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Punch Punch Royal (ER Benelux 2009)

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Last month in Charlie Minato’s review of the Punch Sabrosos Edición Regional Asia Pacifico, he mentioned that 2011 was the height of Habanos S.A.’s Edición Regional series with 25 different releases. Since then the Edición Regional has significantly slowed down, with only nine releases in 2012, 12 in 2013 and 15 slated for 2014.

Another interesting year was 2009, as it was the first year that they broke the 20 release mark with 23 different Edición Regional releases. One of those releases was the Punch Punch Royal Edición Regional Benelux, which is what we’ll be looking at today.

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In Patrick Lagreid’s review of the Por Larrañaga Robustos Edición Regional Alemania he outlines the program:

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. 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.

Benelux is a union consisting of Belgium, Luxemburg and Netherlands. The official distributor in the region is Cubacigar Benelux, b.v.

Punch Punch Royal  ER Benelux 2009 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Punch Punch Royal Edición Regional Benelux (2009)
  • Country of Origin: Cuba
  • Factory: Miguel Fernandez Roig
  • Wrapper: Cuba
  • Binder: Cuba
  • Filler: Cuba
  • Size: 5 5/8 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 50
  • Vitola: Robusto Extra
  • Est. Price: $14.00 (Boxes of 25, $350.00)
  • Date Released: 2009
  • Number of Cigars Released: 2,600 Boxes of 25 Cigars (65,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

The first thing that catches my eye is some slight damage to the light brown wrapper because it’s so delicate, feeling almost like slightly oily tissue paper. It is fairly smooth though, slightly wrinkly and has a few visible veins you can feel when running your fingers across it. There do appear to be a few softer spots through the middle of the cigar, though I’m unsure if they’re significant enough to actually affect smoking. There is a huge fresh barnyard aroma with light grass notes coming off the wrapper and the cold draw consists of grassy notes, vanilla pudding, a slight raisiny fruit note and a light spice on the tip of my tongue.

The first third starts off with some significant black pepper notes, a little nuttiness and some slight vanilla. A small retrohale enhances the black pepper and there’s a slight chemical harshness that doesn’t really make me want to revisit retrohaling any more of the smoke. The draw is quite in the middle of acceptable and produces plenty of smoke on each draw. The white ash has a few darker spots on it and is quite compact, holding well past an inch. Pepper continues to dominate the profile, though it has subsided slightly allowing some cedar and cinnamon to join the nuttiness and vanilla.

Punch Punch Royal  ER Benelux 2009 2

The second third continues much as the first, with the pepper waning and the vanilla, nuttiness, cedar and cinnamon melding together to form a pleasant profile. The burn is lagging on one side of the cigar and needs a touch up every once in awhile, but otherwise the burn is fairly even, though not what I would call straight. A minor fruit note has appeared, adding a bit to the profile.

Punch Punch Royal  ER Benelux 2009 3

The final third has become slightly milder as far as all the flavors go, virtually across the board. The pepper, vanilla, cedar and cinnamon are all still there, but the dried fruit has disappeared. The burn has evened up, but with it the cigar went out and required a relight. Draw continues to be great, as it has the entire cigar. I’m able to smoke it until it’s burning my fingers without any harshness however, so I’ll take that over a full profile overlaid with harsh notes.

Punch Punch Royal  ER Benelux 2009 4

Final Notes 

  • Out of the three samples I smoked, one was kept at 69 percent (relative humidity), another dry boxed for 48 hours, and the third I let acclimate to around 60 percent. The one kept at 69 percent was entirely too high for this cigar and it severely enhanced the harsh chemical taste that was otherwise only there on the retrohale. The other two had much better flavors, though the one around 60% was probably the best.
  • Despite the humidity differences, they all seemed to have fairly consistent burn issues that required touch ups throughout the cigar with a couple of them actually going out even though I was being attentive.
  • In 2011 the Benelux Edición Regionals were split up into the Belux region (Belgium and Luxembourg) and the Países Bajos region (Netherlands) with each getting their own releases – the La Gloria Cubana Belux No.1 and the El Ray del Mundo NL No.1, respectively.
  • While there weren’t any releases for those regions in 2012, 2013 saw another release for each region – the Bolívar Poderosos Edición Regional Belux and the Ramón Allones Specially Selected Robusto Corto Edición Regional Países Bajos.
  • After three years apart, the two regions were once again joined for the 2014 ER, the Juan López Don Juan, which has not yet shipped.
  • Cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
  • Final smoking time averaged just under two hours.
87 Overall Score

Some Edición Regionals I've smoked have been hits, others have been duds, I think this one falls somewhere closer to the middle although I did enjoy it. Five years of age on this has done it well I think, as there still seemed to be some room for development. The burn issues were probably more than annoying, I’m sure reaching over into affecting the flavors. What did surprise me about the cigar was the strength of the pepper, even after five years. I've not smoked many of the Habanos S.A. Punch cigars, but the Punch Royal reminded me I needed to go try more of their vitolas. If you come across these at a reasonable price I can definitely suggest getting some to try for yourself.

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Brian Burt
About the author

I have been smoking cigars since 2005 and reviewing them as a hobby since 2010. Initially I started out small with a 50-count humidor and only smoking one or two cigars a month. Not knowing anybody else that smoked cigars, it was only an occasional hobby that I took part in. In March of 2010 I joined Nublive and Cigar Asylum, connecting me with many people who also shared an interest in cigars. Reading what they had to say about brands I had never heard of, I quickly immersed myself in the boutique brands of the industry and it was then that cigars transformed from a hobby into a passion. Besides my cigar hobby and job in the IT industry, my wife and I love traveling, trying new restaurants and relaxing at home with our two dogs.

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