Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Nicaraguan (Esteli Ligero)
Length: 5.5 x 54 Robusto Extra
Price: $6.39 MSRP ($5.75+/- online)
Today we take a look at the Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua.
I bought a couple sticks at my local B&M almost 3 months ago. I paid $5.75 each.
Released: February 2017
From the Cigar Aficionado web site:
“Fans of Punch cigars are going to have a new version next month—the Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua. The cigars are made in Honduras at the STG Danlí factory (a.k.a. HATSA), and are loaded with Nicaraguan tobacco.
“Owned and distributed by General Cigar Co., the Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua is an offshoot of the Punch Gran Puro line, a cigar brand launched in 2003 made of only Honduran tobacco. (The Punch Gran Puro Santa Rita size was named Cigar Aficionado’s No. 10 cigar of 2016.)
“Although the word “puro” is in the name, Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua cigars are not puros by definition. While the high-priming binder and filler tobacco is from Nicaragua, the cigars are enveloped in a Connecticut broadleaf wrapper.
“It comes in four sizes—4 7/8 by 48, 5 1/2 by 54, 6 by 54 and 7 1/2 by 54—and is slated to retail from $5.29 to $6.99 before taxes.
“The Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua packaging is similar to the original Punch Gran Puro with minor changes to the box’s color scheme. And while the band’s design pattern is essentially the same, the colors have changed from black and gold to blue and green. The same heraldic Punch coat-of-arms remains as its central motif.
“Like many of General Cigar’s heritage lines, Punch is a non-Cuban version of a venerable Cuban cigar brand. After Fidel Castro took control of Cuba and nationalized the cigar industry, Punch brand-owner Fernando Palacios fled Cuba and sold the Punch trademark to Villazon & Co., which produced a U.S.-friendly, parallel version of Punch without Cuban tobacco. In 1997, General Cigar acquired Villazon and all its brands.”
SIZES AND PRICES (MSRP):
Robusto 4.875 x 48 $5.29
Robusto Extra 5.5 x 54 $6.39
Toro 6 x 54 $6.49
Double Corona 7.5 x 54 $6.99
A very dark charcoal colored wrapper…nearly looks like an Elvis dye job.
The wrapper is very toothy with a bumpy lumpy rustic appearance and feel. Yet seams are nearly invisible and veins are almost unnoticeable. The triple cap is one of the slickest I’ve seen.
AROMAS AND COLD DRAW POINTS:
From the shaft, I can smell root beer, spiciness, a slight smokiness, chocolate covered cherries, cedar, chocolate, barnyard, and a touch of cream.
From the clipped cap and the foot, I can smell big doses of dark chocolate, root beer, red hot pepper, licorice root, cream, chocolate cherries, cedar, and espresso.
The cold draw presents flavors of a root beer float, red pepper, smoky cedar, chocolate cherries, espresso, chocolate, licorice, and graham cracker.
The draw is impossible. Out comes my PerfecDraw cigar poker and I ream the sucker til you can drive a 1953 Studebaker through it.
This is a heavy cigar. It lists as it hangs from my mouth as I type. Sort of a limpy wiener effect.
First up are flavors of root beer, cane sugar sweetness, malts, espresso, cedar, and a touch of chili powder.
The Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua starts off like a champ with an onslaught of flavor, character, immediate transitions, nice finish and a glimpse of complexity right from the first puffs.
The burn is spot on.
This catalog blend is far from pedestrian. It shows that smart design, good tobacco, knowhow, and an admirable lack of greed can produce a fine blend without needing to spend $10+.
A variety of malts make it a brewer’s holiday. The root beer plus the dash of creaminess is a delicious combo. The spiciness wavers between black and red peppers.
A lilting smokiness gives the blend’s flavor a nice edge causing excessive lip smacking in order to enjoy the long finish. One day, when I am very old and can no longer smoke cigars; I will be sitting in a wheel chair in some retirement home smacking my lips from fond memories. As a result, I will attract all the old gummer women who think I’m a sex machine.
Each time I down a swig of water, the licorice root gets a big boost.
Strength is medium. But not for long.
Black walnuts, orange oil, various dried fruits, meaty, heavier dark cocoa, and the smokiness make this afternoon tea.
All in all, an excellent everyday cigar to tickle your palate til it screams for another one.
Smoke time is 35 minutes.
The second third starts with a smooth transition of flavors on an upward trajectory that is making the Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua a show off.
Strength hits medium/full.
The blend hits its first sweet spot with deep complexity and a flavor car wash.
The root beer, licorice, creaminess, and smokiness are the bedrock of this blend. Other incidental flavors come and go like a whirling dervish accentuating and improving the mainstay flavors of this blend.
