Punch Royal Selection No.12

Punch LogoPunch is next. Punch is Cuban Cigar brand, but as with many Cuban brands, also exists outside of Cuba. You know all about families fleeing the country and selling the rights abroad, and the Cuban government seizing the Fabricas and continuing production. The “other” Punch is made in Honduras.

Punch was founded by German born Mr. Stockmann and named it after a character from a puppet show. Don’t you just love the names for Cuban Cigars? The third owner of the brand was Manuel López Fernández, and it is his name that still is mentioned on the boxes. The Cigar I’m about to review is from before 2005, a time this Cigar was released without a band. Since 2005 is does have a band, like in the picture below. In 2010 the Cigar was discontinued. There is a finite amount of excellent tobacco, and other sizes, with larger ring gauges, are more popular these days, so they use the tobacco for that. Today it has to be at least ø50, so no use making and (not) selling something that is a mere ø42…

Punch Royal Selection No.12

Punch Royal Selection No.12 (42 x 129mm, Marevas, Petit Corona, Box code unknown)

Color & Looks: Colorado with small veins. It has some small black spots and some green discoloration. Nothing major. Straight build and feels somewhat flexible. Cuts nicely.

A cru: Nice leather and wood. A deep smell with all kinds of dry leaves. After the cut, quite fresh and mild smelling.

Taste: Starts good, good draw and smoke. Unique spiciness combined with wonderful woody aroma’s with some distinct woody bitterness. Works well with mild coffee. Although overall very mild and soothing, there is a slight chemical edge to it, that stays behind in the back of my throat. After just a few cm’s it seems to be a bit stronger than the mild start. It’s still not a Bolívar, so no worries. The wrapper produces light gray ashes, the filler turns into a darker shade of gray, but also some white and pitch-black ash can be found deep in the heart of the Cigar. A bit of a mess actually. The ash is not firm since it falls off quite easily.

A big part of the taste does remind me of dry Dutch Cigars’ Sumatra tobacco. This definitely is a cigar that has been lying around for a long time. As I said above, this one works well with coffee, but it doesn’t like water as an accompaniment, turning it acidic. Going along, the creamy bit increases. This one doesn’t seem to be tightly rolled, but nevertheless stays firm all the way, even when warming up. Incredible amount of smoke. It may not be a very strong smoke, but the taste is a bit harsh and not completely inviting. I’m doing my best to smoke this slowly, not to let it get too hot. Not a lot of development and most definitely not my favorite Cigar. For me not something I would smoke by itself, it needs some kind of accompaniment. The was quite a bit left when the Cigar turned, so not something you smoke untill you burn your fingers or your lips. Dry and woody throughout and definitely after dinner.

Marevas is a great size, maybe a bit thin for todays taste, but it still is a Cigar, you still are holding something in your hand, without it being tiny like a cigarette. It is most definitely thinner than a Robusto. This would seem a good one when you don’t have a lot of time on your hand. Not so. An older Royal Selection No.12 tends to be woody and harsh. It has to be smoked slowly, because when this gets hot, it is overly woody and even gets bitter. More recent examples, lets say from 2008 and later, are more creamy and definitely milder.

Points: 76

Los Statos de Luxe Delirios

Los Statos de Luxe LogoLos Statos de Luxe, as you might have guessed from the name, was one of the cheaper brands coming from Cuba. Not a lot is known about the brand. Founded around 1940, and was totally discontinued around 2005. From 1980 on, the brand was no longer hand-made and all the models were machine-made and had a ring size of 40. Three of the five produced models were 140mm long, and the other two were 123 mm long, which makes our Delirios their smallest cigar. Delirios were only sold in a cardboard packaging containing 10 cigars.

This is a  Cuban Delirios by Los Statos de Luxe (40 x 123mm, Standard Mano, Petit Corona, Box Code Unknown).

Los Statos de Luxe Delirios

Color & Looks: Colorado, mocha brown. Looks smooth but the wrapper is very thin and cracks easily. No veins. The Cigar is very light and is very loosely packed. Mediocre build, but it doesn’t look bad and keeps it together.

A cru: Light and grassy. Typical light cigar with hints of leather.

