Thursday, December 10, 2009

First Cigar Review: PUNCH UPPERCUT

I'd like to give a brief general history, as well as personal experience, of the Punch Brand before I launch into the much anticipated review of their newest release: the Uppercut.

Punch was founded in 1840 and named after a European puppet show character, Mr. Punch. Fast forward to the 20th Century, when the Great Depression really pushed the cigar industry to limits of hardship and many well-known brands and companies went under. After the Stock Market crashed in 1929 the brand was bought up by the firm Fernandez, Palacio y Cia where it quickly became the headlining label alongside Belinda, La Escepcion, and Hoyo de Moneterrey. The brand was especially popular in Great Britain were it caught the attention of one man in particular.

Winston Churchill had his first Punch Cigar in 1895 when he was stationed in Cuba during his military career. Over the next 70 years he was rarely without a large cigar that have come to bear his name. Punch cigars were always his favorites, as he often proclaimed, "I am man of simple taste, easily satisfied by the best."
Punch became a split entity after Fidel Castro took control of Cuba in 1959. The trade embargo between the U.S. and Cuba in addition to the nationalization of the cigar industry was more than enough for Fernando Palacio to flee to Florida where he subsequently sold his labels to Frank Llaneza and Dan Blumenthal who still manufacture them today for the American market.

With much respect to Llaneza, who also makes Sancho Panza which happens to be one of my favorite labels, from my own personal experience Punch cigars have never historically hit the spot for me. I have found their flavor to be bland with a tendency to dry out and become very bitter at the end of a cigar. I can usually forgive a bitter end to a cigar if the body of it is outstanding in flavor and construction. However, I have not found that to be true with Punch. My in-laws-to-be did present me with a gift of two Punch Gran Puro robustos last year amid an array of several other samplings that actually were pretty amazing. A few of my friends who know of my taste asked me why I chose the Uppercut as my first review. The answer was pretty simple: something new and unexpected.

The pre-light aroma and dry draw is surprisingly sweet with hints of dark cherry and caramel. The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper has a slight red tint to it with some veins and a little toothiness. There are two large bands which depart from the traditional red ones that Punch usually display, blue and gold. I personally saved them for my band collection that I still have no idea what I am going to do with.

This Punch lights perfectly, with an even burn and beautiful gray ash. While the sweet notes were the highlight here, the real surprise came in the first few puffs. With no pun intended at all here, this cigar comes out swinging, hitting hard and having sustained strength throughout the beginning of the cigar. The draw was very nice, with not much pull required. In fact, as the cigar began to burn down, the ash "bloomed" slightly with the outer wrapping burning to the side. This may be a good time to mention that the binder and filler hail from Nicaragua. The filler is a speciality blend of tobacco that comes from the Isle de Ometepe. Ometepe is an island that was formed from the volcano that sits in the middle of the island. The soil has proved to be extremely nutritious and the cloud cover of the island provides perfect shade for amazing tobacco.

The draw remained consistent throughout as well as the flavor. The hint of dark cherry sustained throughout the length of the cigar. While the caramel faded quickly, rich coffee and leather notes came about half an inch down and was delicious. This cigar proved to be very simple, yet consistent, throughout the core. The leather became the dominant of the two flavors and the richness of the coffee proved to be a great balancing characteristic.

As the cigar creeped toward the nub, I started to cringe, half-expecting the bitterness to come has it always has with most Punch cigars I've lit up. Three quarters down the wonderful aroma of pepper seeped into the bouquet and the smoke began to produce more copiously than before. The sweetness of the cherry with some added spice finished this cigar quite well.

I really enjoyed this cigar. It was a nice surprise and I recommend this cigar to any fan of medium to full-bodied stogies. At about $5.50 MSRP, this stick would make a nice Christmas gift to anyone you don't know what to get and not take a huge toll on your pocketbook. Enjoy dear readers, enjoy.



  1. Good writing! I'm impressed at the depth of the article and by your descrptions of the flavors. Learned a lot about cigars today. Thanks!


  2. Bear,

    Solid critique on all fronts. Makes me wish I could step outside and enjoy a Punch tonight. Sadly, KS is encased in a hellish freeze at the moment.