Connoisseur's Corner

Connoisseur's Corner: A Near-Perfect Punch

Connoisseurs prize cigars that come packed in cabinets of 50. There's more room for air to circulate around the cigars, which is good for aging, and there are double the number of cigars found in a typical box, which is just good overall. A tidy Punch Punch with a quarter century of age proved the potency of cabinet selections with its near-perfect performance. A look at this Cuban corona gorda shows, first, just how thick cigars have become in the modern day, for this "fat corona's" ring gauge of 46 seems downright slim by today's standards.

The unbanded cigar blossoms with the flavors of sweet baking spices, earning it a classic rating on our 100-point scale. An unheralded Diplomaticos No. 2 from 1995 was sweet and subtle, also earning a classic accolade.

98 points

Punch Punch (1991)

A creamy brown cigar that is somewhat light in color, taken from a cabinet of 50. It begins with a perfect draw. It’s mellow, with rich flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg and just the right amount of sweetness. A cigar you could smoke all day and into the night.

—Marvin R. Shanken

95 points

Diplomaticos No. 2 (1995)

This piramide is a doppelgänger of a Montecristo No. 2—in appearance alone. The flavor is far more mellow, without the bracing leather one expects from a Monte 2. After a slow, dry start, it develops a sweet, nutty character with hints of baker’s chocolate and nuts. A nuanced, delicious cigar with a sweet core that never gets cloying.

—David Savona

94 points

Cohiba 35 Aniversario Pirámide (2001)

This cigar was made to celebrate a big anniversary for the Cohiba brand, and it was part of a limited run of humidors. The draw is perfect. An early grassiness soon fades, replaced by vanilla notes with a touch of chocolate. It also intensifies, taking on a medium body, but it never achieves the level of flavor that would merit a classic score. A fine smoke, better than the vintage, but certainly not one of Cuba’s best.

—David Savona

93 points

Hoyo De Monterrey Le Hoyo Des Dieux (1994)

This skinny smoke, which has no band, is woody and austere at first. As it warms, almond notes emerge to sweeten the core of wood. The finish is earthy, the smoke nuanced, with a touch of pencil lead on the finish. A quite pleasant cigar with a medium body that is smoking well.

—David Savona

91 points

H. Upmann No. 4 (1995)

More than two decades in a box has given this petit corona a subtly pressed appearance. The combustion is perfect, the draw, quite ample. Though first puffs start off a bit dusty and dry, the cigar opens to show a walnut and pecan nuttiness with a hint of cinnamon and a faint floral character. Mild overall and probably a little past its prime.

—Gregory Mottola

90 points

Saint Luis Rey Lonsdale (1995)

The lonsdale size for the Saint Luis Rey brand was discontinued years ago, but this exhibits perfect combustion, taking flame immediately. The smoke is richly textured with layers of nougat, vanilla bean and sweet lavender notes, but a nagging bitterness refused to dissipate.

—Gregory Mottola

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