The Punch Signature is just starting to make its arrival in our stores. A brand new name, a bright white label, and an acrylic window in the cigar box all point to this being something new and different from Punch. Most of us are very familiar with their standard offerings in the simple blue box that has been around for what seems to be an eternity. We did see Punch offer up the Bareknuckle a couple years ago and the Upper Cut around six years ago, but this has been a brand noted little change. What we see today looks about the same as we saw 30 years ago in both style and blend and even in the same basic box. So who is this new kid in the Punch neighborhood?
Sometimes what was old suddenly becomes new again. And in the case of this Punch Signature that is what we are seeing. Ignoring the modern and eye-catching box which was obviously designed to highlight the fact that this cigar is not the typical Punch you’ve seen the last 30 or so years, our eyes are drawn to the new band. Well, let’s just say it’s a different band than what we are used to seeing but actually harkens back to the original artwork on the original Punch cigars from the 1800s. As for the cigar itself the goal was to reach back in time to the original Punch blend and flavor. While most Punch cigars use an Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper, the Signature uses Ecuadorian Corojo to try and match up against the original Cuban Corojo on the first Punch cigars. There’s a Connecticut Habano binder surrounding filler from Dominican Republic and Nicaragua which also differs from the traditional Punch filler that also includes some Honduran tobacco.
So how is this “new” old-recipe cigar? The wrapper on this smoke was beautiful; very dark and quite oily. Definitely a corojo wrapper! This cigar had a great pre-light aroma of earth and wood and none of the barnyard smell most Punch are noted for. The first couple draws hit fairly hard and I could tell this was not the average Punch! While the flavors of toasty nuts and some earth and wood notes are there, the peppery spice of Nicaraguan tobacco definitely makes itself known. The pepper hits the back of the throat pretty hard so I would not recommend this smoke for a beginner. The first retrohale on this cigar shows off the pepper intensity and it is bold. This is a full strength, full-bodied, and full-flavored smoke and can be intense at times. The smoke and flavor are chewy and dense and while the cigar is not totally overpowering it is quite the powerhouse and is slightly reminiscent of a true Cuban cigar.
This cigar has a good draw and burns fairly well although it did need a few touchups to keep the burn even. It is not overly complex but fairly straightforward with its flavors of nuts, wood, earth and pepper spice. It certainly continues to build in intensity towards the final third of the smoke and the dense, chewy smoke with the pepper highlights is not for the faint of heart. This cigar is bold and in your face and pairs well with a big red wine, a well-aged port, or a dark and heavy stout or porter. If you fancy the full bodied cigars then this is definitely for you!
Steve Mungeer, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits Category Manager: Premium Cigars and Craft Beer
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