2018 CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to Punch Cigars

2018 CA Report: The Essential Cigar Advisor Guide to Punch Cigars

Cigar Advisor’s Essential Punch Cigars Tasting & Buying Guide

By the Cigar Advisor Editors

Punch Cigars: A History

The line on Punch has always been that it’s the premium cigar “that lives up to its name.” And we certainly found a few of the Punch cigars we sampled for these Brand Guide cigar reviews to deliver on that promise. Punch is the world’s second-oldest cigar brand that’s still being made today, and is the third oldest Cuban cigar trademark in Havana, founded in 1840.

Cuban Punch Cigars

Like many of today’s classic handmades, Punch cigars got their start in Havana, Cuba. They were produced for the English cigar market, and took the name of a European puppet show character known as Mr. Punch; you can still find him (occasionally accompanied by his dog, Toby) on the box or bands of most Punch cigars.
Tobaccos grown in the Vuelta Abajo region formed the basis of the blend, and Punch quickly became a hit smoke – even Sir Winston Churchill would become an occasional fan of these hearty Cuban Punch cigars. They continued to be rolled alongside other Cuban classics like Hoyo de Monterrey, La Escepción and La Belinda, until the factory fell victim to Castro’s “nationalization.”

Punch in Honduras

After leaving Cuba, the rights to Punch cigars were eventually sold to the Villazon family’s factory; but with the Embargo in place, Villazon was forced to use Honduran tobacco in the blend after running out of their supply of Cuban leaf. In the process, Punch became one of the first Cuban Heritage brands in Danli, Honduras – and it was then that the blend blossomed into the bold, full-bodied smoke that has made it an all-time American favorite.

For this Advisor Guide to Punch Cigars, we’ve sampled one of the more popular sizes of every regular production cigar that Punch makes – nine in all. You’ll find our review notes below, along with some additional details that we hope will give you a general idea of how each line smokes; flavor is subjective, of course, but if it sounds like you might enjoy something on this list, we say go for it and try them for yourself.

If you’ve smoked these Punch cigars in the past and want to tell us about your own experience(s), leave a comment below.

Punch Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Honduras
Size: Pita (6 1/8” x 50 Toro)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
Filler: Dominican Republic/Honduras/Nicaragua
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf

punch cigars guide punch cigar reviewDraw: Perfect
Pre-Light Flavor: Woody & sweet.
First Few Puffs: Woody
Aroma: Cedary
Burn/Ash Quality: Nice, light gray ash.
Balance: Straight-forward flavors.
Base Flavors: Earth, leather, wood.

Summary: After I smoked this stick, I remarked to my fellow Cigar Advisor editors that I forgot how good it really was. The Pita is a cigar I smoked a lot back in my early days of leafiness but I hadn’t fired one up in ages. I think with all the gazillion new brands that have been out over the years created by the new cigar-stars like Don Pepin, AJ Fernandez and Drew Estates, I, like many others gravitated to the bold complexities from Nicaragua.

punch pita cigar review punch cigars guide

Back in the day, my Dad smoked boxes of Punch Pitas by the truckload…and damn if they’re still not just as good. Worth revisiting if you haven’t had ’em in a while – click to see more.

But this Honduran-made smoke brought me back home, mainly because of its simplicity. It’s not a complex smoke by any means, just straight-on tastiness from start to finish. Earthy: check. Leathery: check. Woody: hell yeah, just sweet and delicious. And what a wonderful cedary aroma it gives off. It was perfect company to my late-morning, post breakfast coffee. And, I wasn’t surprised to see how highly rated this Natural is by you, the readers, on the Famous website. Sometimes in life you just have to go back to your roots, and I am definitely picking up more of these classics for my eagerly awaiting humidor. ~ Tommy Zman Zarzecki

Punch Maduro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Honduras
Size: Pita (6 1/8” x 50 Toro)
Strength:  Medium-plus
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Dominican Republic/Honduras/Nicaragua
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf

punch cigars guide punch maduro cigar review

Construction and Overall Appearance: Nice sheen on this cigar…a dark n’savory-looking brown, but not a super-dark Maduro. Barely noticeable tooth; sturdy feel, without looking too rough around the edges.
Draw: Slight resistance.
Pre-light flavor: Big-time leather, along with hints of exotic spice and wood.
Toasting & Light: A strong pepper note socks you in the nose.
Base flavors: Pepper, leather, wood, sweet.
Retrohale: Woodsy, peppery and full.
Aroma: Wood and leather.
Burn / Ash Quality: Ash is nearly white, a little flaky; decent burn, for the most part.
Balance of flavors: A nice mix, with just-right complexity.

