In 2020, General Cigar Company released a new line under its Punch brand known as the Punch Knuckle Buster. The Punch Knuckle Buster is named for a phrase made famous by University of Virginia Basketball Coach Tony Bennett who once described the rough and tumble physical game as a “Blue Collar Knuckle Buster.” The Punch Knuckle Buster was created to deliver a hard-working blend for hard-working people. One could say the tie to the University of Virginia is also because General Cigar Company has its headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. Today we take a look at the Knuckle Buster – officially called the Punch Knuckle Buster Habano in the Toro size.
General Cigar owns the non-Cuban cigar marcas for the Punch brand. For the most part, Punch has been positioned as a value-priced brand. The brand has lines that are packaged in both a classic style and a contemporary style. The Punch Knuckle Buster falls into the contemporary category. Like the majority of the Punch offerings, it is also positioned as a value-priced cigar.
Without further ado, let’s break down the Punch Knuckle Buster Habano Toro and see what this cigar brings to the table.
Blend and Origin
The Punch Knuckle Buster Habano is a Nicaraguan Habano-forward blend with Nicaragua tobaccos in all three components of the cigar. The Punch Knuckle Buster Habano is produced in Honduras at the HATSA factory.
Wrapper: Nicaragua Habano
Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
Filler: Nicaraguan Habano, Honduran Habano
Country of Origin: Honduras
Factory: Honduras-American Tobacco S.A. (HATSA)
The Punch Knuckle Buster Habano is available in three sizes. Each of the sizes is presented in 25-count boxes.
Robusto: 4 1/2 x 52
Toro: 6 x 50
Gordo: 6 1/4 x 60
The Nicaraguan Habano wrapper of the Punch Knuckle Buster Habano Toro had a dark caramel color to it. This was an oily wrapper with some mottling present on the surface. While there were some visible veins and thin visible wrapper seams, this was a wrapper that was relatively smooth.
The upper part of the band of the Punch Knuckle Buster Habano featured a navy blue circular field with silver trim. On the field is the text “KNUCKLE BUSTER” in white font. Just below that text was the text “EST 1840” in small gold font. Toward the top of the band is a gold brass-knuckle design. The lower part of the brass knuckles drape over the circular field. It has a gold nameplate with the text “PUNCH” in navy font. Two silver medallions with navy blue trim flank each side of the band. The lower part of the band was navy with blue trim and featured the text “HABANO” in gold trim.
Prior to lighting the Punch Knuckle Buster Habano Toro, a straight cut was used to remove the cap. From that point, it was on to the pre-light draw. The dry draw delivered a mix of natural tobacco sweetness, earth, and cedar. Overall this was a satisfactory pre-light draw. At this point, it was time to toast the foot of the Punch Knuckle Buster Toro and see what the smoking phase would have in store.
The Punch Knuckle Buster Habano Toro kicked off with notes of black pepper, earth, natural tobacco, and hay. Early on the sweet natural tobacco took over as the primary note with the earth, pepper, and hay notes selling in the background. Meanwhile, there was an extra layer of black pepper that was produced.
During the second third of the Punch Knuckle Buster Habano Toro, the natural tobacco started to shed some of its sweetness in a gradual fashion. While the earth and hay notes remained grounded, concurrently there was a gradual increase in black pepper notes on the tongue.
By the final third, the pepper notes joined the natural tobacco in the forefront. There still was a slight amount of sweetness that remained with the natural tobacco. The earth and hay remained grounded in the background. This is the way the Punch Knuckle Buster Habano Toro remained until the close. The resulting nub was slightly soft to the touch and cool in temperature.
Burn-wise, the Punch Knuckle Buster Habano Toro scores very nicely. This is a cigar that had no problem maintaining a straight burn path and straight burn line. The resulting ash was nearly white in color. This was a firm ash that came off the cigar in nice clean chunks. The burn temperature was ideal. The burn rate was a little fast as it took an average of 52 minutes to smoke the samples I had. There were no adverse effects from the faster burn rate other than a shorter smoke duration.
The draw to the Punch Knuckle Buster Habano Toro was on the open side. At the same time, this wasn’t an overly loose draw. I’ll infer the openness on the draw led to a faster burn rate, but in the end, the only adverse effect was a quicker burn rate.
Strength and Body
In terms of strength and body, the Punch Knuckle Buster Habano Toro opened up as a medium. By the second third, both attributes increased into the medium to full range. The intensity level increase leveled off in the second half and both strength and body remained medium to full.
In terms of strength versus body, both attributes balanced each other nicely with neither attribute overshadowing the other.
The Punch Knuckle Buster Habano Toro has a relatively straight-forward no-frills flavor profile. It’s not going to deliver a radically complex flavor profile, but flavorwise it’s going to perform well. With a name like Punch Knuckle Buster, one might expect a cigar that is in-your-face with strength. This wasn’t the case, but at the same time, this still was a cigar that I consider to be on the bolder side. In the end, I found the boldness of this cigar mapped nicely to the flavors.
Given this is a bolder cigar, it’s one I would recommend to a more seasoned cigar enthusiast. As for myself, I would smoke this cigar again. It’s a cigar I would recommend a “buy one” in terms of purchasing it.
Key Flavors: Natural Tobacco, Black Pepper, Earth, Hay
Complexity: Medium Minus
Strength: Medium (1st 1/3), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Body: Medium (1st 1/3), Medium to Full (Remainder)
Finish: Very Good
Value: Buy One
Photo Credits: Cigar Coop, except where noted