If I had blind taste tested the Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua I would never have guessed it was only a $6 stick. It easily fits into the boutique world of much more expensive blends. And this is a regular production cigar so you don’t have to kill yourself trying to find the dough to buy it within 24 hours because after that it’s gone. Nope. You can take all the deliberation time you need while looking for a great deal on these cigars.
The halfway point is 45 minutes into the cigar experience.
Smooth. While being a potent cigar, the perfect balance is achieved and things flow swimmingly like a sea of swarming simbas.
If you purchase a box of 20, the price drops to only $5 per stick. I can live with that.
I read a couple reviews that were less than kind. I smoked my first one a month after I bought them. It was OK but definitely old school requiring months of humidor time. Allowing this review stick to simmer for 3 months did the trick. So ignore the reviews that bash it as clearly the reviewer did not allow the cigar to cook in its own juices long enough.
I don’t remember smoking a $5 stick this complex before. Transitions of flavors are going bat shit crazy. Love it. Though I am slightly disappointed that the spiciness has diminished some.
Smoke time is one hour 5 minutes.
The major sweet spot is upon me at this juncture.
One last time…root beer, licorice, creaminess, citrus, chocolate, coffee, cedar, sweet dried fruit, salty mixed nuts, chocolate covered cherries, smokiness, meaty, and black pepper.
The Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua worms itself into full strength with all the grace and smoothness of an expensive, overpriced boutique blend.
Nicotine joins the pachyderm procession at the back end. And I’m the guy with the shovel.
You’re going to dig this cigar. Remember…patience.
The Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua is a great go to cigar for those times when you don’t have the time to really sit down and enjoy something in your humidor you’ve been looking forward to. You can smoke this blend anytime and it won’t let you down. No need to smoke a cheap piece of crap while you run errands.
Yesterday, I reviewed a dud…CLE Azabache. How nice to follow it up with a solid, tasty, inexpensive cigar.
The cigar is most definitely box worthy. Keep an eye out for sales.
With 1-1/2” to go, the Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua belly’s up to the bar and shows no indication of harshness or bitterness as this powerhouse heads towards its own demise.
The flavor attack never ceases. The transitions and complexity make this a joyful smoke.
You can buy 5 packs from $24-$31 depending on size.
I recommend this stick. I have to figure out how to get a box without my wife finding out I spent a C Note on cigars. Penalties are harsh. I’m now deathly afraid of butt plugs.
Final smoke time is one hour 35 minutes.
And now for something completely different:
I’ve re-published this story so many times but I love it…You can’t make up shit like this. I first wrote about this in a review in 2012.
So here it is again because I am lucky enough to see the addition of more manic depressive, self-loathing, readers to the long list of masochists who read me. I apologize to long time readers. Your Quorum is in the mail.
A Bizarre Night w/Andy Kaufman (Latka of “TAXI”) True Story
Yes. Bizarre is the only way to describe it.
I was smack dab in the middle of my professional musical career. I had attained some peer cred and therefore got to do and see things.
I had come off of playing bass with the English band Curved Air. Claim to fame: “The Police” drummer Stewart Copeland was my band mate.
I came back to Long Beach, CA after my stint in jolly old England, and opened a recording studio, production company and management company. Claim to fame: I took a project to the charts…a novelty single called “Whatever Happened to Eddie?” starring Butch (Eddie Munster) Patrick. We took the theme from “The Munsters” and added our own lyrics and re-recorded the music for the times….1983.
I was also playing in a band (The Attitude) making the local charts with our kick ass version of Elvis’ “Hound Dog.” Little Richard played piano on the cut. You can watch it on YouTube by clicking HERE. Remember this was pre-MTV.
Life was good. The early 80’s were the years made famous by the Beverly Hills Diet of cocaine and champagne. And I had dough. You can take it from there.
I had a hanger-on friend named Marshall. Marshall was a bona fide, big time, radio disc jockey. He became a fan of my band and then became friends, to this day, with little Eddie Munster. And even played the sax player in the music video. Marshall was a scene stealer as he had zero musical ability on the sax but pulled it off. Watch the “Whatever Happened to Eddie?” video</a>.
In December of 1981, he got VIP tickets to the release of Hanukkah Rocks by Gefilte Joe & The Fish on RHINO Records.
The release was at the famous Improv in Hollywood. Marshall asked me to go with him because he knew I’d have coke….He chose me rather than take his girlfriend because he didn’t want to have to buy his own coke. Mooching was better.
That’s where I met him. Andy Kaufman. Latka of the sit/com “TAXI.” The party was a blast and the Improv was full of celebrities.
As the hours burned, there were 5 of us left in the club sitting at the same booth. Me. Marshall. Andy. Some guy and his girlfriend.
We sat at a large half circle booth with Andy in the middle. The “other” guy asked Andy about the wrestling thing he was doing.
