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Cigar Review: Macanudo Vintage 1997 No. 5

5 Jan 2015

While there are surely exceptions, seasoned cigar smokers generally tend to steer clear of Macanudo. “America’s best-selling premium cigar” is often viewed as a gateway brand that should be dismissed for heartier, more complex creations as one graduates from occasional smoker to full-blown cigar veteran status.

Mac Vintage 1997 5That said, I believe Macanudo’s reputation is largely a result of the ultra-mild Macanudo Café line. There are seven other lines listed on General Cigar’s website—Gold Label, Robust, Vintage, Estate Reserve, Maduro, Cru Royale, and 1968—and not all of them are geared towards beginners. I also believe, in addition to the reputation, regular smokers tend to scoff at Macanudo simply because it’s made in large quantities by a huge corporation.

But it’s good to get out of your comfort zone every once in a while. So, while I admit Macanudo cigars (of any variety) can rarely be found in my humidors, today I’m going to examine the Macanudo Vintage 1997. This blend includes a Connecticut Shade wrapper from the 1997 harvest, a Mexican binder, and Dominican Piloto Cubano filler tobaccos.

Full disclosure: Online retailer Famous Smoke Shop sent me a four-pack of Vintage 1997s in the No. 5 format (5.5 x 50) to make this review possible. As always, the samples Famous provided in no way impact my assessment of the cigar.

Several things struck me about this Robusto before I lit up the first sample. First, the wrapper looks old (no surprise there). It’s marked with wrinkles, a few bumps, and it has a rustic, dry feel. Second, the foot exhibits an ultra-tight cross-section of tobacco. Finally, and inconsequentially, two of my samples had the slightest amount of filler/binder extending beyond the cut of the wrapper leaf.

Once lit, pre-light notes of sweet hay and honey transition to a toned-down profile of cedar spice, black coffee, and syrup. The resting smoke is sweet and the finish is characterized by a soft, lingering spice on the tip of the tongue. The draw is too firm for my liking, requiring significant effort to get minimal smoke production. I’d classify the body as mild-medium.

After half an inch, the draw begins to open, increasing the smoke volume and making it a little easier to detect some complexity in the flavor—including floral notes and some citrus. The final third witnesses a slight increase in intensity. Throughout, the burn line is razor sharp and the white ash holds incredibly well.

As you might expect from a cigar with a wrapper bearing over 17 years of age, the Macanudo Vintage 1997 No. 5 is not inexpensive. Famous sells 5-packs for $74.99. That’s about $15 per cigar. Ultimately, while this robusto has some good things going for it—including a milder, well-balanced profile that remains interesting—I have a hard time reconciling the cost. There are too many excellent smokes that sell for a fraction of the price.

So, after careful consideration, I believe the most appropriate score for the Vintage 1997 No. 5 is three stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

One Response to “Cigar Review: Macanudo Vintage 1997 No. 5”

  1. Reggie Monday, January 5, 2015 at 12:19 pm #

    The Macanudo name and General Cigar aside, this cigar just doesn't offer enough to justify the price. Very fair review.