While General Cigar Co. has been able to successfully breathe new life into its CAO and La Gloria Cubana brands, Punch has seen a consistent supply of new lines, though few have seem to have caught on as the others have. The latest entry to that list certainly looks to change that, starting with a new presentation.
The Punch Diablo doesn’t look like any of the other Punch brands before it. It comes outfitted in a black and red scheme that is clearly meant to go along with the darker Diablo name, which starts with the fact that diablo is the Spanish word for devil. If that’s not clear enough, opening the box reveals the slogan “The Dark Side of Punch.” In addition, the cigar is being made by A.J. Fernández, which is the first time the General-owned Punch brand will have a line made somewhere other than the company’s factory in Honduras.
As for the blend it uses an Ecuadorian Sumatra oscuro wrapper over a Connecticut broadleaf binder and fillers from Honduras and Nicaragua. It is being released in three sizes, with each of the vitolas given a name that ties in with the cigar’s devilish theme:
- Punch Diablo Scamp (6 1/8 x 50) — $7.19 (Boxes of 25, $179.75)
- Punch Diablo Diabolus (5 1/4 x 54) — $7.79 (Boxes of 25, $194.75)
- Punch Diablo Brute (6 1/4 x 60) — $8.19 (Boxes of 20, $163.80)
- Cigar Reviewed: Punch Diablo Diabolus
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
- Wrapper: Ecuador (Sumatra Osucro)
- Binder: U.S.A. (Connecticut Broadleaf)
- Filler: Honduras & Nicaragua
- Length: 5 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Robusto Extra
- MSRP: $7.79 (Boxes of 25, $194.75)
- Release Date: July 24, 2018
- Number of Cigars Released: Regular Production
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
While the bands might have looked good in mock-ups on a computer screen, they aren’t flattering on the cigar itself. The dark Ecuadorian wrapper isn’t helped by the inconsistent reds, though I think the cigar looks fine otherwise. The aroma off the wrapper is a mixture of sweet chocolate, leather and sunflower seeds, forming an all around medium-plus. The foot has a sweeter chocolate, graham cracker and a bit of acidity, right around medium-full. The cold draw keeps the sunflower seeds and chocolate, though there seems to be some underlying paint that isn’t particularly great.
Despite the off-putting paint flavors on the cold draw, the Punch Diablo starts incredible once lit, tasting very much like a Cuban cigar with floral flavors, raw vanilla, toastiness and some woodiness, landing at medium-plus in all categories. Unfortunately, by the 10-minute mark, the sweetness has faded, leaving a fight between wood and a damper woodiness with some earthiness joining in the fray. The retrohale has orange peel, black peppers and predictably a lot of wood, which makes it challenging to identify much of anything else. Flavor is medium-full, body is full and strength is medium-full. Construction is great, though the burn is epicly slow.
While woodiness is still the dominant flavor, it’s not the overwhelming variety that I experience in the first third. The Punch Diablo now has some nuttiness, sunflower seeds and creaminess, each at times getting close to the woodiness, but never surpassing it. The retrohales are different with each sample, sometimes earthy, one with a unique strawberry creaminess and another one with toasty notes that remind me of a burger drenched in Montreal steak seasoning. All three cigars have a medium level of sharp spices towards the back that make it into the finish. Flavor picks up to full, while body and strength are both medium-full.
Unfortunately, the damp wood returns near the final third of each cigar and that’s not a good thing. The creaminess is gone and so is much of the complexity. Instead, there’s damp wood, damp earthiness, salt water and paprika. Black pepper coats the tongue as soon as the smoke leaves the mouth. Flavor is full, body is full and strength is medium-full. Construction remains great until the final puff.
- On two different cigars I managed to independently write down that this cigar would pair well with an American beer. I think that a regular Budweiser would accent the cigar wonderfully.
- While the cigars are not the same size, the boxes are the same size. General says this will save space for a retailer, something that seems somewhat antithetical when you consider that it inherently means that some of the boxes are larger than they have to be.
- That being said, the boxes look great when they are lined up next to each other.
- If FDA warning label requirements go into effect unchanged, I imagine we will see a lot more of this in the future.
- These are some of the worst names for sizes I’ve seen in a long time.
- I also don’t understand why most companies are still naming sizes, it’s not like any retailer in the country is going to know what to grab when someone comes in asking for a box of Scamps, which as noted above is an actual vitola name.
- While I like the aggressive pricing, I also wonder if General needs to put out cigars that are so identical. Trying to explain the difference between this, and the also brand-new, La Gloria Cubana Estelí is probably not easy. For reference, the La Gloria is about $1 cheaper and not made by A.J. Fernández, though the blends are notably different.
- In addition to the new Diablo, General also updated existing Punch packaging. You can see pictures of that in our coverage of the General Cigar Co. booth from the 2018 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show.
- General Cigar Co. advertises on halfwheel.
- Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time was one hour and 55 minutes on average.
- Site sponsors Atlantic Cigar Co., Cigars.com, Corona Cigar Co., Famous Smoke Shop, JR Cigar, Serious Cigars and Thompson Cigar Co. all carry the Punch Diablo Diabolus.
This is a below average cigar at an above average price, which is also how I would describe many of the most recent new Punch blends. General has better cigars at similar prices, A.J. Fernández makes better cigars at similar prices, and the two have certainly teamed up for better cigars.