Cigar Review: Punch Diablo

  • PunchDiablo_straightVitola: Scamp
  • 6.125” x 50 ring gauge 
  • MSRP $7.79
  • Samples provided by General Cigar

Background

For 2018, General Cigar decided to combine several familiar elements into one decisively new product. Since the 1960s, they have made Punch cigars in Honduras and have been mostly Honduran-based blends (there are obvious exceptions like the Punch Puro Nicaragua, from a couple years ago). In the early 2000s, General produced a cigar called Diablo; it caused superstitions among the mostly Catholic people making the cigars and never really caught on in the U.S. so it was discontinued after a short time. Finally, General has been working with A.J. Fernandez for many years, initially on his Man o War and Diesel lines sold through catalog retailers, but later on several other lines that Fernandez blended and produced for them.

Bringing all these elements together, we now have Punch Diablo…produced in Nicaragua by A.J. Fernandez and distributed by General Cigar. Punch brand managers declare that this cigar “beckons you to the dark side without fear of losing your soul.”

The devil is in the details, so Master Blender AJ Fernandez has left nothing to chance with this tempting four-country blend. Befitting of its diabolical name, Punch Diablo is made with a blend of four-year-aged Nicaraguan and Honduran Habano leaves and is wrapped in a deep, oscuro Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper, also aged four years. A bold Connecticut Broadleaf binder that’s been aged for six years seals the deal to deliver a sinfully indulgent smoke that’s spicy, intriguing and destined to leave you spellbound.

Punch Diablo comes in 3 devlishly-named sizes (Scamp, Diabolus, and Brute), is packaged in boxes of 25 (for the first two) and 20 (for the third). It is available nationwide now. I have smoked 4 or 5 Punch Diablo samples before this review stick; some of those I purchased myself and some were review samples provided by General Cigar. 

PunchDiablo_boxPrelight

The boxes and bands for the Punch Diablo make use of a lot of black, with bright silver and red text and highlights (and a little bit of white, as well). The boxes will be very similar to anyone who has seen the CAO Brazilia or Italia boxes as they are the same kind of cardboard construction with folded pieces defining the interior of the box and part of the lid acting as a shelf talker. The band looks really good except for the “Diablo” text which is rendered in a red foil, whereas the rest of the red is printed ink. It would have looked better just to have all one red…and with the way the foil is super-reflective, I think just simply ink would have worked best. Still…minor quibbles.

The wrapper leaf was a dark chocolate brown color and is simply one of the darkest Ecuadorian Sumatra wrappers I’ve ever seen…the only one that may be darker is that used on the LFD Ligero line, but this one is definitely more even in coloration. It felt oily under my fingers with just a little bit of grittiness, and the aroma from it was ripe earth, leather, and bell peppers. The aroma from the foot was a more barnyard earthiness with notes of coffee and chocolate.

The prelight draw was excellent and tasted of milk chocolate, earth, leather and nuts.

Flavor

The Punch Diablo starts off strong like it’s first namesake and hot like it’s second. I had plenty of dry wood and cocoa powder flavor mixed in with the red pepper spice on the palate, while earth played a backing role along with just a little sweetness hiding in the mix. The retrohale was toasted nuts and blasts of pepper. As I got further along I got a definite leathery note in the mix.

As I got to the second third, the pepper had toned down a bit on palate and nose, while a deeper earthiness and a rich dark chocolate note came through, along with a touch of an espresso bean flavor and continued leather notes.

Leather flavor took over in the final third, with earth, espresso bean and dark chocolate running around underneath and just an accent note of pepper spice hanging around still.

Construction

I had a great draw, almost perfect burn line and solid ash.

PunchDiablo_bandValue

The price point on these sticks is great and the experience is very good, so great value.

Conclusions

Presentation is not amazing on these cigars, but it is adequate for what they are doing. The cigar itself is very good, though, and a fairly large departure from other blends produced by A.J. Fernandez. While the Nicaraguan flavors of earth and cocoa powder definitely come through, they are filtered through the sweet Broadleaf binder and leather Sumatra wrapper, creating a totally new experience for a Punch.

By-The-Numbers

Prelight: 1.5/2
Construction: 2/2
Flavor: 4/5
Value: 1/1
Total: 8.5/10

David Jones

David has been smoking premium cigars since 2001. He is co-founder and editor-in-chief of Leaf Enthusiast. He is a full-time retail tobacconist, working for Burns Tobacconist in Chattanooga, where he has also organized the Chattanooga Tweet-Up for the last four years. He is also an independent graphic designer and typesetter. Twitter: @dmjones1009

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