Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cigar Review: Punch Punch (ALT JUN-13)


The Punch brand is one of those brands that has been around for a long time, but manages to keep a low profile all the time. It is limited in its vitola options and the options that the brand offers its Habanos in are vitola options that are also utilized by more well known brands. When you think of a double corona, Punch does not come to mind, but it has a double corona in the portfolio. When you think of corona gordas you do not think of Punch, but Punch has one as well. When I think about grabbing a Habanos, Punch does not come to mind and I assume that is how most smokers feel. Yes, I have smoked the double corona in the past and loved it, but overall I would go with a Gigantes or Lusitanias. Today I remember Punch though and take a look at their corona gorda, the Punch Punch.

The Punch Punch is a vitola that has been around for over 50 years, and it is part of a brand that is one of the oldest. The Punch brand was registered in 1840 and it was registered by a German for the European market. The name originated from the famous puppet show, Punch and Judy, which originated in Italy in the 16th Century. The Punch brand quickly became a success in Great Britain and it has had several regional editions along with a limitada in 2013. The Habano has a smooth and silky wrapper and there are no oils present to touch. The coloring is very light, just Colorado, and it is practically vein free. It is slightly firm to touch and it has a lovely triple cap applied to the head. Most Punch smokes are being made at La Corona and they are composed of all Vuelta Abajo tobacco. The Punch Punch is a coronas gordas by definition and measures 143 mm (5.6) with a 46 ring gauge. The wrapper has an aroma that is between stone fruit, hay, manure, spiced and cedar, and the foot is showing an aroma of spices, pepper, tobacco and earth.

The first third shows some classic Habanos flavors and the qualities of a young Habano as well. The smoke is not even a year old yet, but already I see some great aging potential. In terms of construction it is nearly perfect and it is showing a nearly razor sharp burn line with a nice cool draw to the smoke. It is producing a dark charcoal colored ash on the end, and it is holding on firmly as well. In terms of flavors I am getting some spices, mostly pepper notes, and it is accompanied by some hay, wood, earth and cafe mocha notes. The chocolate notes are mostly dark chocolate notes and the cafe flavors are that of espresso beans. There are some smoky and heavy qualities in terms of flavors as well and it is a stronger Habano than I was expecting. I would say that the strength is right at a medium full level and the same goes for the body. They may say it is softer, but this first third is showing something more.

As I enter into the second third of the Punch it really begins to show the youth of the Habano. I am getting some definite strong tobacco notes and it is accompanied by some spice and pepper notes. There are some bits of cayenne here and there, and the wood and earth flavors have lessened. I am getting hints of coffee beans in this third but those dark chocolate notes have left completely. I believe that in some years this Habano will really begin to show its greatness, but right now it is too young to show all it has. It continues to smoke well in terms of construction, I will give it that, and it has a nearly razor sharp burn line with a nice dark charcoal ash on the end. The draw is smooth and producing a lot of smoke, but it is not as cool as I would like. I am finding that the strength and body are at a medium full level still and this is definitely an evening Habano in my opinion.

When I get into the final third of the Habano I find that the flavors make a change and a sort of resurrection you may say. There is a spark of this vanilla flavor with the smoke and it is pairing with these cafe mocha flavors that were present in the first third but left the cigar in the second third. It is still showing the spice and pepper notes from before as well, but they are not as noticeable and as powerful as before. The finish is that of tobacco and floral notes and it is much cooler as well. I would say the body has calmed some in this third and it is now between medium and medium full. The strength has really come down as well and it is now smoking at a medium level. In terms of construction the Habano is top notch and I am getting an even burn line with a dark charcoal ash holding on well to the end. The final draw is cool and it is producing a soft amount of smoke with those enjoyable flavors.

I enjoyed the Punch Punch and I think it is a vitola that is going to age well. It is not my favorite of the corona gordas that Habanos S.A. has on the market, but it is definitely a solid one at that. With a lot of great corona gordas available, it is hard to be the best, but I would say it is in the top five. Looking at my past experiences with the Punch brand I would have to say this is my third favorite after the Punch Double Corona and Punch Petit Coronations. I think the Punch Double Corona is awesome with age, almost as good as a Ramon Allones Gigantes, and the Petit Coronations is a terrific small smoke. I think the Punch Punch is the most popular of the vitolas in the brand and is probably the best selling as well. My guess on the brand is that it does fairly well for them and does well in particular markets. I imagine the regional edition releases do very well, and the core stuff does decent from year to year. Looking back on this smoke, and how young it is, I am giving it between an 86-88 right now, but I think with some years behind it, it can be up to the 91-93 range.

Young Rating: 86-88
With Age Rating: 91-93