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Punch Signature robusto

Punch and Draw put their John Hancock to the Punch Signature, a new and classic release from Punch brands and General Cigar.Punch Signature robusto cigar

Wrapper: Ecuadoran corojo
Binder: Connecticut Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican

Draw: The Punch Signature debuted at the beginning of March, 2015, in four sizes: robusto (5″ x 54), gigante (5″ x 60), rothschild (4.5″ x 50), and torpedo (5.75″ x 52). Handcrafted in Honduras, it is the handiwork of Master Blender Agustin Garcia and his team, and is inspired by the original Punch blend. Says Agustin, “think of it as a brother who has a lot of fire in him, but also respects tradition and the family name.”

Punch: That is so like me! Agustin and his team have been working with a grower since 2012 to ensure that enough of the exclusive Ecuadorian corojo would be available to make this a full-time blend. The wrapper is related to the original Cuban corojo seed, and the binder is a proprietary Connecticut Habano.

D: The filler leaves from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua are the same varieties as in the original Punch blend. Unique to the Signature is that some of the filler is very aged, while other is less so. General Cigar believes the aged leaves bring flavor and balance, and the younger leaves deliver more strength, yielding an “incredible, balanced flavor”. Let’s see about that…

P: Indeed. There’s a good strong alfalfa aroma off the wrapper and foot. This is a densely-packed fella. My big punch gives a solid “medium” draw from this 5 x 54 robusto with flavors of dried fruit and hay.

D: This Punch Signature is a classy-looking cigar with a leathery maduro wrapper; a few stand-out veins suggest the character in natural leather. Very dense filler observed at the foot. A stout flame required to light it up. I found that despite the dense filler, this cigar smokes very quickly – maybe because I’m sucking on it so often! On my third sample, I used the small punch to slow things down. Initial flavors are strong coffee, leather, and green-chile tobacco flavor.

P: Lighting up gives the impression that this is a full-bodied, strong cigar with plenty of pepper in the throat. We shall see. My initial flavors are fairly indistinct – leather and a medium pepper finish. It is quite smooth from the start with no discernible bitterness. 

D: Agreed – very smooth. I’ve had a flash of the ashy taste I associate with a dark roast coffee. But just a flash. Yes, raw leather and coffee on the attack and middle, with a middle and finish of green and black pepper, with a hint of black pepper up the nose. The aftertaste is charred green pepper.

P: Three-quarters of an inch in, there’s a new, complex flavor starting to emerge … No, it is not “green bean” – yet. It is clean, almost bright – a citrus mix?

D: Yes, like a tequila lime. About an inch in for me, and it only lasted for a few puffs. Otherwise, the complexity is still expanded: new leather and light cashew on the attack, meaty fruit (like melon rind, subtle but solid) in the middle polished with a green pepper finish. Tannin becomes prevalent in the finish, and there’s a mild black pepper or strong dark roast coffee throughout.

P: Nice subtle complexity has come out: citrus rind, a light leather, and mild florals. I’ve touched up a lazy side several times already in the first third. Starting the second third, the intensity has settled down to a medium subtlety. The base flavor is a roasted skin of a yellow bell pepper and baby-powder florals, with a mild, short, wood smoke finish. The pepper is all but gone.

D: I feel that: a slight char-released sweetness and a hint of bell-peppery spice. The black pepper is all but gone, opening for a less intense (yellow) bell pepper, and that is now the primary flavor. New leather is the carry-through flavor and the main residual in the aftertaste. The tannin is still in the leather, giving the aftertaste a tartness. This transition is gradual, lending to a consistent flavor-base and performance; this is not a disappointment!

Nearing the middle, I want to note that my ash has held for a good two inches. It fell off as I was contemplating it, rolling it gently observing the slight peninsula that was starting, and pop – there it fell.

P: I’ve had to work this one a bit more than my normal pace to keep the wrapper burning. Rolling mine around, I’m checking out this classic label. It is a very clean and simple presentation. General describes it as derived from artwork of the 1800s for the first Punch cigars. Mr. Punch – the brand’s hand-puppet mascot and namesake – and his dog, Toby, are featured on the back of the band: another throwback.

D: I’m having trouble keeping the wrapper lit on my third sample as I’m coming into the last third. So, frequent purging is necessary to stoke the cherry, and thus I am feeling it mildly. The flavor intensity is slightly below what I normally appreciate, but the balance among the flavors present – man-o-man! The melon‑y fruitiness is coming forward with the leather, as the leather has faded slightly. The pepper, both back and yellow, are much less substantial. Its a nice, sweeter, smooth finish.

P: In spite of my need for several touch-ups, the construction is good. Here in the last third I’m enjoying those mild florals. I would say the nicotine strength is medium, as I can feel it a little; I’m just hoping it doesn’t sneak up on me like the CLE Corojo did.

Burn it or Spurn it?

Draw: Definitely burn this! The Punch Signature reminds me of the Heichecera – a great smoke that you don’t have to worry about. A solid, rich, great tasting performer, with a simple elegance. Character is moderately full and progresses gradually through the entire cigar. Intensity is medium-full overall, starting strong and finishing mild and smooth. Strength is mild-medium giving a pleasant buzz without ruining the remains of your day. I’m looking forward to owning a box of these.

Punch: Oh yeah. It started out with a bold, almost harsh, hit of leather and pepper, but after an inch it settled down to a nice medium intensity with pleasant subtleties of citrus with florals. As it progressed the citrus and pepper diminished, finishing nice and smooth. On the down side, each of the samples I smoked required several touch-ups to correct some drastic lopsided burns. This detriment – averaged out by Draw’s good burns – is no reason to avoid lighting this up. These can be found for around $4/stick and that makes the Punch Signature robusto an excellent smoking value.

Based on 3‑samples each* delivered to us by our friends at General Cigar. Check back in six and 18 months for our follow up.

* In reality, we had to split a 5‑pack initially, because of misdirected mail. I hope Draw’s cretin of a neighbor enjoyed these as much as we did! In fact, he (Draw, not the cretin… well, maybe he did, too) bought a box, which is as beautiful, timeless and modern as the cigar. Kudos!

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