Punch Diablo by AJ Fernandez | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra Oscuro ~ Aged 4 years
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Honduran Habano Jamastran Ligero, Nicaraguan Habano Estelí Ligero, Nicaraguan Habano Ometepe Ligero
Size: 5.25 x 54 Diabolus
Strength: Medium/Full
Price: $7.79 ($5.06 by the 5 pack/$4.65 by the 25-count box from Cigar Page)

Today we take a look at the Punch Diablo by AJ Fernandez.
Samples provided by General Cigar.

BACKGROUND:
Released at 2018 IPCPR trade show.
From Cigar Aficionado June 29, 2018:
“A new Punch will debut at next month’s trade show, and it marks several firsts: It will be the first Punch from brand owner General Cigar made outside of Honduras, and it’s being called the strongest cigar ever from that venerable brand, which has been made since the 1960s.

“Punch Diablo is being rolled in Nicaragua by A.J. Fernandez, a cigarmaker known for making strong smokes. “When it came time to create the blend for Diablo, we decided that we wanted to make the fullest-bodied Punch to date,” said Ed Lahmann, senior brand manager for Punch.

“Fernandez made the cigar from a four-country blend of tobaccos. The wrapper is from Ecuador, a Sumatra-seed leaf General is calling oscuro. Another dark leaf was used for the binder—broadleaf from the Connecticut River Valley outside of Hartford. The filler is a mix of Nicaraguan and Honduran leaves grown from Cuban seed.

“General said the cigar would be medium-full to full in body.

“The promised power level and the vitola names all match with the Diablo brand name—Diablo is the Spanish word for devil. Punch Diablo comes in three sizes. Scamp measures 6 1/8 inches by 50 ring gauge and has a suggested retail of $7.19; Diabolus is 5 1/4 by 54 and sells for $7.79, and Brute is a 6 1/4 by 60 smoke with an $8.19 price tag.”

SIZES AND PRICING:
Scamp: 6.125 x 50 $7.19
Diabolus: 5.25 x 54 $7.79
Brute: 6.25 x 60 $8.19

APPEARANCE:
The oily wrapper is the same color as my black heart. Dipped in 10-40. But has tight seams and a few tree trunk sized veins. The triple cap is spotless.
The cigar feels perfectly filled without a sign of hard on points or soft and limp noodle parts. Nice looking stick.

SMELL THE GLOVE:
Aromas are very mild: Cream, black pepper, espresso, cedar, barnyard, earth, wind, and leather, and black licorice. With just a touch of cocoa and raisins.
The cold draw presents flavors of cumin, malt, barnyard, almonds, black pepper, and some peppermint.

FIRST THIRD:
The draw is tougher than I thought so I grab my PerfecDraw cigar poker and tool and remedy the situation in just a couple pokes.
A rush of flavors pile in: Black pepper, creaminess, black cherries covered in chocolate, malt, cedar, licorice, Indian spices, raisins, mint, and smoked meat.
Nice start.

I’ve had these sticks marinating naked in my humidor for 3 months. Apparently, I’ve hit pay dirt. Don’t make me eat those words.

This is a heavy cigar. It hangs from my open maw like a dog with a very big bone. It is packed to the hilt. Therefore, I’m on a long journey before this baby dies.
Strength hits medium/full like a rocket.

A nice salty caramel finish arrives on the scene. It really slams home the creaminess.
The burn is spot on.

While I’m not much of a Punch fan, this blend is surprising me with a bushelful of flavor components and complexity.

It smokes like a much more expensive stick. The creaminess is out of this world. The rest of the gang of flavors follow exponentially. The balance between sweet and savory is on the money.
Then it dawns on me…AJ.

This is one more of the thousands of versions of AJ Fernandez blends. Which I like. But what’s next? Quorum by AJ? Rum Crooks by AJ? AJ by AJ? I believe it is getting a little out of hand with every manufacturer looking for the AJ magic. When in truth, from my sources, he’s an arrogant little prick. This ain’t no closely guarded industry secret. He’s an arrogant little prick. But I love the way he walks.

So, instead of a normal Punch, we have something that’s a cross between Man O’ War, San Lotano Maduro, Puro Authentico, and AJ Last Call Maduro.

The price is killer. If I had blind taste tested this cigar, I’d have said it was a $10 stick. You need to do your research on buying these as prices are all over the place. Cigar Page’s deal is on for who knows how long?

And they are the best deal going at around $5 a stick or less. And so far, I believe they are box worthy at $116 for 25 sticks. Nice knockaround cigar.

The blend is very complex. I read a couple other reviews who probably didn’t allow the cigar to mellow for very long before they had to write a review. They complained it wasn’t very complex. Wrong.

The transitions are a wonder. Morphing, twisting, and curling up in all sorts of fashion creating an ever-moving flavor profile. The finish is tantalizing because of the creaminess and licorice.

I tried a couple a month in and then two months in. Nope. Not ready. Three months was the trick.

I let my coffee get cold. “Wind Cries Mary” distracted me.