Andy, for some reason, decided his next campaign in the world of improvisational art, would be the world of wrestling. It quickly went from wrestling men to wrestling women. The men were kicking his ass because he made fun of the “sport.”
So he would challenge any woman in the audience. Sometimes, he won. Sometimes, he didn’t. It became a nationwide joke.
We all sat there in the booth, hugging our Hanukkah gifts. Including a record called Hanukkah Rocks shaped like a Star of David, in blue, with 2 songs on each side. It was a very cool trophy.
Andy began to weave the history of wrestling to us. Unless you knew him, you really didn’t know what his voice sounded like. Obviously, it wasn’t that of Foreign Man or Latka. And it didn’t sound like Elvis. He had sort of a milque toast voice, a little high, but quiet, when he spoke. You had to lean in.
We listened and contributed and had a very normal conversation with one of the craziest entertainers in the world. Then Marshall asked Andy if he would wrestle the girl sitting with us. He agreed without thought. Same with the chick.
There was a small dance floor, about 10 feet square, in the middle of the club. Marshall stayed in the booth. The girl’s boyfriend moved to a chair at the corner of the dance floor. I moved to the opposite corner….and then we waited……and waited…while Andy seemed to be meditating with eyes closed.
Then in a rush of energy, he jumped to the top of the booth’s table and leaped off it like a crazed man. We all yelled, thinking he would fall, but he landed like a cat on the dance floor.
The X rated epithets started coming from his mouth as he hunkered into a wrestling hunch and circled the girl. He was a foul mouthed S.O.B. Yet he was the complete opposite at the table.
The chick made her move and threw Andy to the floor. It stunned him. He got up screaming at the girl, “You fucking bitch! You Cunt!” And so on. They got into a stranglehold with each other with neither was giving in. Neither falling to their knees.
Then something vicious…..Andy did a sweep with his leg, knocking the pins out from under the girl. Really nasty, because she hit the floor HARD! He then leaped into the air and dropped right on top of her to pin her. She was screaming for help. I looked over to her boyfriend and he was laughing.
In only moments, Andy counted, “1-2-3” and jumped off of her. He walked the perimeter of the dance floor with both hands in the air showing domination and accomplishment. His head was bobbing up and down, enjoying the win.
The girl could not get up. She was hurt. Andy played too rough. We all shook our heads and Marshall asked Andy why did he have to play so rough? Andy ignored him.
I helped the chick up while she dusted herself off. She was pissed off…obviously expecting something a little less violent.
We gathered our things at the table. Andy asked us all up to his place, not far from the club, to hang out the rest of the night. We all declined. We were disgusted. This guy was nuts.
Never thought in my wildest imagination I’d ever have a story like this.
One after thought…I am a very gullible person. I believe the best in people and that we are all basically good. Wrong. I had my own framed copy of the record and hung it on my office wall at my recording studio and someone stole it. In fact, all my personal music memorabilia at my studio was all eventually stolen by skanky musicians and their friends. I should have worn a visible side arm at all times.
Andrew Geoffrey Kaufmann
January 17, 1949 – May 16, 1984
Categories: CIGAR REVIEWS
Thanks Katman. I have recently been hooked by the Punch Vintage. A relatively good smoke which can be found for $3.50 each online if you have the patience to wait for sales. I saw this Gran Puro recently in my local smoke shop but was waiting to read some reviews and not CA solely, especially after their misfire on the Andalusian Bull. After reading your notes and enjoying the Vintage, I will definitely be picking up a few of these myself. Thanks again.
I’ve smoked a few of these new Gran Puro Nicaraguans myself at my local B&M, and I agree with your assessment. It’s a very solid smoke, and I am always looking for good, affordable cigars. Sometimes I feel like the Broadleaf/Nicaragua combination has become a bit overdone, without a lot of distinctive cigars. I feel like this one offers some flavors you don’t typically get with that combo.
Did you not like the Andalusian Bull?
I’d like to step in and answer the question myself…
I believe the blend is overrated. You cannot depend on Cigar Aficionado for the real scoop in their ratings fiasco. I don’t trust them. Politics, ad fees, and personalities always appear to interfere with the outcome. Ever notice that Davidoff rarely advertises? And hence, if a Davidoff is rated, I cannot remember a single one ever getting an excellent score.
The AB is a huge cigar: 6.5 x 64. I gave it a few months humidor time which is why I must have been the last reviewer to rate this cigar. The other reviewers don’t say how long the allowed the blend to mature in their humidors.
This is an old school blend probably requiring 9-12 months of humi time. When you review, you don’t have a year to get ‘er done. And I certainly do not believe that CA had their samples squirreled away for that time either. So why did CA make it their top cigar of 2016? I have no idea.
I suppose if I’d allowed it to mature properly, it would have gotten a better score. Also, note that the blend has virtually disappeared from public discussion. It’s a non starter.
I forget…what was the question?