Punch Knuckle Buster | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan
Size: 6 x 50 Toro
Strength: Medium
Price: $5.49 (Almost a buck less online)

Today we take a look at the new Punch Knuckle Buster.
Received samples from Cigars International.
The sticks have received 6 weeks of humi time.

From Cigar Aficionado:
“A set of brass knuckles on a cigar band might lead you to think that the cigar it adorns is going to be a powerful smoke. But that’s not exactly what General Cigar had in mind when it came up with the Punch Knuckle Buster. It’s a wallet-friendly, relatively inexpensive brand coming out next month that’s meant to fall in the middle of the strength spectrum. According to General, the cigar is a ‘hardworking blend for hardworking people.’

“General explains that the name was inspired by University of Virginia college basketball coach Tony Bennett, who once described a rough-and-tumble game as a “blue collar knuckle buster.
Despite the tough-guy name, Punch Knuckle Buster’s biggest attraction is not its power, but its price. The brand comes in three sizes, and all of them are slated to retail for less than $6.”

Gordo 6.3 x 60 $5.99
Robusto 4.5 x 52 $4.99
Toro 6 x 50 $5.49

What I love most about the cigar’s look is the bright oiliness on the slightly toothy wrapper. It nearly shimmers. Construction is what you expect from a value cigar…lumpy, bumpy, exposed but tight seams, and lots of veins. A double cap adorns the business end of the stick.

Instantly, a huge wallop of sweet caramel hits the schnoz. Followed by notes of milk chocolate, vanilla cream, a very mild touch of sweet onion, cappuccino, cinnamon, black pepper, cedar, malt, and barnyard.
The cold draw presents flavors of cinnamon, vanilla frosting, black coffee, malt, cedar, black pepper, and peppermint.

The resistance is spot on, so I put away my PerfecDraw draw adjustment tool away for the next cigar.

Black pepper goes up to bat first, and then some mild notes of caramel, malt, milk chocolate, cinnamon, cedar, coffee, and almonds.

Actually, this cigar tastes pretty good. It begins with a surprising note of complexity. For a $5 cigar, it’s impressing the shit out of me.

The strength is an even going medium. There is a gorgeous finish on my lips and teeth…that doesn’t dissipate.
The burn is exemplary…wasn’t expecting that.

Punch doesn’t discuss the aging of the tobacco but clearly something in the leaf stats has something special going on. A Punch cigar ready to go in just a month of humi time is bitch’n cool.

The only thing comparable to its burgeoning complexity is its early balance that swoops in and coats my palate.

I’ve noticed over the years that I’ve rarely met someone in a cigar lounge that has ever read an online review. Now, that I’m working at a cigar lounge, this has been confirmed. Not only has not a single customer read a review online, but many aren’t even aware that they are there for the taking.

And what is even more surprising is that when given the chance to advance their palate based upon expert advice, at least half aren’t interested. They like their $6 Gran Habanos and that’s it. I am so tempted to say to these guys when they step up to the register…”Really?” But then most cigar smokers come to cigar lounges for the camaraderie and booze.

The Knuckle Buster is pure cream now. The spiciness is just sneaking behind the corner of the palate and gives a perfect counter punch to the savory qualities…sourdough bread, butter, soy sauce, and smoky oak.

This $5 cigar beats the shit out of a $6 Gran Habano.

The ash is displaying stalwart qualities as it refuses to jettison from the mother ship.
This is a great morning stick. It’s also a great night ending cigar with a nice bourbon.
I was so hesitant about reviewing this cigar; especially as I’m doing it blind because I didn’t light one up prior to this review. My snobbish attitude told me that there is no way a $5 Punch was going to be any good…and I had my list of inappropriate insults at the ready. Well, fuck me.

Now here is a great stick to keep handy in one’s humidor.

The blend advances like Napoleon’s army. The richness shows itself. The balance is still happily surprising.

Transitions begin; allowing me to taste the blender’s intent. Flashes of the earlier described flavors whiz by with just enough hesitancy to allow my brain to enjoy each passing component.

Easy going. Flavorful. Interesting. Don’t need much else. And I like the medium strength. I’m normally a sucker for a medium/full or full tilt blend but this is a treat for the senses. It doesn’t push and shove. It queues up and keeps feeding my palate like a throbbing teat.

The Knuckle Buster was only released a week ago. And CI is backordered. So, the buzz must have excited smokers.

Confirmation that this is a good deal…”All Along The Watchtower” by Jimi is playing.

New flavors do not appear, but I find nothing wrong with this. It started with a panoply of lilting elements that snagged my attention and it remains on that journey.
Spiciness moves to the forefront. I do not know if this is a pre-cursor to the cigar becoming stronger…we shall see.

