Friday, July 1, 2022

Punch Cigars The People's Champ in Review

Punch Cigars The People's Champ in Review

WRAPPER: Honduran Habano
BINDER: Mexican San Andres
FILLER: Dominican, Brazilian, Nicaraguan

FORMAT: Robusto
INTENSITY: Medium-full

Green peppercorn | Dark Chocolate | Anise

A salted savory earthiness makes up much of the profile and offers all of its consistency. That earthen bit is quite a bit of a bit and I'll call it barnyard, especially if there's a compost heap down on the farm. Savoriness is a beef stock reduction. Herbs, black pepper, and red wine are all there in that demi-glace. Green peppercorns slice through, and slicing should indicate sharpness, which happens alongside a strong anise note that can be seen as either rootbeer or licorice.

Dark chocolate more calmly swirls around the middling, but in a less even-keeled manner; it's at times waxy and other times near fudgy. Heavily toasted unmalted and malted barleys pour in at mid-point and have a somewhat-to-very bitter back-end that I get from some Irish whiskies. And it's all very smoky, almost distractingly-so. Also, far less stably anchored than the more primary notes. Charcoal browbeats a chicory N'awlins coffee that keeps trying to make itself more known.

Onto performance. Combustion happens in a wobbly though self-correcting manner. Nice smoke out-put builds a sweetly-spiced aroma that features a stiff leather not seen on the palate. Quite a dark room-note in keeping with tastes. Ash builds well but is also flaky here and there. The pacing slows a noticeable bit after a rather fast first-third. Construction is quite nice, with a smooth, even draw and firm roll with no hard/soft spots. However, the cap does degrade some. 

All told, if handed this cigar, I'd say it was exactly what most people would want.


A 90-100 B 80-89 C 70-79

"All told, if handed this cigar, I'd say it was exactly what most people would want." - Me, from the above section of this post. I say this regarding its profile, to be clear. Now this from the Punch website: "Why ‘The People’s Champ’? To celebrate 180 years of Punch, I invited the Punch Brotherhood to do the unprecedented: Design a cigar from blend to band. They didn’t disappoint."

John Hakim, Punch Brand Manager, was nice enough to give me a bit more insight into the project. "In 2019 [this is a 1 June 2022 release], Punch Brotherhood members were asked a series of multiple-choice questions regarding the cigar. For example, they were asked to choose the body profile (mellow to full); experience (sweet through spicy); wrapper color (double claro through oscuro); length (3.5-4” through 7-8”); and ring gauge (<40 to >60).

"We then tabulated the results from all the votes and the most popular options were declared the winners. Based on those preferences of Punch Brotherhood members, we tested several blends that fit the profile in order to arrive at the blend. We also presented packaging choices with different branding, color and band options, and various catchphrases. "

So this, what can be seen as marketing research, corroborates what I (and many others) already knew about modern smokers' mores. That's all well and good but I'll be much more interested to see what is done with that information. Namely, if Punch keeps giving them what they want, or if it goes back to its history of creating more-so than enforcing consumer trends. Thankfully, these options are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

::: very :::