One of these came down the pipe, and proved worthy of analysis. Macanudo, which is like the Heineken of cigars, makes a quality product but designs it for right at the middle of the audience, which means that their cigars lack the flair of the indie and artisan brands but rise above the average.
Their success came about after cigars became popular and dimestore brands took over, which meant that your normal citizen found himself with a Tampa Trolley in his hands, not a bad smoke but somewhat rank and dark in scent and unsubtle in flavor. Macanudo adopted the Cuban approach but did it on a grand scale using leaf from the Dominican Republic and other secondary sources.
You probably have to work very hard to be more than a mile away from a Macanudo cigar today, because they built on their popularity among middle class occasional smokers during the 1980s to become an established brand that delivers solid performance at an even buck above where they should be priced.
In other words, expect the elitists to hate these, and for them to have a point. These are well-rolled, not aged to any massive degree, and approximate the middle-of-the-road tastes of the average consumer who buys a couple sticks a month to relax after a busy day middle managing.
This got them into trouble when the late 1990s cigar boom started because people wanted tricked-out cigars with exotic flavors of wood, lymph, verdigris, creosote, boysenberry, and cephalopod. Driven away from cigarettes, they craved nicotine with cachet, which meant little labels that rolled cigars in windswept huts on the Nicaraguan coast from tobacco grown in calcium-rich soil formerly used as a Mayan ritual football field.
Over the past decade, the label has steadily bounced back by streamlining production, polishing their rolling skills, and introducing lines like their Inspirado series which brings enough idiosyncrasy to the Macanudo approach to tempt a new generation of pipe smokers raising on quirky names and exotic, often unpalatable, flavors.
Inspirado White owes some of its inspiration to the leading Connecticut, the Montecristo White, which similarly uses the lightly-fermented leaf that tastes a lot like white Burley, probably having been a similar atavism once in the Virginia seeds adapted as broadleaf in Cuba and Indonesia.
Expect a light smoke — it would be hard to hate this cigar, although purists and brand elitists will find it boring — with lots of sweet lightly fermented tobacco flavor. You can taste the briefest edge of the vegetal, telling you that this leaf did not age for long, and undertones of cinnamon and white pepper as tend to emerge from this type of leaf, as well as a gentle flavor like vanilla.
Following the pattern of other Macanudo cigars, these are not tightly rolled, so just about anyone can smoke one without it going out when they take a golf swing or change the channel, and has the faint buttery taste of sun-cured leaf that may have been partially flue-cured. Not substantially oily, these cigars leave a pleasant vanilla aftertaste and exude smoke with the mouthfeel of a light spring breeze.
These smoke quickly owing to the lighter roll and burn evenly, showing the attention to quality control. As one might expect, they fall right in the middle of the road with a slight twist in their nod to white cigars of the past, and deliver an entirely reasonable smoke at a buck extra thanks to the brand status.