It just defined the reason for the added spiciness, the cigar blend is moving to the next level. The complexity becomes more determined. The finish explodes on my lips. Transitions are no longer moving slowly…doing the 40 in 4.4.

My first sip of water and the flavors coalesce. Savory v. sweet blasts out of hiding and does the duck walk. Again, you could knock me over with a cattle prod. I was expecting a plain, linear tasting stick…not even close. Kudos, Punch.

The construction has been immaculate. The burn needs no touch ups. WTF?

A box of these Toros from CI brings the price down to $4.39. This is fucking insane. Even a fiver keeps the price under $5.

I’d love to see them hit Cigarbid.com…but as these cigars were just released and they are good sticks, it’s going to be a while before they show up on auction sites.

The halfway point arrives.

Know what surprised more than anything about working in a cigar lounge? I’ve found that middle aged men love to talk about music. They are endless streams of thoughts about the greats and near greats. I get a boner as soon as someone starts talking 70’s rock or the blues…but the boner doesn’t last long as I’m 70 years old. I get lightheaded.

The Knuckle Buster is just cruising Whittier Blvd. It is steady and consistent. No sudden jerks in the wrong direction. Fuck me. I do not remember a cigar at this price point being so satisfying.

The blend improves with each puff. Now, it’s not earth shattering; but for less than a fiver, it is mind bending to my ‘I know it all’ mentality.

Another thing I’ve noticed…when I first started at Prime Cigar and worked behind the bar; when not helping folks in the walk-in humidor…is that no one cursed. You can always count on the katman to change that bullshit. I curse first and then it becomes a snow blizzard of obscenities from everyone as if they have been freed from bondage. You know how hard it is to be in public and control your dirty mouth. I have released that politically correct crap into the ether.

This is going to be an hour and fifteen-minute smoke. That is only 6 cents per minute. I’m a trained mathematician. Don’t try this at home.

The hooker I went to in Amsterdam charged me $1.50 per minute. And she wouldn’t stop telling me: “C’mon…can’t you cum?” Like over and over until I told her to shut up. She wouldn’t take off her halter top unless I paid her an extra 5 Guilders. I was naked at the time and unable to reach my wallet; so, she let me put my hand down her front instead…and that’s when I started singing Paul Simon’s “Keep the Customer Satisfied.” My hand to God…that really happened.
While I doubt this cigar will cause an orgasm, it is certainly a cheap date.

I have no idea how to rate this cigar. The last third will give me time to decide.
The cinnamon does a reach-around. The nuttiness shines. The creaminess is blissful.
Strength remains at an even keeled medium.
A little nicotine shows itself but nothing that will cause blindness of shrunken testicles.

We are in the home stretch of what’s been a very laid back enjoyable smoking experience. Dang me. They ought to take a rope and hang me.

As the cigar sees its impending death, it ramps up the flavors for one last ditch effort to please and satiate.

Nothing about this blend has been linear. It remained interesting from the first puff and kept my interest and doomed any opportunity for me to swear like Richard Pryor.

If you’re a cigar snob worse than me, I don’t know what to tell you. It ain’t a Casdagli. But it has shown that time and thought were put into the blending of this baby.

I would have no problem snagging a box. If you can’t smoke the thing down to the nub due to time constraints, no worries. It’s a fucking $5 stick!

I’m required by my contract with Milwaukee Police Tactical to insert at least 6 obscenities in each review. Don’t want to mess with those fuckers.

The cigar gets even better. Chock full of flavor and perfect balance. I’m dying to criticize the cigar, but I can’t.

I do nub the stick. The last third is killer. And this tells me with more humi time, it’s going to do some serious ass kicking.
You guys must try this cigar. Get a fiver and tell me I’m wrong.


And now for something completely different:
The Sonja Kristina Chronicles…

I was tasked during our first tour (1974 Curved Air) to keep a secret from the band about Sonja’s rehab. She was a morphine addict that used a needle. She was getting help from a private doctor who put her on methadone…injected.

Within days, it nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. Here I was. A kid from California and whisked away into the big time, from being a bar band bassist, to one of the biggest progressive rock bands in Europe, Japan, and South America. They just couldn’t budge in North America. They tried but just couldn’t break…although, Brit progressive nerds in this country know the band well.

Sonja’s instability, while tapering off her morphine addiction, was horrifying. Never saw anything like that. Realized just how naïve middle-class America I was.

She had serious insecurity issues. On the albums, before this tour, she sang with a lovely, soaring soprano voice.

On the tour, the addiction really fucked her up and she thought she was Janis. Some of the written reviews of our concerts were devastating for her. Time after time they wrote that the band was brilliant, and I got mentioned a lot for bringing new life to the rhythm section. I was playing jazz fusion while they were playing classical music rock. No soul.
Every time Sonja read a review; suicide attempts came within hours.

