With 23 million sticks in our monstrous humidor at any given time it can be tough to single out a cigar to review. I know, I know…poor Brando. Millions of premium cigars at your disposal and you can’t find one to write a review on? You’re right, it’s pathetic. Truth is, much of our time is spent evaluating new blends for upcoming releases and at any given time there are at least a few hundred sample blends (seriously!) needing to be smoked. That’s actually part of the joy in writing these editor’s picks because it gives me an opportunity to smoke a blend that’s been on the market for a while and compare it to various projects we’re working on now. With that in mind I received an email from a buddy I’ll call Staff Sergeant Chuck asking me to review the Punch Gran Puro. First off, as you can see, Staff Sergeant Chuck is in the military (the Army to be specific) and I’m sure I’m not the first person to say it but, Staff Sergeant Chuck, thank you from the bottom of my heart for dedicating your time to serving this great nation of ours and protecting the freedoms we enjoy every day as American citizens. That goes for every one of you reading this who have bravely served in the United States Armed Forces, thank you.
Now, after convincing the boss to let me “borrow” a 5-pack of the Punch Gran Puros from the humidor for a little research I’m back at my desk where I can examine these beefy cigars. I grabbed a pack of the Pico Bonito (6x50) for this review because I’m a big fan of the toro size. To me they are ideal for tasting since they provide enough length to determine complexity but don’t take more than an hour to burn through. The Gran Puro as you might have guessed is a true Honduran puro meaning that all of the tobaccos in the cigar are from one country. In the case of the Punch Gran Puro the wrapper is a Havana-seed Sungrown wrapper which typically means good things if you like full-bodied and flavorful cigars. Direct exposure to the sun means more strength as well as a more leathery texture which is obvious if you take a good look at this stick. The binder on the Gran Puro is also a Sungrown leaf which adds to strength of the Gran Puro. Setting fire to the foot the first few draws are rich and produce a robust flavor that I will describe as nutty and earthy. Cigars that are “puros” really give you an opportunity to zero in on the specific flavors that the soils impart into the tobacco. True to my experiences with Honduran tobacco, the Gran Puro offers a mellow yet very rich smoking experience while producing gigundo clouds of bluish-yellow smoke. The sungrown tobacco yields a subtle spice up front but one that is much more pronounced on the back and sides of the tongue as the Gran Puro continues to burn. Halfway through and to be honest, this smoke has me sweating a little. It’s definitely stronger than I recall and lives up to the name Punch. Not a ton of complexity in the Gran Puro but to be honest, I’m thinking that I prefer it that way. This is an enjoyable smoke right from the start and while the spice builds throughout, the flavor never changes all that much. As far as the quality of construction goes, I’ll have to agree with Staff Sergeant Chuck on this one. It’s simply top notch. Densely packed and heavy in the hand but still draws effortlessly and razor sharp. I’ve visited General Cigars factories on more than one occasion and I can tell you first hand that there are very few cigar makers who take quality to the level that these folks do. Where other companies have a 5-step process for quality-control General Cigar has 12 and that ain’t no joke.
Having smoked my Gran Puro down to the nub I’m quite pleased with it. It has delivered a fine smoking experience and the truth is I think it’s a pretty good value for the dollar. Yes, SCHIP is right around the corner and prices are going to go up across the board thanks to the meatballs in Washington but at the end of the day the Punch Gran Puro may still prove to be a good value for the dollar. That’s just my two cents though. The true beauty of smoking cigars above all else is that it’s really only your opinion that matters.
Staff Sergeant Chuck, I hope this review meets your approval my friend! Thanks for taking the time to write and thanks again for serving this great country!