Punch Bareknuckle

The Punch Bareknuckle is a cigar that is a retail-exclusive cigar for online retailer Cigar International.  The cigar is produced by General Cigar Company under the Punch brand.  As many brick and mortar retailers have been securing their own retail-exclusives from major manufacturers, we are also seeing some of the major internet and catalog retailers also doing the same thing.  With Cigar International, we have seen cigars such as the Alec Bradley Maxx Brazil and the Nestor Miranda Doppelbok offered as their own exclusives and become successful.  With the case of the Punch Bareknuckle, I found a cigar that offered a quality smoke that should satisfy those wanting a fuller cigar in terms of strength and body.

Some additional background information is provided on the Cigar International web-site,  but the Punch Bareknuckle is being positioned as a bold, smooth cigar that is full-bodied and full-flavored.

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Punch Bareknuckle and see what this cigar brings to the table:

Blend Profile

The Punch Bareknuckle features a multi-national blend including an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper. While Punch cigars have used Ecuadorian wrappers before, it is primarily Ecuadorian Sumatra wrappers that have been used with this brand by General Cigar.

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano Sun-Grown
Binder: Unknown
Filler: Honduran Nicaraguan
Vitolas Available
The Punch Bareknuckle has been launched in four front marks
Rothschild (Robusto): 4 1/2 x 50
Belicoso: 5 x 50
Elites (Corona) 5 1/4 x 45
Pita (Toro): 6 1/8 x 50 
For this cigar experience, I smoke the Belicoso vitola.  The Ecuadorian Habano wrapper has a dark, woody look to it.  There is also some darker marbling on the wrapper that I felt really contributed to the woody look. The surface of the wrapper has some oil on it.  There are some visible veins and visible wrapper seams.  The belicoso tip almost looks like a large chocolate chip.
The banding to Punch Bareknuckle is very different than the rest of the of the Punch line.  The band has a blue/gray “stamped pattern” background around most of the band separated by a gold stripe. There is also gold trim at the bottom of the band,  The name “PUNCH” is in red with a gold border.  Going in landscape mode on the band is the text “bareknuckle” in white font on a black border sitting between the stamp pattern and gold stripe.
Preparation for the Cigar Experience
For my smoking experience of the Punch Bareknuckle, I defaulted to a straight cut to clip the tip of the bellicoso.  Once the tip was removed, I proceeded with the pre-light draw.  The dry draw yielded a combination of notes of wood, chocolate, and some grapefruit.  Overall, I considered the pre-light draw to the Bareknuckle to be satisfactory.  At this point, I removed the footer band to the Bareknuckle,  proceeded to light up the cigar and see what the overall smoking experience would deliver.

Flavor Profile

The Punch Bareknuckle picked up where the pre-light left off.  Notes of grapefruit, pepper, and wood surfaced in the forefront.  There was a distant cocoa note in the background.  As the flavors progressed through the first third, the cocoa notes would move into the forefront joining the grapefruit notes.  The pepper notes were a close secondary note.  The pepper was also very prominent on the retro-hale.

In the later part of the first third, there were times the cocoa and pepper floated between being a primary and secondary flavor.  As the Bareknuckle moved into the second third, the grapefruit notes significantly diminished.  The cocoa notes held on in the forefront, but by the second half the pepper notes joined the cocoa.

In the last third, there also were some earth notes that joined the cocoa.  For the most part, there was a spicy flavor component in the last third.  The earth and cocoa were still very much prominent and the grapefruit was very distant.   There was a slight bit of harshness at the end of this cigar.  The resulting nub was cool in temperature, but soft to the touch.

Burn and Draw

Overall I found that the Punch Bareknuckle performed very well when it came to burn and draw – especially for a belicoso.  The burn remained razor sharp from start to finish.  The resulting ash was tight with a mostly white color.  The burn rate and burn temperature were ideal.

Burn of the Punch Bareknuckle
(Note footer band was switched toward cap for photo op)

The draw to the Punch Bareknuckle was outstanding.  In fact, I didn’t even think I was smoking a belicoso.  The draw was not too tight and not too loose.

Strength and Body

As mentioned, the Punch Bareknuckle is positioned as a “bolder’ smoke.  This is exactly the type of smoking experience I found with the Bareknuckle.  From a strength standpoint, the Punch Bareknuckle falls into the medium to full range.  From a body standpoint, this cigar has some very deep flavors.  I assessed the Bareknuckle to be a full-bodied smoke.  When comparing the strength versus body, I definitely found that the body had a moderate edge during the smoking experience.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I found the Punch Bareknuckle to deliver a very good cigar experience from start to finish. Perhaps the most surprising thing was how well this cigar smoked in the belicoso format – which I normally I am not the biggest fan of.  The Punch Bareknuckle also was a very well constructed cigar.  This cigar is probably not a cigar that I would recommend to a novice cigar enthusiast as it has more strength and is on the fuller side. As for myself, this is a cigar I would smoke again and keep a few of in my humidor.


Burn: Excellent
Draw: Excellent
Complexity: Medium
Strength: Medium to Full
Body: Full
Finish: Good
Assessment: Nice to Have
Score: 89

Source: The cigars for this assessment were provided by Cigars International.  The request was initiated by Cigars International to myself (Cigar Coop) to provide feedback.   Cigar Coop is appreciative to samples provided but this plays no role in a final assessment rating and write-up.