Among the brands that make up Habanos S.A, Punch is one of the elder statesmen in the ranks. The brand was founded in 1840 in Havana, by Don Manuel Lopez, owner of the J. Valle & Cia cigar company. It was targeted at Europe in general, and Great Britain specifically, as such the brand was named with a nod to the humourous puppet, Mr. Punch (you may have heard of Punch and Judy shows..). The roots of Mr. Punch can be traced back to 16th century Italian commedia dell’arte, and this art form had made a comeback in no minor way during the 1900’s. During the course of the productions, Punch behaves quite outrageously, but manages to overcome trials and tribulations and comes out as the victor in the end. Mr. Punch still appears in his motley garb on the brands’ cigar dress boxes to this day, with images of the cigar making process surrounding him. Punch is a Multi-local brand with general availability and they are made from premium tobacco from the Veulta Abajo region of Cuba.
Produced as a Julieta #2 in factory parlance, the Churchill vitola measures 7 inches(178 mm) by 47 ring gauge, quite a commitment cigar-wise. This cigar was chosen to attend the Willowdale Swim Club Adult Social annual get-together, a kind of end-of-summer commemoration party held at the club right in Cherry Hill, NJ, in the Eagle Oak subdivision. This event is always tons of fun, with a live rock and roll band providing entertainment this year. The food was plentiful and delicious, the beverages aided in decompression from a long work week, so a long relaxing cigar with some fortitude was definitely required as well! This the example smoked was received quite some time ago, although neither the exact date nor the box codes were recorded this cigar has had at least 3 years of humidor time. The time in storage did manage to damage the stick slightly, with a small piece of wrapper going AWOL near the head of the cigar, which did not affect the draw properties at all. Otherwise, the wrapper was a cocoa colored leaf of fine quality with very mild veining, with the beautiful gilt Punch band with red and white accents. Once cut, the Prelight Draw was tasty, with honey and grassy notes surrounding a core of well aged tobacco. Once lit and running, the flavors were earth and dark wood with notes of green pepper, these flavors remained fairly consistent for the duration. The smoke was rich and mouth coating with a medium full body that edged closer to the full side as the cigar burned down. Some slow burning wrapper issues were resolved with torch touch ups, but the environment was probably more to blame (sitting outdoors on a cool evening by a large pool of water) than any construction issue. A very enjoyable cigar that lasted about 2 hours with judicious smoking.
The Punch Churchill is a cigar that is highly regarded and sought by many who enjoy rich, large format cigars. Sadly, after undergoing packaging cuts in both 2006 and 2009, the Churchill was finally discontinued altogether in 2010. So, should any of this vitola come your way, one would be well advised to snatch up as many as one could!
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