Summary: All that business about Punch knocking you over with strength? I’m not buying it, as this tasty Maduro is anything but a one-dimensional club to the taste buds…there’s actually a nice, balanced mix between the flavors, along with an intensity that makes the mouth water a bit at times, way back on your palate.

That said, there is nothing delicate about this cigar; a snoot full of pepper to start…leather and wood pour on…the smoke is lush and heavy on the tongue, with little jabs of pepper for good measure, and a slightly sweet tang on the finish. Any rough edges of flavor smooth out within a couple of puffs as the burn sets itself up.

I’m quickly rewarded with thick, rich rips of smoke – thicker than the original Punch cigars Tommy describes above. A third of the way along, there’s a wave of creamy herbs and spices that would even make the Colonel blush. We’ve already reached full-flavored territory, and this Punch seems to hold on tight.

punch maduro cigar review punch cigars guide pullo

The Maduro version of the core Punch cigars line is as affordable as it is nub-able – and the pepper gives the taste buds a good case of prickly heat. Click for more.

At halfway, the flavor levels out with a cocoa sweetness and a tangy vibe – I’m really surprised at how much this Punch Maduro changes, getting better and better. A surprisingly long smoke time, too, providing me with nearly two hours of slow burning happiness. I nubbed with 1½” left, as it got a bit too hot.

The Punch Maduro story, in a nutshell: high quality without the high price. Who would have thought I’d be raving about a cigar that’s been around since 1969? Rediscover this cigar, as soon as you have the chance. ~ John Pullo

Punch Gran Puro Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Sierra (6½” x 48 Corona Gorda)
Strength: Medium – Full
Wrapper: Honduran San Agustin Havana seed
Filler & Binder: Honduran San Agustin 

punch gran puro cigar review punch cigars guide

Construction/Appearance: Excellent. Cigar is firm and seamlessly rolled. Wrapper has an even Colorado color with a leathery look and feel, and the double seam cap is attractive and well-applied.
Draw: Very good.
Pre-light: Leathery.
First few puffs: Very smooth, creamy, and nutty.
Burn: Excellent with a firm grey-black ash.
Aroma: Sweet and floral.
Base Flavors: Cedar, sweet spice, espresso, roasted almonds.
Balance: Excellent.

Summary: As a big fan of Honduran tobacco, this Punch Gran Puro Sierra was pretty heavenly. When these first arrived on the scene in 2003, they were Punch Cigars’ first Honduran puro blended entirely with proprietary tobaccos grown in the San Agustin Valley.

For me, this vitola offered a well-rounded, medium-full smoke with base notes of cedar, sweet spice, espresso and a sprinkling of roasted almonds in the mix. I also like the Sierra’s 6½” x 48 dimensions. I’ve found that cigars rolled in this format tend to offer good balance.

Punch Gran Puro cigar review punch cigars guide gk

If you like Honduran tobacco, the Gran Puro features nothing but Punch’s best from the country. Impressive flavors, with a Cubanesque touch. Click for more.

This cigar also had a subtle floral component found in many Cuban cigars. (If you don’t taste it in the smoke, you may notice it in the aroma.) Equally impressive was the volume and creamy texture of the smoke, while in the third act, the espresso and spice elements intensified without turning bitter or harsh.

I smoked the Sierra in the morning with my coffee (cream, no sugar) and it was a beautiful thing. The smoke provided just enough sweetness, and the overall mix of earthy flavors was consistently well-balanced. Based on that experience, the Punch Gran Puro Sierra was “a perfect smoke” in every segment right down the line. Sir, may I please have another! ~ Gary Korb

Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 6×54 (6” x 54 Toro)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Nicaragua

punch cigars guide punch gran puro nicaragua cigar review

Draw: Excellent
Pre-Light: Earthy
First Few Puffs: Woody
Aroma: Dark wood
Burn/Ash Quality: Solid, perfect, light gray
Balance: Excellent balance of various notes
Base Flavors: Pepper, Black Cherry, Plum, Leather, Floral

Summary: The Gran Puro Nicaragua is a serious departure from the classic Honduran line of Punch cigars that has been around for ages, and it is one hell of a surprise. I really didn’t know what to expect, as I was hit with a whole lot of great flavors along with some super nice balance and complexity. The dark and oily Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper is gorgeous to look at and adds a terrific sweetness to the Nicaraguan core tobaccos.

punch gran puro nicaragua cigar review punch cigars guide tz

The Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro wrapper on the Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua is very dark – and SUPER-oily. Sweet n’ tasty – click to learn more. 

