Punch Upper Cut Robusto

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Punch Upper Cut Robusto

This week’s contender is a new addition to General Cigar’s popular Punch line, the Upper Cut. Or perhaps I should call it The Champ, as the Upper Cut made it to production by knocking out lesser cigars a special “Election” promotion that took place last year, according to General’s promotional information. Here’s the word from the official Punch Upper Cut website:

An offspring of the Punch “Election” promotion, the blend created for Upper Cut by Punch is the direct result of a national taste test. Using feedback gleaned from hundreds of consumer respondents, General Cigar’s elite new product development team in Honduras married the rich taste of Punch with Nicaraguan spice to produce this alluring, medium-bodied smoke that envelopes the palate with an array of profound flavors.

Another interesting bit of trivia is the source of the tobacco. It isn’t just your run of the mill Nicaraguan tobacco. A significant percentage of the blend is a proprietary tobacco variety grown on a volcanic island, named Ometepe, located in the middle of the vast Lake Nicaragua. A combination of nutrient-rich volcanic soil, perpetual cloud cover and unique climate are said to result in a distinctive flavor you won’t find elsewhere. Does this mean I’m in for a Nicaraguan knockout? It’s time to find out.

Cigar Stats:
Size: 5.2 x 50
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Nicaraguan (including, but not exclusively Ometepe)*
Smoking Time: 1 1/2 hours
Beverage: Water
Price: MSRP $6.50
*Clarified by General Cigar

The Pre-Smoke
The striking Upper Cut is a visual departure from the red bands that are normally associated with Punch cigars. Looking at it’s blue and gold band, and considering the obvious boxing reference in the name, I couldn’t help but see some similarities between it and a boxing championship belt. But I actually found the foot band more interesting. It features a idyllic landscape with a tobacco farm and the dual volcanic peaks of Ometepe island rising in the distance. A definite keeper for anyone who collects or decorates with cigar bands.

Under the large bands, a somewhat veiny, rustic and slightly reddish wrapper leaf hides. Looking the cigars over, I didn’t notice any serious imperfections. One cigar was lumpy, and sported a cap that was cocked off to one side like it wanted to start some trouble.

The wrapper scent and the cold taste were both surprisingly sweet. There was a definitely a dark cherry element to both.

The Burn
As attractive as the Upper Cut is before you grab your torch, it’s looks even better once it’s ablaze. The ash is bright white and the burn line is razor straight the majority of the time. That isn’t to say there weren’t a few snags along the way. Once again, the Tower of Burn lottery selected the stick with the poorest burn of the bunch. As you’ll note in the pictures, that cigar’s ash flowered a great deal early on, and it developed a really crooked burn later that required intervention. Neither had a significant negative impact on the draw (which was pretty good), the flavor or the over all experience. And considering the other cigars were virtually flawless, I’m chalking it up to a bum stick.

The Flavor
The Upper Cut gets things going with a combination of sweet dark cherry, leather and coffee. Though these flavors bobbed and weaved a bit with each other, the combination remains pretty consistent until just before the end of the first third. At that point, pepper made a sudden appearance. One thing that struck me was how much the cigar coated my palate with flavor (more so in one case than the others) and how long the flavor lingered between puffs.

The second third continued to have the dark cherry sweetness, but it mellowed a bit as the cigar progressed, and at points seemed to melt into the coffee flavor. The pepper played more of a part in this third and the leather remained prominent as well.

The conclusion of the cigar was basically a slightly fuller, more peppery continuation of the second third.

The Price
I don’t have an issue with the price, though I paid almost a buck more a stick for these cigars than MSRP. That is partly due to our state’s tobacco taxes. Even at the price I paid, it’s still not unreasonable (thought the taxes may be), but it doesn’t exactly qualify as a budget cigar either.

The Verdict
My final verdict on this cigar on the Punch Upper Cut was up in the air until the final round. It wasn’t the knockout combination of exotic flavor and value I hoped for, but it never went down for the count either. The flavors were respectable and long lasting, but the match wasn’t exciting. By the time you finish the first third, you’ve seen all there is to see.

Lately people have been discussing their top ten cigar lists for 2009. I haven’t completed my list yet, but I know already that the Punch Upper Cut didn’t make the cut. It’s good but not great. It’s a cigar I’d buy a stick at a time occasionally, but not one I’d designate as box-worthy. But if you’re a fan of Punch cigars, the Upper Cut is something you really should try. It is an interesting variation on the Punch line.

Liked It: It’s OK
Buy It Again: Probably
Recommend It: To Punch cigar fans looking for variety

Tower of Burn
Here for your viewing pleasure is my trademark Tower of Burn.

Special Thanks To
Wordpress. Or as I not very affectionately refer to it, Turdpress. I really appreciate having to rewrite half this review. If my session arbitrarily times out while I’m writing, you better believe I want you to force me to log in again and discard all my work. If you can work out a way to do it in a future version, do you think you could punch me right in the junk at the same time? Thank you so much for all you do.

enjoying cigars since 1997

20 thoughts on “Punch Upper Cut Robusto

  1. Hey now! None of this original content from the Big Three!…lol

    Nice review, Brian, and at that price point, I’ll probably pick one up in the future if I find them.