Taste: Initial taste is light and pleasant. Tasteful and easy-going. An excellent everyday smoke and dirt cheap to boot. Actually a shame it isn’t available anymore. It used to be quite unremarkable, but with some extended time in the humidor it picked up really well. Tasty! Ash is light grey and almost white. Due to the loose build, the cigar burns extremely fast, and just after two cm’s an added note of gasoline enters the fold. as do some other chemicals. Ash falls off quickly. Fennel and grassy and wine-cellar notes. Good puffs of smoke and tastes rather well with a mild coffee.

The second half is less interesting than the first half, but there is enough quality in the whole to begin with. The second half is a bit harsher, stronger and lacks complexity. More wood and dirt now, but also leather and ammonia, altogether more chemical toward the end. To sum up, a pleasant Cigar with some chemical off-notes. A good start of my Cigar smoking season I would say…

Points: 78

Ramón Allones Small Club Corona

Finally some weather for me to sit outside with a cigar. I tried it yesterday, with this very cigar in hand, but I even didn’t get to the part where I could cut it, and it already started to rain. So I had better luck today. Even though I had some time on my hands, I went for this rather small cigar, maybe not small but definitively short. As with most of my cigars, this is a well aged specimen that has some years under its belt. As I’m writing this afterwards it is already raining with lightning and rolling thunder.

Ramón Allones Small Club Corona (42 x 110mm, Minuto, Petit Corona, Box code unknown)

Ramón Allones today is a local brand, so not something you’ll encounter very often. No large selection, only three cigars make up the core range. Besides this Small Club Corona, there are also the Gigantes (49 x 194mm) a Double Corona and the Specially Selected (50 x 124mm) a Robusto. Just like with other local brands a lot more are being issued as an Editión Regional or as an Editión Limitada. These are made in countless numbers. 24 versions since 2005. Local brand they call that, with countless Editión Regionales all over the world!

Color & Looks: Colorado. Some veins and some small specs. Looks decent, firm in the hand.

A cru: Creamy. Nicotine, this may turn out to be a strong one. Dry and musty. Worn out leather. After the cut, whiffs of paper and a vegetal, farmy smell. Lots of aroma.

Taste: Draw is without problems. First whiffs remind me of old cigarettes. Spicy and prickly on the palate. Bonfire and smoke. A bit sour and oaky. After the first centimetre it seems mid strength and the cigar seems to me to be a good aperitif. Just started but this could very well be a favorite short smoke. This little one has a lot of character. Cedar wood and altogether nice balance. It’s a quiet stick. I enjoy it as watching a movie without sound, just reading the subs. Its soothing. Hints of mint and petrol. Half way through, the cigar changes. The smoke is thicker and the cigar shows its strength, you already thought was there. Still a very calming cigar. Appetizing. Second half is built around cedar and pine with menthol.

Ash is grey and white and quite firm. Stays on a long time, burns well, sometimes a little crooked but a small correction with the laser torch suffices. Good build. Smokes well with water and medium strength coffee. Even though it’s no weak cigar, don’t do espresso with this, or maybe you should. I didn’t. Great short smoke. Second half could be a tad better but still this is nice stuff. Recommended.

Points: 84

Por Larrañaga Petit Corona

After a month, we had some sunshine with good temperatures again so I could have a relaxing moment outside. Since I don’t smoke in the house, I just will have to wait for those beautiful moments. When I opened my humidor this gold banded cigar just shouted at me; “pick me, me, me” and so I did. Boy was I in for a (floral) surprise…

Cuban Por Larrañaga Petit Corona (42 x 129mm, Mareva, Box Code Unknown). Comes only in a SLB50.

Por Larrañaga started out a long time ago, around 1834 in fact. After that the brand made it big and was a major producer. It was this brand also, which churned out the first machine-made cuban cigar. This marked the downwards spiral the brand got into, and now there are only three current cigars (Montecarlos, Panatela and the Petit Corona).  Besides this, since 2006 (a lot of) ‘Edition Regionales’ are released.

Color and Looks: Colorado (Maduro). Good build with good draw. No frays. Ultrathin wrapper with small veins.

A cru: Creamy, dusty, paper fire, mocha, caramel, nicotine, flowery.