It starts out a little bit peppery and leathery upon lighting up, but that gives way to some incredibly sweet and tasty notes of dark fruits like plums and black cherry. I was also hit with some very pleasant floral notes about halfway through, which is generally more reminiscent in well-aged Cuban cigars. And, let me say that the construction is top of the line as a thick ash burned perfectly from start to finish. Watch our review video if you need more convincing…but hey, if you want to try something new and different, and you like ‘em bold and full of rich flavor, this Punch is a must for your shopping list. ~ Tommy Zman

Punch Rare Corojo Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
Size: Magnum (5 ¼” x 54 Box-pressed Robusto)
Strength: Medium – Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
Filler: Dominican Piloto Cubano/Honduras/Nicaragua
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf

punch cigars guide punch rare corojo cigar reviewConstruction/Appearance: Excellent. Milk chocolate colored wrapper is even in hue throughout and virtually seamless. Cigar is firm all the way through and perfectly box-pressed with a textbook double-seam cap. Has a nice feel in the hand and mouth.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light: Leather and anise.
First few puffs: Earth, leather, wood.
Burn: At the carbon line the burn appears a little jagged, but I encountered no issues. The cigar also revealed a firm, light grey ash. (The first nugget left the chain at about 3/4 of an inch.)
Aroma: Sweet with a suggestion of cocoa.
Base Flavors: Cedar, cocoa, coffee bean, sweet spice.
Balance: Excellent.

Punch Rare Corojo cigar review 1 punch cigars guide gk

The Magnum is an oversized, box-pressed robusto;  if you prefer a perfecto, there’s a Punch Cigars exclusive size at Famous Smoke Shop called the Punch Rare Corojo Regalias Perfecto. Click here to check it out

Summary: I’ve been smoking Punch Rare Corojos since 2002 and they’ve been incredibly consistent. This cigar’s great secret lies in its luscious Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, which is also one of the reasons it’s enjoyed an annual limited release. (I guess that puts the Punch Rare Corojo series in the “small batch cigar” category.) Although the Magnum is a tour de force, I also suggest the Punch Rare Corojo in the “Pita” shape, which is closer to a traditional Toro in shape, and which I’ve smoked more often from the line.

As expected, the smoke was smooth, creamy, balanced and medium-full in body. The early flavors were toasty with some earthy notes, cedar, cocoa and sweet spice. As the Magnum worked its way into the second act, the cocoa became a little more distinctive, while a glimmer of hazelnut joined the fray. It was also at this point that I noticed some coffee bean on the finish.

Punch Rare Corojo cigar review punch cigars guide gk

The sweet spot: the middle section is the most complex, but the Rare Corojo delivers faithfully from start to finish. Click to learn more.

Due to its 5-nation blend, I let the cigar rest at least a minute between puffs to let all those fine tobaccos marry. The Magnum has a marvelous complexity, and because the cigar is so comfortable in the mouth, it’s hard to put down, but the benefits of resting it make for a pleasurable payoff.

The middle section is the most complex, but even in the final inches, the Magnum held-up magnificently on all counts. This is a full-body, full-flavored cigar lover’s dream, and I can’t recommend these Punch cigars highly enough, even for newer cigar smokers who want to dive into a much more multidimensional smoke. ~ Gary

Punch Deluxe Chateau L Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Honduras
Size: Chateau L (7 ¼” x 54 Churchill)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf Oscuro
Filler: Dominican Republic/Honduras/Nicaragua
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf

punch cigars guide punch delauxe chateau l cigar review

Construction and Overall Appearance: This is a huge cigar…a bit rustic looking, chocolate brown and VERY toothy.
Draw: A bit on the loose side.
Pre-light flavor: Molasses and cedar.
Toasting & Light: Very smooth start with charred flavors.
Base flavors: Wood, spice, pepper, and somewhat buttery.
Aroma: Woody and smooth.
Burn / Ash Quality: A surprisingly even burn for broadleaf; light grey ash doesn’t hold on very long.
Balance of flavors: This is a sensationally well-rounded cigar.

Summary: When it comes to heartier smokes, this Punch Deluxe is a total 180 – this is how Punch cigars serve the connoisseur set.

