As much as I appreciate the creativity and craftsmanship that go into small “boutique” blended cigars, I can only imagine what blenders in small-time chinchales would do with the tobacco that General Cigar has at its disposal.
The huge libraries of leaf that large cigar manufacturers have available for blending not only gives blenders the opportunity to work with a wide-ranging palette of flavors, it also allows them to blend cigars that are consistent from year to year. While a veteran cigar smoker at his wife’s brother’s bachelor party is probably going to re-gift that present of a Macanudo, at least he knows that this year’s Mac is not going to be any different from last year’s Mac.
And that can be a very good thing, if last’s years Macanudo is what you’re game for.
But General has started to take the fun out of ribbing the Macanudo brand. The 1997 Vintage Maduro had crusty old ligero junkies taking a second look at the band, and the Macanudo Cru Royale seems to be doing the same.
Benji Menendez and Francisco Rodriguez have chosen an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper for the Macanudo Cru, along with a binder from General’s Vega Especial in the Dominican Republic. (This is the same binder used on the Partagas Black.) The filler blend is a combination of viso leaves from the Dominican and Nicaragua, bolstered by some Brazilian mata fina.
Four sizes are in production:
Lonsdale – 6.5 x 42
Robusto – 5 x 50
Toro – 6 x 54
Gigante – 6 x 60
The Macanudo Cru Royale could easily be mistaken for a maduro cigar. Not only is the wrapper leaf dark enough, it’s also rough enough to pass for Connecticut broadleaf. The head of the cigar is rounded, in typical Macanudo fashion, but the leaf is so thick that it looks more like the tip of a blackened sausage than the mild-mannered Macanudo we know and (sometimes) love. This leaf has clearly been chosen for reasons beyond the aesthetic.
But who needs looks with a personality like this? The roll is solid, the draw spot-on, and it burns without a second thought. Even the ash is attractive. What’s not to love?
The Cru Royale looks like a maduro, and it smokes like one too. The soft aroma of sweet chocolate wafts up from the foot of the cigar almost before it is lit. The flavors on the palate are somewhat dry, and surprisingly spicy — not Nicaraguan puro spicy, but certainly spicier than what you’d expect from a Macanudo.
After an inch or two the sweet savor of the chocolate turns noticeably sharper and more complex than the standard maduro. There is a note of hardwood and a mild acidic bite.
The coffee and cocoa bean flavors slowly turn to coffee at the cigar’s conclusion, and it finishes with some pepper on the tongue. Not enough to be called rough, but it’s not exactly creamy either.
The Macanudo Cru Royale is surprisingly aggressive for a Macanudo, but it stays well within the medium-body range and won’t challenge most delicate palates. Rookies graduating to medium-bodied cigars will enjoy the complexity of this smoke, and it won’t knock ’em out.
I want to compare this cigar to the Macanudo Maduro Vintage 1997, but I’m not sure that is fair. The Cru Royale is considerably less expensive — in the 5 to 6 USD range — and is more of a standard line cigar. But they both came out at around the same time, so I can’t help myself. Not surprisingly, the Cru Royale is not as rich or complex as the Vintage ’97. But it’s still a very interesting cigar, especially for a Mac.