Taste: Good smoke from the first whiff. Creamy, chocolaty, old books in an old bookcase, petroleum. Smoke gets thicker and is definitively flowery! After just one centimetre, the flowery element becomes grandma’s powdery soap. It’s Lavender! Ash alternates between gray and white streaks. Core is brown ash. Although it doesn’t seen heavy, my strong espresso tastes mild now. Almost even burn that continues throughout. No need for correction with a torch. Strangely the smoke on the outside of the cigar (wrapper) doesn’t have the lavender part. Somebody sitting next to you will not detect the lavender, but you, the smoker, most definitively will! It’s just there, lavender, soap, grandma’s clothes. Luckily this old smell is not overpowering, but just. After 3 cm the first ash falls off by itself. So maybe not so packed as I thought. The cigar by itself is not heavy, there isn’t a heavy taste that stays in your mouth for a day or so. It’s great with espresso but not with water. The cigar is quite basic (from the soapy taste), so it makes sparkling water taste more acidic than it already is.

Almost halfway through a woody part comes in, which for a moment does overpower the lavender part. After the halfway point the lavender, wood and spice balance out, which makes the cigar evolve and a bit stronger, but not much. Since it works well with espresso, but not with water, I feel it needs a counterpart from Scotland, something salty and sweet from Islay. I poured myself a Laphroaig 2001/2009 (57%, The Ultimate, Hogshead #2927, 324 bottles). Well I was right, this type of whisky goes very well with garandma’s lavender scented knickers. It pulls out more deep spices into the equation to balance the lavender even more. Wow even this cask strength Laphroaig tastes mild with this Por Larrañaga. near the end, the thin wrapper let go, so it was time to let it rest.

It’s a good after dinner cigar, lots of nicotine, yet not heavy. Some evolution halfway through but this happened only once, so I guess it’s safe to call it a linear cigar. This Petit Corona probably has a lot of fans, and it should. Well built, looks great and has a lot going for it. For me obviously the lavender was…the lavender, and that’s not quite my taste, but it could be perfect for you!

72 points

Romeo y Julieta Romeo No.3 (Tubos)

Well, today was another great day to sit outside, so I decided to try another cigar. This time one of my first buys. A loooong time ago I bought a box of ten of these tubed Petit Corona’s (in the brushed aluminium tubes). I tried one (probably in its sick period, of which I knew nothing at that time). I found it very harsh then and very young, like green grass with ammonia. After this first try I felt a bit sick myself. Now let’s try this one after a prolonged time in one of my humidor’s and see if ageing made this cigar any better.

Well this is a Cuban Romeo y Julieta Romeo No. 3 (40 x 117mm, Petit Corona, Box Code ORE JUN 04).

The brand was established in 1875 and was named for Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet. Quite a surprise ‘eh? It was made BIG by Jose Rodriguez who acquired the brand in 1903. Just like Prez JFK springs to mind when thinking about H. Upmann, Romeo y Julieta also had a big Prez-like fan: Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill. In his honor RyJ made a famous cigar named Churchill. As far as I know there’s never been a John F Cigar…

Color & Looks: Colorado, veiny and no powder nor frays. Good build, easy to cut.

A cru: Old books, ashy (and that’s before lighting it).

Taste: Easy combustion and excellent draw. Starts very nice, well matured. Leathery and I would say half-creamy.  This is really a lot better than all those years ago. It has a great startup, it’s good from the very beginning. Oriental spice and some cedar. It stays on the mild side. After just two centimeters development starts and moves more into more spices and ground black pepper. The whole is very nicely balanced, and I love balance! It’s very aromatic and gives lots of almonds now. I hope it’s not hydrocyanic acid gas ;-). The further down the cigar, the more cedar, but never overpowering the overall taste, just a little shift in the spectrum towards the wood. Some dry forest floor and a hint of cannabis and even a little hint of petrol, which is no problem but just adds to the balance. This little cigar evolves forever (well 30 to 40 minutes) and doesn’t stop with the aromatics. The end announces itself with some mint, and never becomes harsh.

It gives a lot of smoke and white ash with many white dots. This is clearly a lunchtime cigar. Will do great after lunch, but also an hour before dinner. Then again, this one is also great with arabica coffee (not espresso nor robusta coffee). I can imagine this one will do great with white wine (take your pick I haven’t tried which yet) and probably not with strong alcohols. Wow, as bad as it was when it was new, so good it is now. If I were JFK, I would tell my assistant to run out a second time to buy 1200 of these too. Still, it’s a shame I needed some eight odd years to find out how great these really can be.

Smoke this slowly, take your time. Don’t ruin this cigar because you want to get back to work on time.

88 points