Contrary to the typical Punch M.O., the Chateau L is brewed for the sophisticated palate. The blend is comprised of tobaccos aged at least three years; the smoke is thick, the flavors are dark, and (of course) there’s a peppery quality to the smoking experience.

The Chateau starts off very smooth; a bit of a wonky burn, but that straightens itself out rather quickly. Then, a noticeable layer of spice. Charred peat and wood, like a strong cedar taste, make an appearance before a buttery, oily sensation comes through the smoke – and this Punch comes on strong at the finish. It’s a formidable sensation, like how a full-bodied wine hits you, but never truly “strong.”

punch deluxe chateau cigar review punch cigars guide jp

A closeup of that toothy Chateau L: that’s Broadleaf Oscuro. Click to see more.

This Punch Deluxe is big, even for a Churchill…at 7 ¼ x 54, it seemingly lasts forever.

The Oscuro wrapper is decidedly rustic: the tooth on the Broadleaf is so pronounced and raised, it practically reads like braille.

I’d call this smoke very well-rounded in terms of body, more than any of the other Punch cigars in their lineup; definitely more restrained, and very well-refined. ~ John

 

Punch Deluxe Royal Coronation Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Honduras
Size:  Royale Coronation (5 ¼” x 44 Corona)
Strength: Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Sumatra
Filler: Honduras/Nicaragua/Dominican Republic
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Presentation: Tube

punch cigars guide punch deluxe royal coronation cigar review

Construction and Overall Appearance: The Sumatra wrapper is beautifully oily yet rustic with very fine veins.
Draw: Perfect.
Pre-light flavor: Very nostalgic smelling, a heavy earth with minerals, sweet barnyard, aged wood and tobaccos. Cold draw – very minerally, deep earth and woods, leather, hay, and barnyard.
Toasting & Light: Very sweet, slightly toasty. There’s a note of charred oak and wood. Tons of smoke busting out. Slight tanginess on the aftertaste.
Base flavors: Dark Cherry, charred oak, earth, minerals.
Retrohale: Very sweet and peppery, essence of charred oak is heavy as is the rich soil and mineral notes. A vegetal note comes forward after a moment as well.
Burn / Ash Quality: Very tight, grey-white mixed ash; the burn was desirable.
Balance of flavors:  The balance had a micro-struggle at times between peppery and sweet but was overall very well rounded.

Summary: Seeking a “classic” cigar? I was, and the Punch Deluxe Royal Coronation is everything I could have asked for (and more) in this classic Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Dominican blend. The Sumatra wrapper has a hearty feel to it while the cold draw brought me to nostalgia of the cigars my grandfather smoked. While there was a hint of old time tobacco, the cold draw is laden with heavy earth and mineral notes as well as woods, leather, hay, and barnyard.

Punch Deluxe royal coronation cigar review fl punch cigars guide

Punch Deluxe Royal Coronation is the only one in the Punch Deluxe line – or of any Punch cigars, for that matter – with the Honduran Guarantee seal. It’s used as a secondary band (I removed the primary band to show it). Click for more.

The first third brought a wallop of tangy, dark cherry sweetness under a heavy woodsy profile. After a retrohale I pick up on strong notes of cherry, black pepper, charred oak, rich soil and mineral. This smoke has a slight nuttiness that’s worth mentioning, and it comes in around the 1-inch mark. The second and final third were much the same as far as intensity and flavors are concerned (woody, sweet and tangy), leading me to the conclusion that this is a complex, yet unchanging cigar – much like the days of smoking the classics. Overall, the Royal Coronation hits all the notes of a great, rich smoke – pair with a dark rum or bourbon, and you won’t be disappointed. ~ Fred Lunt

Punch Signature Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Honduras
Size: Robusto (5” x 54)
Strength: Full
Wrapper: Ecuador Corojo
Filler: Dominican Republic/Nicaragua
Binder: Connecticut Habano

punch cigars guide punch signature cigar review

Construction and Overall Appearance: Dark for a natural wrapper, almost chestnut brown in appearance. Nice super-oily sheen; super hefty in the hands, too.
Draw: Just right.
Pre-light flavor: Savory meatiness, nuts, leather, salt and fresh, sweet tobacco.
Toasting & Light: Lights up with spice, wood leather.
Base flavors: Salt, leather, nuts, aged wood, earth.
Retrohale: Pepper, with tangy herbs.
Aroma: Very cedary and delicious.
Burn / Ash Quality: Decent burn line with a swirly grey ash.
Balance of flavors: Not the most balanced example in the humidor, but here it works.

