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Size: Figurado, 4.5×6
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Capa Corona
Filler: Mixed long filler, Dominican, Honduran, Nicaraguan
Price: 5-pack, $12
I can’t remember the first time I had a Punch Champion but I am sure it was the shape that initially caught my eye. About a year and a half ago I was traveling through North Carolina and I came across one of the JR Cigar stores—it was either Statesville or Selma. I spent a good hour or two in awe at the spacious humidified haven. I ended up grabbing a 5 pack of the Champion. Today’s smoke was my last in the five pack, after sharing the unique smoke with a couple buddies and having a couple myself. My Dad and I have always been a fan of Punch and, if we are in a cigar store together, at least one of us comes out with a Punch.
Without a doubt the most striking feature of this stick is the beautiful egg shape. The foot is around a 50 ring size, while the head is around a 40 or so, but it is the middle that is so striking—reaching up to a 60 ring; the appearance is very similar to a snake that has just swallowed a large dinner. The Champion is double banded in the Punch trademark red and gold and features a triple cap. The head was so small that it was difficult using a punch, so I went with a .99 cutter. The appearance was superb, with very few veins, a great weight, and a flawless roll. I would have scored it a perfect 2 but the draw was a bit tight and there was a slight darkness at the foot that didn’t blend into the rest of the wrapper. Overall, this was a beautiful stick with a nice oily sheen; the smell became sweeter as you worked toward the foot.
The Champion burned into one of the nicest ashes I have ever seen; a perfect white color with tight, stacked layers of ash. The ash held well into the 2/3 of the smoke; perhaps most impressive was how well it held through the transitions in shape, giving a perfect burn circle throughout with no runs at all. The tight pre-light draw continued during the smoke but did improve around 2/3 and after moving past the middle egg. There was no touch up or re-light required. The deductions were for the poor draw and the slow, tight burn.
The Champion is definitely medium with touches of full. It was smooth throughout with small transitions in taste and strength; the first 1/3 was the fullest portion and had a slight pepper with a short burst of sweetness similar to cocoa. Some harshness arrived but only briefly. The final 2/3 burned and drew much better and mellowed a bit in strength. The flavor profiles in the first third seemed to pass into a smooth, medium bodied smoke.
This is an excellent stick, especially when you figure in the unique shape, the quality of the roll, and the price point: a 5 pack for $12—excellent value, perfect burn, beautiful ash. The draw improved as the smoke went on (biggest deduction), the flavor and body smoothed out, and the stick seemed to mellow as it aged (1.5 years). Highly recommend.