As much as I like to think I am young and hip, when it comes to the marketing of cigars, I am a traditionalist at heart. I don’t like flashy packaging (does anyone remember the lighted CAO Vision boxes?) and detest a cigar which comes with its own gimmicky back-story (ORTSAC 1962 and the Cuban Missile Crisis).
Last week, when a five-pack of Punch Signature Cigars arrived in the mail, I was torn. The new Punch Signature had a brand new look that was very different from the classic band I’ve known for years. I opened up the sales literature and expected a gimmick, instead it won me over with it’s talk of a throwback (of sorts) to the original blend.
The new Punch Signature consists of fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua – both of which are the same variety as the original Punch blend. The binder is a proprietary Connecticut Habano leaf. The new line is available in four sizes
- Rothschild: 4.50 x 50 with an SRP of $5.39
- Robusto: 5.00 x 54 with an SRP of $6.79
- Torpedo: 5.75 x 52 with an SRP of $6.99
- Gigante: 6.00 x 60 with an SRP of $6.99
Before we go any farther, it’s time for a little dose of truth. In my mind, General Cigar is a lot like Anheuser-Busch. They aren’t out to carve out their little piece in the business, instead they seem to go for volume with mass market appeal. There is nothing wrong with that but it generally leads to product that doesn’t have the wow factor.
With that said, when I receive new product from General, I don’t typically set the bar very high. I light up the cigar thinking that it will be a solid product, at a fair price, that I will not have strong feelings towards.
When I lit up the Punch Signature, something unexpected happened. I was slapped right in the face by the wow factor. The dominant flavors were hearty and rich, with a salty accent that made me salivate. A bit of pepper through the nose clinched it, this was the best cigar I’ve had from General Cigar in quite a long time (my previous favorite being the original La Gloria Cubana Artesano de Miami). The finish was so thick it was damn near chewy and the body was firmly planted in the full range.
As I smoked along, the flavor intensity and body fell then rose again. The most enjoyable parts of the Punch Signature were at the very beginning and the final third – when the flavor intensity was at its peak. One aspect of this cigar that may appeal to some is that there isn’t much in the way of distinct flavor variations. It was a slow and steady path, with no twists and turns along the way, from beginning to end.
Construction on these cigars was solid. The wrapper was beautiful with dark coloring and an oily sheen. Smoke volume was excellent and the draw was effortless. The only issue I ran into (with 2 of the 5 cigars) was a small hole in the filler. This slight tunnel burned out quickly but created a pocket of hot smoke and reduced flavor.
For the purpose of this review I smoked the Robusto vitola and found it to be very enjoyable. I’d like to see the price a bit closer to the $6.00 range to compete with the AJ Fernandez New World (an amazing cigar for the money) but at a suggested $6.79, I think the price is fair.