At one point in time, Punch was the strongest brand in the world. Today, not so much.
Despite not having the status similar to Cohiba, Montecristo or Romeo y Julieta, Punch has dominated the Edición Regional series with 18 of the 105 released ERs baring the Punch crown, second only to Ramón Allones’ 19 releases.
As Patrick explained in the Por Larrañaga Robusto review:
The Edición Regional program started in 2005 and utilizes the 17 local and multi-local brands for their releases exempting the ten worldwide premium global and niche brands. The cigars are limited production releases with a minimum run of 25,000 cigars and are made exclusively for a regional market, which can range from a specific country to a geographic region.
They are available for one to two years, after which time the cigar can be added to the line’s current production range. The vitolas used for Edición Regional releases must be selected from current production vitolas, but ones that are not already used by that line.
In addition, recent changes, as noted by Trevor Leask of CubanCigarWebsite.com, have included a lifespan of 12 months with release dates generally in August, September and October. In addition, while some regions have received multiple releases in a calendar year, it has been reported that starting in 2012 Edición Regional releases will be limited to one per distributor.
Finally, the cigars generally use the marca’s main band with a second red and silver band that indicates the region it was made for, in the format “Exclusivo ___” with the region’s name in Spanish.
The Punch Northern Lights is the only release exclusive to Habanos Nordic, the distributor for the Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
For Punch, 2009 was a huge year as for ERs go, as there was six releases:
- Punch Royal (ER Benelux)
- Northern Lights (ER Nordic)
- Platino (ER India)
- Poderosos (ER Switzerland)
- Small Club (ER France)
- Gran Robusto (ER Spain)
The Northern Lights is one of the smallest cigars to be part of the ER series at just 4 1/3 x 52 and the second smallest release size with just 1,500 individually numbered boxes of 10 being commissioned.
And the particulars.
Cigar Reviewed: Punch Northern Lights Edición Regional Países Nórdicos (2009)
- Country of Origin: Cuba
- Factory: Miguel Fernández Roig
- Wrapper: Cuba
- Binder: Cuba
- Filler: Cuba
- Size: 4 1/3 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Petit Edmundo
- Est. Price: $20.00 (Boxes of 10, $200.00)
- Release Date: 2009
- Number of Cigars to be Released: 1,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (15,000 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 2
So. The wrapper is weak. This one didn’t fare well and neither did the first one I smoked. Even for Cuba this was frail, but more on that below. The Northern Lights doesn’t do well in the aroma category: disgusting ammonia and barnyard, although it’s honestly not that strong. From the foot there’s a bit of cereal and the ammonia. The cold draw is where the aroma of the wrapper really comes alive, while the flavor through the cigar displays a bit of twang, bits of dry coffee and chocolate after a necessary application of the draw tools.
The Punch Northern Lights starts off the first third very woodsy with a classic Cuban nuttiness and a bit of twang, although it’s not very full. If you are hoping for classic Punch strength, it’s a bit missing at what I’d describe as medium. Eventually, the flavor settles to mainly cedar, some creaminess, caramel and coffee notes with some spices. Draw is average, although without the draw tools neither would have been smokeable, so take that for what it’s worth.
Into the second third and the Northern Lights’ pace slows down from its frantic first third pace and some grassiness and dryness to the bitter flavor. Both the spice and sweetness die down, ultimately leaving a flavor that is much earthier, even if that’s not the primary note. The classic cedar aroma adds some sweetness and is quite frankly the most enjoyable part of the cigar, even if the smoke production could be better.
The final third sees the burn of the short Punch get warmer, which isn’t something that was necessarily welcomed. A very intriguing chocolate note adds itself into the fray, although the flavor profile is largely becoming linear. The Northern Lights strength peaks in between the second and final thirds at medium-full and quickly begins to fall off into the final third. Eventually, the warming smoke and struggling burn force me to put down this cigar pretty early.
- Punch’s ER for Italy in 2008, the Diademas Extra, is one of my favorites in packaging in appearance, too bad Brooks doesn’t think the cigars were great.
- The wrapper, outside of its durability concerns, wasn’t really anything out of the norm.
- Interestingly, the Nordic region isn’t the only region to only get one Edición Regional. Cuba has only received one, the La Gloria Cubana Deliciosos in 2009. India also received its only ER, also a Punch and also in 2009.
- Strength is what I would say medium, it gets to medium-full, but only briefly.
- Construction, after the mandatory draw tool, was fine. Never great, but with the exception of the heat in the final third, it was fair and avoided being problematic.
- Northern Lights is easily one of the most bizarre names for a Cuban cigar we’ve seen. Presumably it’s in reference to the Aurora Borealiis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights.
- I got the cigars from two different sources, neither survived the mail without some bruises.
- Final smoking time is 50 minutes to under an inch.
The Bottom Line: I don’t mind paying $20 for a good cigar, even if it’s tiny. The market is flooded with plenty of cigars with gigantic price incapable of coming close to deliver par. However, what becomes particularly frustrating is when there’s a cigar with an obnoxious price tag that is only average, welcome to the Northern Lights. At $8.00, this would still seem a bit over sized on size alone, but you could at least justify it occasionally. But, at $20.00 per cigar, which is the absolute low-end of what they retailed for when released, this is just impossible to justify.
Final Score: 81