The fruitiness emerges by planting its flag. Black cherries, chocolate covered raisins, a touch of light melon, and black grapes.
I expected this to be a dud review. I really did. Good ol’ AJ.

SECOND THIRD:
The average rating this cigar got from other reviewers hovered in the 85 arena. They’re wrong.

This is a good cigar. Enveloped by a more than decent complexity, tasty transitions, and a mighty fine finish. The balance is important as it meets the criteria for my palate. Just a lovely blend.

Actually, the Punch Diablo is better than most of the other more expensive brands who affix the AJ moniker to their limited blends.

Smooth but the strength remains at medium/full; but without any harshness or too peppery. Balance…have I mentioned that?
The construction is just fine. The burn needs no help from me. The draw is good.

A sip of water and my pants explode. I get green goo all over the carpet. The cat will lick it up later with his 5pm martini.

I do believe that Punch should have produced a Corona Gorda. I bet it would be spectacular.

The cherries and the raisins and the caramel and the dark chocolate and the supreme commander of the Creaminess and the licorice are screaming laughter.
I’d like a little more malt, please.

Oh God. “Proud Mary” is on. At last count, I believe I’ve had to play that song in 6,492 bands. And not once, did we ever do the Tina Turner version. And I look pretty good in a short skirt.

I expected the blend to hit full tilt by now. Clearly, this is a sneaky bastard…waiting til the last third to give me a wedgie…while I projectile vomit from the nicotine.

The Allman Brothers…what can I say?

The density of this tobacco sausage is causing a relaxing slow roll. Every corner turned brings something new to the experiment. It keeps making my hump change from one side to another. Must have picked the wrong brain.

I’m now leaning back in my office chair just whimpering with joy and taking leisurely puffs from the Punch Diablo.
See. It’s the name. Diablo. I expected, and rightly so, that this blend would cause testicular reduction while causing temporary comas to phase in and out.

Or maybe it is due to the fact I like strong cigars. I don’t know. I’m just a schmuck who ended up in Milwaukee. And just why are the women so fat here?

I am going to finish the review. I am going over to Cigar Page. And I’m going to buy me plenty of these things. This is a perfect go-to cigar. Perfect.

LAST THIRD:
Haven’t declared this for a while. Flavor Bomb!

This blend is smoother than the gel in my Depends. Smoother than waxing my legs before sex…with a woman…or small exotic nocturnal animal. Hedgehogs like to whimper uncontrollably during sex. Did I say that out loud? Is there something wrong with me? Don’t.

The Punch Diablo is a satisfying blend. Way more than a $5 stick normally finds itself.
The smoky meatiness is making me hungry.

The strength remains at medium/full. I was sure it would knock me off my chair. Maybe the inherent smoothness of the blend is keeping the strength in check. The name should be changed to Mini-Diablo. “My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low-grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a 15-year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet.”

There is no dead end for the complexity or maxi transitions. It actually becomes smoother the smaller the pug gets.

See how important it is to allow your sticks to mellow out before ripping off the cello and popping it in your mouth? The same goes for a Slim Jim. The mystery meat does take on an unworldly gestation before turning into a blob of fat. Was that another slam at Milwaukee women?

I believe another couple months of humidor time will turn the Punch Diablo into Rodan.
The constant shifts, the endless display of flavors, and its immigration status become living proof that a good cigar need not cost $12.

Definitely trust your Uncle Katman on this one.

RATING: 91

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10 replies

  1. Phil I didn’t hesitate, went to CP and there they were. Thank for the tip good fellow

  2. Phil, didn’t even think. Went to CP and got a tenner to lay away. Just hope I can leave them alone a while.

  3. The Diablo sounds pretty good! The advertised strength always turned me away but I think I’ll try a few. Thanks for the review!

    • I went into it the same way…but I like strong cigars. What I was worried about were the influence of the first two I smoked. Way too much black pepper. Not so after 3 months humi time.

  4. I like the Punch brand overall as I did a review of this stick awhile back. I agree with you , overall it’s a great price point and fun to smoke. It’s no In Memory of Elizabeth Reed but more of of a Whipping Post taste.

  5. Man I wish I had the same experience smoking this stick you did. My stick tastes literally of burnt wood and miracle grow. Had it naked in my humidor about 4 or 5 months and was utterly disgusting

    • Well, that sucks. Did you have that experience with each Diablo you purchased?
      Build a bonfire and roast them in effigy.
      Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. Marshal on.
      Phil

      • I only purchased the 1. I usually like to try 1 before I buy a 5 pack if possible, and can usually tell if they need more time and this one just was not to my liking I guess.

  6. Hedgehogs now. Holy shit, what’s with you and the animal sex lately? Should I be worried about your cat? I would expect that having sex with a hedgehog could be…tricky.

    I ALMOST bought these about 50 times but never pulled the trigger. I also wished there was a Corona Gorda; a nice 5.5 or 6×46. I think I will try the “Scamp” with the 50 ring gauge on this one.

    Milwaukee women? Two things; sausage and cheese curds.

  7. I just went on the Cigar Page website. They have 10 packs of the Punch Diablo starting at $43.15.

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