Thursday, December 13, 2007

Punch Black Prince

Name: Black Prince
Factory Name: Corona Gorda
Ring Gauge: 46
Length: 14.30 cm /5.6 inches
Weight: 11.41 gr.
Tobacco Procedence: Vuelta Abajo
Factory: La Corona

Info: The Punch brand was first registered in 1840 by German named Stockmann and named for the European puppet show character, Mr. Punch (not the magazine, which was created a year later). The brand quickly became a success, especially in Great Britain. The first change of ownership came in 1874, when the brand was bought by a Luis Corujo, and again in 1884, when the brand was purchased by Manuel López Fernández and its bands and boxes still bear his name to this day. Retiring in 1924 and passing away shortly after, López gave ownership of the brand to Esperanza Valle Comas, who only held it for a few years before the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

Like most other businesses around the world, the Cuban cigar industry faced financial hardships. In 1930, the firm of Fernández, Palicio y Cía bought up the brand, where it became one of the company's headlining cigar marques, along with Belinda, La Escepción, and Hoyo de Monterrey, and maintained its popularity with British cigar smokers.

After the embargo was set against Cuba by the United States, Fernando Palicio fled Cuba for Florida, where he subsequently sold his cigar lines to the Frank Llaneza and Dan Blumenthal of Villazon & Co., which has continued to make Punch, Hoyo de Monterrey, and Belinda cigars from Honduran tobacco for the American market.

Cuba subsequently nationalized the tobacco industry and Punch continued production and is still a popular, multi-locally-marketed Cuban cigar line. Among connoisseurs, the eponymous Punch, Double Corona, Churchill, and Super Selection No. 2 are especially prized and sought after.

Punch also produces two machine-made cigarillos: the Cigarritos and Cigarritos Reserva.

Punch has not been chosen before for any Edición Limitada productions as of yet, but in 2006 it did see a special Edición Regional release: a Robusto released only in Switzerland.

Appearance: This was a pretty looking cigar. I have never seen a cigar box pressed quite like this one. Instead of being square, it was more like a round cigar with squared off corners, giving the cigar a diamondish look. The wrapper was smooth and rich and free of veins and noticeable blemish. The wrapper was practically glistening with crystallized oils, it looked like it was aged to perfection.

Pre-Light: The clip on this cigar was a breeze. The pre light draw was a smidge tight but not really a big deal. Pre light notes were of woodiness, nuttiness, and cuban earthiness, a great combination of flavors.

Burn/Draw: The cigar burned like a dream. I on occasion have issues with funky burns in habanos, but that was definitely not the case with this vitola. It was of the light and forget variety. The draw, honestly, was a little bit tighter than I generally enjoy, but thankfully it did not adversely affect the cigar experience, as the stogie produced an adequate amount of flavorful smoke. The ash was quite dark and mottled, but it held firmly for as long as I wanted it to. Overall it struck me as a well constructed cigar.

Flavors: This was one mighty tasty medium strength/medium body cigar. It started off kind of sweet and nutty, with noted of cinnamon, nutmeg and almond. This cigar eases you slowly nicely into the experience. At about a third of the way into the cigar, it gets decidedly dryer and more spicy in nature. The dominant note I tasted at about the half way point is white pepper (TAKE THAT SERGIO, HAHA!). Over the the last third the cigar finally started to open up, the smoke filling out into a richer and round, creamier experience. Barreling towards the finish the spice picked up significantly (black pepper this time) and cedar woodiness, and that classic woody earthiness (that was frankly and undertone the whole time) you see in most great Cuban cigars comes more to the fore.

Overall this was a pretty good cigar. It develops nicely over time and keeps you interested in the smoke throughout the whole length of the stick. In my case it is also a great change of pace to the habanos I generally favor. While it may not enter my regular rotation, it is definitely worth the time to smoke, and I suggest you seek one out while you still have the chance. Evidently, these are no longer in production, so there are only a finite amount left. Try to find some. Recommended.


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