She used to cut her wrists a lot. But she would use blunt instruments to do so. All she accomplished was to scar her wrists and arms.

We played in Dover. Jeff Beck was there. Jazz violinist Jean Luc Ponty was there. And Mahavishnu Orchestra violinist Jerry Goodman was there. They jammed with us during our encores.

In the dressing room, after the show, I shoved Sonja into the bathroom and told her to change. We had to get back to the hotel and shoot her up with methadone. She never shot up before a concert because it made her high. Of course, the rest of the band members were high on either hash or alcohol. But no matter. They’d gone through this with Sonja for years and the caveat for doing the album and tour was that she remained straight the whole time.

So, they couldn’t know she was a junkie. At that time, Stewart Copeland and Sonja became an item. Stew was the only person to know because he had moved in with her.

By the time we would get back to the hotel, she was long overdue for that methadone shot.

All three of those monster guest musicians were visiting in the dressing room and I forgot about Sonja.
I dashed to the bathroom. She had been in there for over an hour. I knocked. No answer. I knocked again and again. No answer.

That was it. I couldn’t take it anymore. I went back to the dressing room and told the band what was going on. They were livid.

We all tried to cajole Sonja out of the bathroom, but she never made a sound, so we broke the door in.

There she sat. On the toilet. Unconscious and her arms extended away from her body with blood running down them. They were superficial wounds caused by a bottle opener.

We carried her to the couch in the dressing room and I went into my gig bag and got her stuff. Minutes later, she was fine.

The tour lasted 8 weeks. The band was in an uproar when they found out Sonja didn’t keep her word. Darryl threatened to quit the tour.

I was the peacemaker as I had finally found the big time and didn’t want to lose it. Naturally, this position made me rife for being the eventual scapegoat a couple years later. Someone had to be sacrificed for a poor recording of an album that RCA rejected; so why not pick the one least responsible for the problems? The bassist of course. The peacemaker.

Sonja and Stewart Copeland eventually married.

Back then, Stew was not half the drummer he was in The Police. He would constantly solo like Keith Moon. And this pissed off Darryl something awful. He and the guitarist would be up front and center on the stage trading riffs and Stew was soloing. They had no idea where “1” was. So, I started playing quarter notes and accenting the down beat count, so they knew where they were. I had to abandon my cool riffs to play quarter notes.

Like clockwork, Stew got fired by Darryl every single week. A brouhaha would break out and Sonja would threaten to leave the band if Stew went.

So, every week, fired…re-hired…fired…re-hired. Tiresome for the morale of the band.
Sonja finally got well after that first tour. She became productive and began to write songs again. But the rancor between her and Darryl never went away.

Darryl was probably the most arrogant S.O.B.’s I had ever met in the music biz. It was impossible to please him and, of course, his shit didn’t stink.

Darryl invited my girlfriend and me to move in with him in the little town of Datchet outside of London. We were 5 minutes away from Windsor Castle. It was a great deal and we would save money. Darryl still approved of me at that time in the band.
But as things do, shit happened….to be continued.


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6 replies

  1. Phil, hope your lounge stays open. Just got word the Federal stores in NH are all closing… at any moment… including the club out back (non public)

  2. Just like millions of Americans, I worry that I won’t have a job a week from now.
    But I’m not going to drive myself crazy over it. There isn’t anything I can do.
    I’m more concerned about Charlotte’s health as she is a cancer survivor and has COPD. And I have my own health issues.
    At this point, I’m just hoping we survive this.

  3. My kinda cigar.

    Stay healthy, solvent.

    Open a go fund me, and I’ll throw what i can your way. You introduced me to Crook of the Crown, and i owe you for that, and more…

    Also….if you want for cigars i got Brick House Double Connecticuts and a couple of Isabellas free to a good home….

  4. We are fine. Thank you for your offer but we are good.
    My daughter lost her job today as the business closed down.
    I have cigars to last; unless we get sick and then smoking isn’t possible anyway.
    Wisconsin hasn’t been hit hard yet. 72 cases but schools in the state are now shut down.
    Curfews are in effect.
    I guess we shall see how we humans navigate something no one has experienced in our lifetime.
    Thanks again…stay safe and well to everyone,

  5. Thanks for putting me onto these. They are so freaking good! (Much better than the 300 Hands, which you also reviewed.)

  6. Hi Katman,

    I love the colorful and detailed review as i sut on my patio enjoying my Knucklebuster with a glass of Elijah Craig small batch! Are you in the Milwaukee area? Would love to enjoy one if these with you.



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