  2. Great review man! I have been wanting to give this stick a try but have not found them yet locally (surprise, surprise). Seems like a normal run of the mill cigar that just doesnt POP – might be nice just to relax with while watching football or something.


    new tag being formed? #brianhewittsjunkpunch – LOL

  3. My local shop ran a special on these, buy 3 for $15 they came in a nice box, unfortunately I didn’t get home in time for the deal and couldn’t get the deal, however I still picked them up the huge punch fan that I am.

  4. Brian,
    I’ve never run into the problem you had with loosing the review. In the few instances where I’ve timed out, I’ve either used the back button to go back to where I was before hitting the “Save” link. I’ve also refreshed the timed-out page to get the follow-through I needed.

    This may sound extreme, but I type up anything longer than a couple of paragraphs on a word processor and copy/paste them into WordPress. From there I do all my formatting. Its extra work but it gives you a backup copy for archiving if it tickles your fancy.

    The cigar sounds mildly interesting. I’ve was a big Punch fan early in my days of smoking cigars. Over the years they seem to have lost their appeal to me. I think it may something to do with the wider range of complexity offered outside of the core General brands.

  5. Great review, Brian. I tried the Uppercut recently and really enjoyed it, definitely my favorite NC Punch. Going luck in your future bouts with WordPress. 😉

  6. I smoked one of these a few weeks ago and was definitely not impressed. The single i smoked, The Toro size, had a VERY loose draw, which made it very hard to smoke. I had to constantly puff on it otherwise it would go out on me. Because i had to smoke it fast to actually keep it burning, it burned hot and acrid. Whenever i tried to slow down, i had to relight. Maybe if it wasnt a wind tunnel it would be an alright smoke. I’ll give it another shot one of these days.

  7. Looking forward to having one of these. I voted for one of the Punch candidates last year (I think B). If this is the same stick – I know I’ll really enjoy it.

  8. I smoked a sampler of these when they first came out. General and Altadis just don’t get it. They’re more worried about their empire than making good cigars. If they were smart they would work on a line of Punch that Pepin or Litto Gomez blend. Look what Pepin did for Ashton with the San Cristobal.

  9. I tried one last nite. 1st two thirds nice creamy leather, coffee. Spice kicked in last 1/3. would that change if aged for 2 years more??? I dont have another. but may be worth putting one in bottom of the box.

  10. I had one last night and was surprised how much I enjoyed it. Didn’t wow me, but a nice solid cigar with good taste at a decent price. And the burn on the cigar I had was perfect. Nice tight ash and excellent construction.

  11. Good and entertaining and informative. Cigar sounds a lot like the Class Regent by Gurkha and the Sopranos edition by CAO. Can’t wait to try it. Thanks.

  12. Smoking an uppercut right now. Brian, you were spot on with this review. Im not greatly impressed, but the rich flavor of the first third got my mouth salivating. I just purchased the Punch Smoker Box special at 25.99 for the Uppercut, The Rare Corojo, The Regular Punch, and the Gran Puro. Not a big punch fan, and I normally stick to my connecticut shade wrappers and more on the milder side. The only full i love is the Serie V, hands down the best smoke in my opinion. I’ll update you on how the rest of this set goes. Definitely worth the price with the free smoker. Bazing!!!! -CoryMack”anudo”

  13. Had the first one last night. My normal cigar is either the Gurkha masterblend or the Cain. I have to say this cigar was very pleasant. When I try a new cigar I rate them in one of three ways. 1) do not like, usually leave half smoked cigar in ashtray 2) Good cigar will not look for it to buy though 3) excellent cigar will find it to buy a few for humidor. I went out this morning and bought the 3 pack of the Uppercuts.
    The cigar was very pleasent at first spark. Smooth a bit leathery with a creamy aftertaste. About half way through the stick the earthy flavors picked up and had a very good coffee/chocolate taste. The lower 1/3-1/4 of the stick had a nice spicy hint to it to finish the cigar off. I really enjoyed it. It is not a cain, but it is a cigar I will buy.

  14. I’m on my fifth one (grand corona) and I am really enjoying these. My personal take on these is they have a lot of flavor thus they are definitely medium to fuller in profile. The tastes I’m getting are “meaty” and slightly nutty with a zing of salt and spice. It’s a nice change from dark, earthy, woody, and leatherly that I, for some reason, had expected from a super-rich volcanic grown leaf. I can see why this leaf has a very unique flavor profile. It has me wondering how much of the filler is from Ometepe? I am not likening this to any stick in my current rotation so with the marketing of this unique very limited quantity leaf I’m thinking it lives up to its billing as being a largely singular type offering. It finishes fairly long and strong so it definitely asserts itself. I happen to like it and will enjoy having the entire box to work in. I recommend trying the Punch Uppercut. It’s not a “me-too” cigar, rather it is different. It will polarize smokers to be sure, but at the reasonable price ($6.50) this grand corona deliveres a hour of pleasure as far as I’m concerned.

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