the few players in the premium game.

In 1971 General introduced Macaduno to the American public, and for years it held its own as a classic Jamaican cigar. As time went on, however, the Dominican cigar industry began to lure companies away from Jamaica with its quality tobacco and lower cost of labor. Gradually the production of Macanudos was transitioned to the Dominican Republic, with only a few larger sizes being made in Jamaica as recently as 2000, when Jamaican production stopped. Today it is an entirely Dominican made cigar.

The wrapper is key to a Mac: it’s a classic Connecticut Shade, but it undergoes a journey before it crowns the cigar. After harvesting in Connecticut the wrapper leaf is fermented over the winter. Then it is packed up and shipped to the DR where is is fermented a little more. Then it goes back to Connecticut again, for a second “winter sweat.” Finally, it returns to the DR where it is unpacked and mixed with wrapper from the previous year’s harvest and fermented one last time. This must be at least partially the reason for Macanudo’s legendary consistency, as well as the fine taste and aroma of the final product.

At long last the cigar is finally rolled, using a binder from Mexico’s San Andres valley and filler from the DR (piloto cubano) and Mexico. There are over twenty sizes to choose from. This is the 4 3/4 x 49 robusto sized Lords.

I have to say this is a very nice mild cigar. Like many mild-bodied cigars with Connecticut wrappers, I usually admire the aroma more than anything else, and that is the case here as well. It starts up with a toasty, nutty flavor and a beautifully sweet aroma. The flavor is somewhat grassy at times, a little papery at others, but never objectionable. It’s a very clean smoking cigar with very little aftertaste (though some would say, with very little taste either.) The construction was spot on — perfect draw, even burn, the works. It burned a little hot after the mid-point, but I can’t rule out operator error there. I tend to hotbox mild cigars.

I guess there really isn’t too much in a Mac to hold my interest over the long term, but I can see keeping a few of these on hand to give to new smokers. It’s a quality mild-bodied cigar that won’t send neophytes scurrying for the restroom, and at around 3 or 4 bucks a stick they’re reasonably priced as well.

And now that I’ve done my duty as a good cigar citizen and “fair and balanced” stogie analyst, I believe it’s time for something a little stronger.  Lemme see here… that mean looking Partagas Black has my attention. It may get more of my attention here shortly…

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