Macanudo Cafe & Maduro Gigantes

Macanudo is reportedly the best-selling premium cigar brand in the United States; it therefore needs no introduction. Just about everyone who has smoked a cigar has smoked a Mac — it’s a mild cigar with a classic Connecticut shade wrapper, and it’s a great one to give to a virgin smoker who is curious about the lure of the leaf.

There are well over two dozen frontmarks of the Cafe blend alone, not to mention the several other blends that fall under the Macanudo umbrella. Recent blends such as the Macanudo 1968 and the Vintage 1997 have surprised grizzled veterans with their flavor and strength, showing us that Macanudo is not always synonymous with mild.

These are the original mild-mannered cigars that so many know so well, but in a new format. (Yet another frontmark. It occurs to me that an average-sized cigar shop housing all of the Macanudo blends and sizes would have no room left for any other brand.) Super large ring gauges are finding followers and selling well, so it’s no surprise that General Cigar is responding to the demand with the new Gigante frontmark.

The Cafe blend is the classic Mac, possibly the most consistently made cigar on the planet — a Connecticut Shade wrapper, a Mexican binder from San Andres, and filler from the DR and Mexico. The Maduro substitutes a Connecticut Broadleaf wrapper for the Shade.

Construction Notes

Both cigars are well made with rounded Cullman heads. (Edgar Cullman, Sr, who died last year at the age of 93, was the man who made Macanudo into the best-selling brand it is. He and some investors bought General Cigar in 1961, and a few years later they acquired a small Jamaican factory called Temple Hall where an unknown cigar called Macanudo was made. The rounded head on the Macanudo, and now many other cigars, is named for Mr. Cullman.)

The draw, burn, and consistency of the Macanudo Cafe and maduro brands is beyond reproach. If you’ve ever smoked one that didn’t burn well, leave a comment, because I have yet to hear from anyone of a construction defect in this cigar. It must have happened some time — it’s a hand made product, but it’s remarkably consistent.

Overall excellent construction.

Tasting Notes

The Macanudo Cafe is a mild cigar with flavors that are typical of Dominican and Mexican tobacco — the base flavor is nutty with a little bit of astringency, just enough to work the salivary glands a bit. The Maduro version is somewhat sweeter. The broadleaf wrapper disguises the tartness a little more effectively than the shade wrapper does.

There isn’t much transition from the beginning of this smoke to the end, but this is normal for very mild cigars. The Cafe does get a little more tart at the end, and the Maduro picks up some char, but mostly what you get out of this cigar is a mild-mannered vehicle for a couple of great wrapper leaves. The aroma is what makes this cigar noteworthy — the soft floral creaminess of the Cafe, and bittersweet chocolate from the Maduro.

Though I’m not a regular smoker of this brand, the Gigante appears to be a little more flavorful than the robusto size. I’m not a big fan of the chunkster cigar trend either, but the amplified flavors in these Mac biggies were a welcome surprise. (My thanks to General Cigar for the samples, by the way.)

Conclusion

These are the same Macanudos that a lot of us started on, just in bigger sizes. And because they are so mild, the bigger size seems to be less of an extravagance than it does in many other blends.  Mild cigar aficionados will definitely want to try these out, but don’t look for any big surprises. These are the same consistent smokes that they’ve been for many years now. MSRP is in the $6-7 USD range.

Final Score: 86

Advertisements

Carlos Torano Master BFC

Large ring gauge cigars have always been popular, at least as long as I can remember, but it’s only recently that the gargantuan ring gauges — 60 or more — have caught on. I reviewed the Toraño Master Torpedo at the end of last year, but since then this 6 x 60 monster has been released. I shy away from super huge ring gauges, but since the Master is a fairly mellow fellow I thought I’d give it a shot. Here are the basics:

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
  • Binder: Nicaraguan (Esteli)
  • Filler: Nicaraguan (Esteli and Jalapa)

BFC stands for Breakfast For Cigarfan. Okay, maybe not. But I do think this is a fantastic morning smoke — smooth, flavorful, and easy going.

Construction Notes

The wrapper is a dark golden brown with a nice sheen, and the cigar is perfectly rolled. Gazing at the cut face after clipping, it looks like it could be packed too firmly, but a pre-light test draw dispels that impression. It draws quite easily and despite its girth it lights easily as well. The ash is solid and the burn is slow, as it should be when a cigar has a nearly one-inch diameter.

The only issue I had was the wrapper cracking, but I suspect this may be due to shipping and rapid humidity changes. I haven’t had this problem with the Master in other sizes.

Tasting Notes

Up front there is a nice melding of cocoa and cedar. The wrapper on this cigar has excellent aromatic qualities, resulting in a complex of mild spices on the nose. The woody core of the cigar is typical of milder Nicaraguan blends. There is also a honey-like sweetness in the mix.

The BFC shows some development as it enters the middle section, though it isn’t very dramatic. The cedar on the nose is still present but is bolstered by bean flavors — cocoa and coffee with cream.

This oversized nice guy skates into the last lap with some caramel on the palate and lots of mellow medium-bodied smoke. The honey flavors from the first section linger and blend well with the cocoa and coffee, though the sweetness has more of a caramel than a honey character in the final inch.

Conclusion

The basic characteristics of the Master BFC are the same as the other sizes that I’ve tried — this is a smooth and medium-bodied cigar with a complex aroma. Like the Torpedo, this one reminds me a lot of Toraño’s super-premium Noventa, the difference being a little more body and a little less complexity. (And of course, a lower MSRP.) If anything, the Master BFC seems even smoother than the Torpedo, which is pretty buttery to begin with.

This blend is really starting to grow on me, but I will probably opt for the smaller ring gauges in the future. On the other hand, if you dig the big boys and smoke in the medium-body range, you’ll have to check this one out. The very reasonable price might be the deciding factor here: 6 to 7 USD. That’s a lot of cigar for seven bucks.


Final Score: 90