By Russ Ouellette
I’ve been smoking Punch Rothschilds since about 1977. Back then (as now), they came in half-wheels of 50 inside a box, secured with a ribbon. They never had bands or cellophane back then, and, frankly, they’re not the same cigar, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you like a very earthy, flinty cigar, you should probably track down Mr. Peabody and see if he’ll let you use the Wayback machine, otherwise, light one of these up, as there’s much to like in the new version.
Today’s Punch Rothschild is a stubby robusto (4.5 x 50, although the older ones were a 48 ring gauge, I believe) with a coffee-brown wrapper that exhibits a couple of small veins, but nothing too thick. The cigars are fairly firm, but not tightly packed. The Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper has a nice satin-like sheen and the unlit aroma is earthy with a solid, fermented tobacco scent. On the pre-light draw, I get a woody note with a bit of faint coffee. The initial flavor after lighting is somewhat surprising; I get a heavy blast of oak, with a hint of espresso and cocoa (unsweetened). The draw is a touch loose, but the cigar kicks out a good amount of smoke.
About a half-inch into the stick, the oak begins to slip into the background, a whisper of leather shows up and the coffee and cocoa flavors pick up strength. Some sweet wood remains under the surface and a nutmeg-like spice pops up. The burn is fairly even, with the exception of a couple a spots that ran for about an eighth of an inch.
The aroma is slightly sweet with a smoky wood note about it, and the bluish smoke lingers nicely. There’s a base creaminess that ties everything together, and I believe that comes from the Connecticut Broadleaf binder. The filler blend of Honduran, Nicaraguan and Dominican Republic leaf rounds out the list of tobaccos for a very solid smoke.
At the halfway point, any hint of sweetness is buried under the coffee and cocoa, wood and nuts, and the modest spice tries to make itself known a bit more prominently. One of the drawbacks to this particular cigar has always been that it tends to heat up in the last half, especially if you smoke even the slightest bit too fast. The key to getting the maximum enjoyment from the Punch (or Hoyo de Monterrey) Rothschild is to smoke it slowly, and I would recommend using a guillotine cutter to open up the largest aperture without removing the entire cap. I have known this stogie to fire up like a furnace after having been punched or v-cut.
To sum up, here’s a cigar with a lot of solid core flavor and aroma, and an MSRP of $4.15 that has been a big seller for over 40 years now. This was the robusto before there was a robusto. I rate the appearance at 12 out of 15; the burn and construction at 29 out of 35 and the flavor and aroma came in at 43 out of 50 for a total of 85, but as is true of many other cigars in the value category, when the price is taken into consideration, this cigar ranks up there with many more expensive cigars.
Overall rating: 85
4.5 x 50
Wrapper: Connecticut Broadleaf (On the Maduro version)
Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf
Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan and Dominican
Made in: Honduras
|Russ Ouellette is the blender/creator of the Hearth & Home series of pipe tobaccos for Habana Premium Cigar Shoppe and www.pipesandcigars.com in Albany, NY. He has been a cigar smoker and pipe tobacco blender for over 30 years. Russ will be contributing articles in several areas starting with reviewing cigars that are the best bang for the buck – something we anticipate many readers will be interested in during these challenging economic times.|