Punch Bareknuckle Steve R If you’re on our mailing list, you’ve likely seen Punch Bareknuckle on the cover. Eye-catching, no? Rightfully so, because I’ll say it up front: the mighty Punch brand was desperate for a blend like this. Years ago, Punch was among the strongest blends on the market. Times have changed, new makers have entered the fray, powerful new tobaccos have been produced, and Punch quickly evolved into a classic brand with a classic flavor profile. All things considered, it is best described as medium-bodied, but incredibly consistent and expertly well-made. Unfortunately, today’s enthusiast demands more, and the Punch portfolio hasn’t grown to meet these demands. Bareknuckle changes all that. At play, a dark and leathery sun-grown wrapper grown from Habano seeds in Ecuador, overtop a long-leaf blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran long-fillers, laced with ample ligeros. While the use of these powerful tobaccos aren’t sugar-coated with rare growing techniques or proprietary fermentation processes, when blended by the masterminds inside the legendary Punch factory and combined with said factory’s unrivaled quality control, the possibilities are endless. I’ve selected the Belicoso. Why? Well, surprisingly enough....it’s the first Belicoso ever to boast the mighty Punch band. Surprising, I know, but pleasantly so. The cigar opens in brutish fashion, dishing out a bold, meaty array of aggressive flavors. Earth, black tobacco, and leather smack my palate with each puff, followed by a long, toasty finish with (surprisingly) subtle spices. The cigar is rock hard but delivers a perfect draw, leading to a very slow and cool burn. About 10 minutes in and I’ve burned through less than an inch, and the flavors have gradually toned down, allowing more subtle nuances to surface....flavors that were no doubt hiding in the background. I now note a touch of oak and a soothing trace of coffee bean, just before the long, toasty finish sits on my taste buds each time I put the cigar down for a temporary rest. Complexity....something I’ve been wanting from Punch for some time. But, what’s even better about this cigar is its underlying strength. Punch Bareknuckle is no doubt full-bodied, but deceivingly so. There’s a ton of flavor, which many folks will confuse with strength....but pay close attention to your gut, because you will feel the ligeros there. Your head won’t swim throughout the burn, but the methodical increase in strength from the first inch and beyond will leave you satisfied, as if you just polished off a juicy steak or plate of ribs. The final leg is everything Punch should be. A rich, flavor-packed, bold bouquet with an interesting combination of noble and delicate flavors. Roll the smoke around in your mouth a bit before each exhale. Release some smoke through your nose. Focus on the warm, charcoal-like aroma wafting above. Three suggestions to truly appreciate this bold new face of Punch. That’s my take on Punch Bareknuckle. A necessary blend to reinvigorate the legendary Punch brand, and reinstate its place among the industry’s premier full-bodied cigars.