General Cigar Co. – Punch Signature
Fishing season is officially underway in the Upper Peninsula with May 15th marking opening day for Walleye fishing. With my wife and kids out of town, I have gotten in my share of fishing and cigar smoking in the last week or so. My dad and I slayed the Walleyes in Huron Bay off of Lake Superior last weekend. Okay, maybe “slayed” isn’t the right word. However, the one Walleye I did catch won me a large pot of money! After work today, I’ll be fishing the Walleye Capital of the World, Little Bay de Noc, which is a stone’s throw away from my backdoor. Well, enough with me. Now onto the review!
Back in February, General Cigar Company announced the latest edition to their Punch brand, the Punch Signature. Produced in Danli, Honduras by Master Blender Agustin Garcia, the Punch Signature is available in four vitolas: Rothschild (4 ½ by 5), Robusto (5 by 54), Torpedo (5.8 by 62), and Gigante (6 by 60). Singles range in price from $5.39 to $7.39, but heavy discounts can be easily spotted online with a quick search. A blog post over at punchcigars.com provided the back story on the creation of the blend:
Development of the Punch Signature blend began in 2012. Agustin and his team found a small batch of Ecuadoran tobacco they wanted to use, but had to ensure that they would be able to have enough to make Punch Signature a full-time addition to Punch.
So they started working with a grower to cultivate this special Ecuadoran Corojo wrapper which we had grown exclusively for this cigar. The hardcore cigar lovers among you will be happy to know that the wrapper is related to the original Cuban Corojo seed. The Punch blending team in Honduras aged and sorted the tobacco, and prepared them for launch three years later.
Samples Provided by General Cigar
Size: 5 by 54
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Corojo
Binder: Connecticut Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan and Dominican
Smoke Time: 1 Hour and 35 Minutes
The white band is eye catching against the dark brown Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper that has its fair share of small veins, bumps, and oils. As I roll the cigar under my fingers, the abundant oils on the leaf can be easily felt.
Off of the wrapper, I find notes of barnyard and faint vanilla sweetness. The foot shows off notes of cherry, chocolate, and cedar. A quick cut through the double cap opens up an easy draw with just the right amount of resistance. Rich cedar followed by cherry and chocolate greet my palate on the dry draw. Additionally, there are some potpourri-like spices.
The Punch Signature is opening with full flavors and a decent amount of spice. Each draw produces a copious amount of thick, chewy smoke with flavors of cedar, earth or leather notes, and a bit of a char taste. The burn, which began jagged, is straightening out. The spice is sharp as it passes through the sinuses and leaves a lingering sting. I think I’ll be keeping the retrohales to a minimum. At about the one inch mark, the heavy flavors begin to mellow out, along with the spice.
Entering the second third of the Punch Signature, the flavors noted earlier are becoming much richer and an unidentifiable sweetness is peaking through in the background. The mouth feel of the smoke remains full, coating all areas with its creamy texture. A small amount of chocolate, joined with more earthy notes, are picked up on the long finish. The burn has a mind of its own switching from wavy to jagged to just about perfect.
Burning down to the last two inches of the Punch Signature, the spice has calmed, almost making a complete exit from the profile. The cedar is developing, the sweetness (maybe vanilla-bean) is rounding out the profile, and a dark fruit flavor arrives with just over an inch and a half remaining. The strength is medium/full as the Punch Signature comes to a close.
Punch has been one of my favorite brands in the extensive General Cigar Co. portfolio. The Punch London Club Maduro, a 5 by 40 Petit Corona, was my go-to smoke a few year back and I still enjoy them here and there. Between the price-point, exceptional construction, and just good ole’ flavors, it is hard for me to complain when it comes to Punch. And most of that has not changed after smoking the Punch Signature. No touch-ups were required on this wacky burning cigars, the flaky ash held firm, and the smoke production exceeded expectation. After the char flavor departed in the first third, I found myself enjoying the stick much more. The richness, sweetness, and the dark fruit created a nice combination of flavors, especially in the middle and final thirds. For under $7, the Punch Signature is worth a shot. For me, the Punch Signature is few steps behind the London Club and Rare Corojo.