The Punch Diablo debuted at IPCPR this year as a joint offering between General Cigar (the parent company of the non-cuban Punch brand) and A.J. Fernández (on the manufacturing side). The Punch Diablo is the first time that General has made Punch outside of Honduras—usually rolled at the company’s own STG Danlí factory. Punch is known as a brand for people that love to smoke cigars with a fuller body (although the modern trend of ultra-full-bodied cigars has left the brand looking closer to medium by today’s standards), and A.J. Fernández is a master at creating full-bodied smoking experiences; on paper this appears to be a well-played collaboration.

When it came time to select the blend for Diablo, we decided that we wanted to make the fullest-bodied Punch to date. AJ Fernandez is a master when it comes to developing full-bodied cigars, so we asked him to create a blend using aged tobaccos, one that has strength and bold flavor to complement the rest of the cigars under the Punch umbrella. We’re confident that the blend he delivered will be a great new option for classic Punch smokers and that Diablo will give all full-bodied smokers another reason to experience Punch.Ed Lahmann, senior brand manager for Punch

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Punch Diablo Scamp Breakdown

  • Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sumatra Oscuro
  • Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Habano | Honduran Habano
  • Factory: Tabacalera A.J. Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua (Nicaragua)
  • Production: Regular
  • Vitola: 6⅛” x 50 “Scamp” (Toro)
  • Price: $7.19 (SRP)

With A.J. handling the blend, it’s no surprise that Diablo comes loaded with Nicaraguan and Connecticut Broadleaf tobaccos. But it’s the age of the leaves used that wasn’t quite as expected, with the Ecuadorian Sumatra Oscuro wrapper carrying four years at the time the blend was rolled, a six-year-aged binder, and four-year-aged fillers.

Punch Diablo debuted in three sizes: Scamp (6⅛” x 50), Diabolus (5¼” x 54), and Brute (6¼” x 60), with the former two available in boxes of 25, while the Brute is sold in boxes of 20 cigars. The cigars were released in July, with prices ranging from $7 to $8.

Appearance

The Punch Diablo is sporting a new, bolder look for the Punch brand, with a black band and red accents that really bring out the meaty color and texture of the oscuro wrapper. The Diablo box packaging has “The Dark Side of Punch” emblazoned on the inner lid, which, looking at the dark and leathery exterior of the cigar, makes perfect sense. The wrapper has the appearance of one solid chunk of tobacco, with no real visible veins. The aroma coming from the cigar is of deep rich cedar and maybe a little ammonia—it reminds me of stepping foot into an aging room at a factory.

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Smoking Experience

This cigar starts strong, like really strong. I feel like this cigar went off to war when it was 18 and never really talks about it much… I get nice notes of wood and a nutty flavor that is a bit overshadowed by the strength of the cigar. About an inch in, the strength calms down a bit and smooth, meaty nuances begin to appear. This cigar is interesting because it seems to vary a great deal in terms of body and strength, but has been a bit one-noted in complexity thus far.

Punch Diablo Scamp cigar smoking



Diablo would pair well with some sparkling water or a martini, allowing the heavy tobaccos to take center stage. Just before the halfway point the Diablo starts to loosen up a little bit, showing added notes of citrus and hay. Soon enough, dark flavors join the mix, all of which (not so) coincidentally begin with the word “black.” Black cherry, black pepper, black licorice… it’s all there. In terms of texture, it’s a bit of a dry smoke, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, only requiring extra sips of some sparkling water. Just before the band the Punch Diablo starts to hit its stride, with smoke oozing from every puff. It has the nice complexity of the black-themed middle of the cigar, with the strength from the beginning. The Diablo is really strong, and I’m not one of those guys that says, “You should eat before you smoke this cigar,” but you really should eat before you smoke this cigar!

As a person who doesn’t gravitate towards cigars that really “punch” you in the face (excuse that horrible pun), I’d asses this is a nice version of strength. Moving past the band, I have to compliment the construction of the cigar; I have only had to relight once (and that might have been user error) and the burn has been razor sharp the whole time. The latest stretch has been almost flavorless and I can tell my dance with the devil has come to an end.

Punch Diablo Scamp cigar ash

Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?

I would smoke the Punch Diablo again. I am not the biggest fan of strong cigars but this Punch has the right mix of body and flavor. I don’t know if this is a cigar I could buy a box of, but I would split these or buy a pack when I am looking to get my butt kicked. Diablo had the makings of a stellar cigar as the flavors built in the second third, unfortunately it fell off a bit of a cliff in the home stretch. Punch has done a great job with the re-brand and this has me excited for the future of Punch cigars.


Profile
  • Flavor: Medium / Full
  • Strength: Full
  • Body: Medium / Full
Core Flavors
  • Cedar
  • Black cherry
  • Roasted nuts
  • Black pepper
  • Black licorice
  • Hickory
Tips
  • Smoke Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
  • Pairing Recommendation: Clear liquors, Mineral water
  • Purchase Recommendation: 5-pack

Punch Diablo Scamp cigar nubbed

Images without Cigar Dojo watermark were provided by General Cigar Co.
Punch Diablo Scamp
One of the big surprises coming out of IPCPR 2018—as far as General Cigar Co. was concerned—was the Punch Diablo. While the Punch of yesteryear had alway been known for its full-bodied smoking style, the brand had become lost in the shuffle of today's heavy-hitting nicotine bombs. Punch sought to correct course with Punch Diablo, partnering with the industry's hottest tobacco blender: A.J. Fernández. Using aged tobaccos throughout the entire blend (four to six years on every leaf), A.J. crafted a strong cigar with a theoretical complexity for support. This was the idea pitched for Punch Diablo, and, in my opinion, it is more or less true. The cigar begins with a bang, offering the peppery strength you'd expect (though not much else). In the second third, the blend really hits its stride, opening up to show deep notes of black cherry sweetness, hickory, black licorice, black pepper, and virtually anything else that begins with the word "black!" But it's a steep drop-off in the final third, losing nearly all complexity. Ultimately, a good construction, smooth draw, and affordable price point make this a big win for Punch, with the mid-section acting as a bonus of flavor you wouldn't normally find in this price range.
Appearance93%
Burn/Construction94%
Draw95%
Flavor85%
Complexity80%
Price/Value88%
Pros
  • Good balance of strength and flavor
  • Excellent construction and draw
  • Billowing smoke output
Cons
  • Can be one-noted at times
  • First third and final third aren't on par with the sweet spot of second third
89%Up & Down

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