Ring Gauge: 54
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominican
Price: $4.25 (Locally in PA.)
The Punch line of cigars is one of old Cuban roots. It was created back in 1840 by Manuel Lopez. In an effort to draw in British customers, the popular Mr. Punch, from the Punch and Judy puppet show, adorned the cigar boxes.
In 1969 the brand began being produced in the Villazon factory of Honduras by Frank Llaneza. Since then the brand has become know for its affordable pricing and wide availability. Cigars are packaged in boxes of numerous shapes and sizes. In addition to the standard Punch line, they are available in blends such as Punch Deluxe, Gran Cru, Gran Puro, and Rare Corojo.
As I was digging around in my Collidor, I came across a ziplock bag with a pair of cigars in it. As soon as I saw the cigars I knew exactly where they came from. On February 7, 2007, I was at a local cigar shop for a Punch Ambassador Event. While there, I purchased a ten count box of Punch Magnums and a few singles. The singles were tossed in my cooler and forgotten about for almost two years.
When I pulled my Punch Magnum from the bag, the first thing I noticed was the yellowing of the cellophane sleeve. The yellowing is a result of the oils on the wrapper of the cigar, transferring to the cellophane over a period of time. Many people like to think of this as an indication of the cigar being around for a few years.
Once removed from the cellophane sleeve, I took a quick look over the cigar. The sheen of the wrapper leaf was fairly dull while the color was a bit mottled, especially around veins. There was a single large vein running practically the length of the cigar, this vein was flanked by several smaller ones.
The aroma on both the wrapper and exposed foot were almost nonexistent. When pinched, I found the cigar to be firmly packed with tobacco, with the exception of two small soft spots. The overall texture of the wrapper leaf was a bit lumpy due to the veins.
After opening up the head of my cigar, I checked the pre-light draw and found it to be loose. The flavor on the cold draw was very mild and undistinguishable.
After the pre-light inspection was out of the way, I moved to lighting my Punch Magnum. After a first attempted that lacked in smoke volume, I broke out my torch and went at it again. This time the cigar lit evenly and produced a generous supply of smoke.
The first puff produced a salty blast of flavor which immediately made me salivate. The salty flavor is one that I have come to expect from many of the Punch offerings and always think of it as a primer for the flavors to come. It seems to jump start the taste buds by getting the saliva flowing. After the first puff, the salty flavor fades significantly and lingers deep in the background. The flavor that moves forward as the primary component is a Honduran tobacco taste.
In terms of body, this cigar is medium throughout the first portion of the smoke. There is a slow progression throughout, but it never moves into a higher category. The finish has a little bite to it and gives a quick jolt to the back portion of the tongue, as well as the sinuses.
The burn line of my cigar was moderately even and heavy. Upon closer inspection I could see the wrapper leaf beginning to curl up where it was being burned. This did not lead to any burn problems, just happened to catch my attention.
The ash was light in color as well as being firm and compacted. As the cigar burned the ash retained its shape without any flowering or flaking. The resting smoke was about average, as was the burn rate.
After a little more than thirty minutes, I was into the second third of my Punch Magnum. Just as I remembered, things began to change as I burned deeper into the stick. The first change to catch my attention was in the flavor department. The straight-up Honduran tobacco flavor was mellowing out while a nice leathery flavor was beginning to come into the picture. Earlier on in the smoke, there was a salty flavor that was mingling in the background. This flavor was beginning to turn sour and became less enjoyable.
The body of the smoke picked up slightly as I burned along, but it never moved beyond medium. Due to the age of this cigar (almost 2 years) it is possible that it may have lost some of its umph due to aging. Even thinking back to when I smoked these regularly, I never considered them to be the full bodied smoke that General Cigar makes them out to be on their website. The finish remained crisp with a little bite. This bite came in the form of a quick jolt of spice that is felt on the back of the tongue as well as in the sinuses.
After an unexpected ashing at the end of the first third, the cigar began to develop an uneven burn. After about a half dozen puffs, the burn line corrected itself and I was back in business. The burn line has thinned out at this point and appears a little darker. Each puff on the cigar produces a generous supply of dense smoke.
As I crept up on the hour and a half mark, it was time to get into the final third of my Punch Magnum. Just as could be expected, the body climbed slightly but never got out of the medium range. The finish remained the same and put off a bit of bite on the back of the tongue and through the sinuses.
The flavor remained more or less the same as the second third. The flavors of leather picked up a bit while the focus remained on a natural Honduran tobacco flavor. The flavors have become deeper and more rich as I have smoked along. The sour note of the previous third was moving back to being more along the lines of salty. Just as before, this salty flavor mingled in the background and didn’t draw much attention to itself.
Lighting this cigar up after such a long hiatues, I think I may have had my hopes up a little too high. This was a cigar that always satisfied, as a result I purchased a number of them. I had the thought in my head that I would light one of these up and walk down memory lane, being just as satisfied as I was back when I smoked Punch Magnums on a regular basis. Over time my supply of Punch cigars has diminished and my tastes have changed.
While I did enjoy this cigar, I can easily say that my taste has gone in the direction of Nicaraguan tobacco. The Punch Magnum delivered a decent smoke that didn’t change a lot from start to finish. The cigar burned well and is affordable, which is enough of a reason for me to keep a few on hand for those odd occasions when I get the craving for a medium bodied Honduran smoke. While I can’t say it hit the spot like it used to, it was a decent smoke none the less.
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