Summary: Supposedly inspired by the early Cuban Punch recipe, and named to a slew of best-of lists across the cigar business; 90-rated, too. Today we will investigate why.

First thing to notice is that these do not look like your usual Punch cigars; the artwork is a throwback to the original mid-19th century look. The Ecuador Corojo is a dark, small batch wrapper, grown expressly for use on this cigar.

punch signature cigar review punch cigars guide john pullo

Huge flavor, massive rips of smoke, big full body…this is all before I’ve even reached the 1/3 mark. There’s that swirly ash. Especially good; click to see more.

Right out of the starting blocks, Punch Signature goes house on the taste buds and turns on the jets: there’s a salty layer that runs underneath, along with leather, nuts, wood and a bit of something sweet that I just can’t put my finger on. Some coffee, too – pepper for sure, and if you retrohale, you just might sense a tangy herbal-ness with that pepper.

This thing is a horse: it’s churning out ginormous rips of thick, velvety smoke. An essence of earth comes on, along with a hint of something floral; the finish is so long, you could probably measure it in miles – tangy, with more hints of wood and a mouthwatering quality that won’t give up.

We’ve barely reached 1/3 of the way. And it’s here where Punch Signature sits you down and tells you what’s what, upping the intensity enough to leave you with a lump in your throat. As full bodied cigars go, a delightful specimen both in construction and in flavor.

As for how long it smokes, this Robusto is on island time – it is in no hurry to burn other than nice, slow and relaxed, so don’t think you’re going to rush it. By the halfway mark, the tangy flavors finally begin to relent and open the door for buttery and savory notes, mixed with tannins and aged wood flavors.

The intensity of the flavor rush is pretty consistent – occasionally you get a sensation that makes you raise an eyebrow, as it leans really hard on the salty/berryish tang/earthy and only lets some of the woody, more refined flavors come through from time to time. Of all the Punch cigars here, this is not the most balanced of the bunch – but if you prefer the beefier flavors dominating the smoke throughout you’ll be happy if your experience is similar to mine. ~ John

Punch Sucker Punch Cigar Review

Country of Origin: Honduras
Size:  King Hit (6” x 54 Toro)
Strength: Mellow – Medium
Wrapper: Ecuador Connecticut
Filler: Nicaragua
Binder: Cameroon

punch cigars guide punch suckerpunch sucker punch cigar review

Draw: Very easy.
Pre-light flavor: Foot has the scent of cedar, earth, toast and sweet fruits; draw has dry toast, raisins, hay and barnyard.
Toasting & Light: Very light hints, like paper or cardboard, plus toast, white pepper and a touch of sweetness.
Base flavors: Dry toast, cedar, cream, leather, honey, white pepper.
Aroma: Sweet cedar.
Burn/Ash Quality: Very white; ash is flakey, but holds on nicely.
Balance of flavors: Favors flavors over strength.

Summary: It’s bright and early at the Famous offices, where I started this review with a fresh palate and French press full of sweet roasted coffee (the best way to enjoy this cigar). The cold draw offered hints of dry toast, raisins, hay and barnyard…toasting it up was a warm handshake: those first, early morning puffs brought a wave of toast, paper, and white pepper along with a subtle sweetness that’s just right for my semi-awake taste buds.

Sucker Punch sets out nice and smooth; the first third holds a fair amount of sweetness, backed by a creamy-toasty feel. Not a very complex burn, but perfect for matching up with a dark coffee.

punch Sucker Punch cigar review Fred Punch Cigars Guide

A relatively mellow Punch? Hard to believe but it’s true. But it doesn’t take long for some of those more intense kicks to arrive.

Midway through the honey-like sweetness is on full bore, sharp notes of white pepper hit the palate while notes of cedar, toast, cream, and leather keep things balanced and flavorful. Toward the end, the intensity had shifted toward medium with some added notes of salt and coffee.

The King Hit/6×54/fat Toro vitola is a 97-rated hit: a perfect cigar to start the day, and goes exceptionally well with coffee in a nice ‘n easy, smooth profile. That kick in intensity at about halfway is one of the hallmarks of these Punch cigars, and is going to be what grabs your attention. ~ Fred

There you have it: the entire range of Punch cigars, all nine (along with the aforementioned line extensions) reviewed. Hopefully we’ve shown you some proof that Punch is more than just a brawny Honduran cigar – and given you a few good reasons to discover and enjoy them for yourself.

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