The origin of Punch cigars, like so many of the most ancient Cuban cigar brands, is clouded in mystery and the source of some debate. The official version given by Habanos SA is that Punch were founded in the middle of the 19th century and named after a satirical magazine popular in England at the time. Don Manuel Lopez of Juan Valle & Co is the man credited with the vision of capitalising on the magazine’s place in the English zeitgeist to give his new brand an edge in what was one of the most lucrative cigar markets of the time. Other sources put forward an alternative theory –...READ MORE
The origin of Punch cigars, like so many of the most ancient Cuban cigar brands, is clouded in mystery and the source of some debate. The official version given by Habanos SA is that Punch were founded in the middle of the 19th century and named after a satirical magazine popular in England at the time. Don Manuel Lopez of Juan Valle & Co is the man credited with the vision of capitalising on the magazine’s place in the English zeitgeist to give his new brand an edge in what was one of the most lucrative cigar markets of the time. Other sources put forward an alternative theory – that Punch was in fact founded in 1840, one year before the magazine of the same name, by a German named Stockmann. Herr Stockmann is said to have taken the name from the lead character of a puppet show found at most European seaside resorts of the era. Whichever version holds the truth, one thing is for certain: Punch cigars have been around for almost 200 years, and remained popular throughout their long history.
One thing both stories have in common is the character of Mr Punch himself. The lead character of that seaside show, adopted as the mascot and namesake of the satirical magazine, was beloved by audiences across Europe in the 19th century for his antics. The slapstick brand of comedy employed in Punch & Judy shows – Judy being Mr Punch’s long-suffering spouse – was deemed hilarious at the time but would now be the source of moral outrage, as it portrayed no small amount of domestic violence. Today, Punch & Judy shows have been consigned to history, but Mr Punch remains on the livery of the cigar brand which took his name, cigar smouldering gently in his hand as he sits surrounded by imaginings of torcedores and vegueros working to bring us our beloved Havana cigars.
Throughout their long history Punch cigars have enjoyed enormous popularity among smokers around the world. By the 1970s Punch was the fifth-largest Cuban cigar brand when measured by global sales, behind only the “big four” of Montecristo, Partagas, H. Upmann and Romeo y Julieta. While those four have gone on to join Cohiba and Hoyo de Monterrey – whose La Corona factory Punch cigars are now made in – to make up Habanos’ six Global Brands, the fortunes of Punch have waned a little, as the vitolario was greatly reduced and the awareness of the name began to fade. Nevertheless, a continuous production portfolio recently increased to seven vitolas and a strong history of popularity for Regional Edition selection have seen this famous old name once more begin to ascend to the top of the Havana cigar pyramid. The medium-strength blend, which has always been popular with true aficionados, is once again becoming known by more occasional smokers, leading Punch cigars back to the success of their early years.
Punch Punch: A 46 ring gauge by 5 ⅝ inch corona, this double-named stick is the classic Punch smoke, full of coffee, cedar and leather flavours and the reason this brand has been so popular for so long.
Punch Short de Punch: One of the most recent releases from the brand, and designed to cater to the modern smoker’s taste. This 50 ring gauge by 4 ¾ inch petit robusto satisfies the market craving for thicker smokes which can be enjoyed in under half an hour.
Punch 48 LCDH: At 51/2 inches long and 48 ring gauge, this special release for Habanos specialists shows that Punch is revered by not just smokers, but the makers in Cuba as well. A more luxurious presentation than the average smoke, with all the richness of flavour we expect.
Punch cigars have twice been selected for the prestigious Limited Edition series, first in 2013 then again in 2017, as well as almost thirty times for the Regional Edition programme. Their selection by Pacific Trading Co (distributor for Asia-Pacific) to mark the passing of their beloved founder, Sir David Tang, in 2017, as well as the choice by Diadema of Italy to use Punch for the gargantuan cigars which shared their name, is indicative of the love smokers have for the marca, and no doubt has a bearing on Habanos’ decision to elevate their status within the pantheon by using them more often for commemorative cigars. With each year that passes more new smokers are inducted into enjoyment of this blend, and the profile of Punch continues its resurgence.
Whatever modern sensibilities would make of the comedy show which originally provided the name for these cigars, the cigars themselves are clearly loved. The medium strength makes them suited to any time of day, the notes of coffee and leather mix with unusual herbaceous flavours to give the cigars a distinctive profile, and the variety of vitolas offers an option for all smoking preferences. No surprise, then, that their 200th anniversary approaches, and no doubt this brand will continue long past that.
Brand Founded: c1840
Construction: Handmade, Tripa Larga
Continuous Production Cigars: 7