Punch -- Upper Cut
Worthy of a gold medal
The Winter Olympics certainly had its share of drama and excitement this year, starting with one Olympian's unfortunate death even before the games started and ending with the valiant effort of the USA Men's Hockey team's effort in its loss in the gold medal match vs. Canada. However, the one incident that made the news, that I could not reconcile my own views on, was the post-game celebration of the gold medal winning Canadian Women's Hockey team. For those of you who may have missed it, the Canadian ladies came back out on the ice, still in uniform, an hour following their win and medal awards celebration. They did so, swigging beer, champagne and (God bless ‘em) smoking cigars. A few media stragglers, still in the stadium, captured the celebration on film, footage that was released the next day in the news. Let the controversy begin!
One argument was from the "feminine equality" fighters, saying if this were a bunch of men who did this, under similar circumstances, there would not be an issue. I can agree to this only partially. I believe the tradition and respect that drives behavior protocol associated with this age old venue would have still been violated. Independent of the sex of the violator(s), it would have still been called out. Do I think it would have made a difference if the men did it? Probably, I honestly do expect that it would have been less an issue due to the "boys will be boys" mindset of the public. That's what young men do: they party and find a reason to celebrate. And, they do it often with alcohol, cigars, etc. – yes, we are pigs!
However, I have to support the ladies on a different front, even if they want to stoop to our "pig" level. Today's society is anything but traditional, and modern media is changing the "proper protocol" of behavior. Our society incents Olympians to market themselves and become media objects, and its not just Olympians. You see it with actors, rock bands, sports stars and politicians, and even with your own career in corporate America, you may be advised to "Build your Brand." Couple this with the phenomenon of human nature that sometimes proves, "Bad publicity is better than no publicity at all," and you get some craziness occurring in the world. These hockey women, likely unplanned, have some notoriety that they might be able to leverage now. These ladies, some who probably clean up pretty well, are uniformed in heavy, bulky apparel, they are tough, likely scarred in places (certainly black and blue), etc., are at a severe disadvantage in leveraging their Olympic roles into money making opportunities. In other words, they don't have the advantage of getting the more immediate recognition of Lindsey Vonn, with her sun-kissed face, sun highlighted blond hair, and a designer body-hugging ski suit. Playboy, People or David Letterman aren't likely going to knock on their door just for winning a gold medal.
Will they now? I suspect their post-game antics, coupled with their athletic accomplishments, will optimize their options. Playboy, may be a stretch -- Cigar Aficionado or a beer commercial, a real possibility! If you girls need an agent to help further your "brand," call me!
Congrats to these ladies! Let's join the gold medal Women's Canadian Hockey Team and get smoking!
Punch -- Upper Cut
Wrapper: Ecuador (Sumatra)
Size: Robusto (5.2" x 50)
Price: $5.50 – 6.50
Punch is a venerable brand and is one of a portfolio of well known brands owned by the Cigar General Co., one of the bigger companies in the industry. Their brands include Macanudo, La Gloria Cubano, Partagas and a host of others. The Punch Upper Cut puts the image of Ometepe and its twin volcanoes on its footband. Cigar Aficionado states that the Ometepe region in Nicaragua grows "intriguing" tobacco. General Cigar owns much of the growing fields in this region and the Upper Cut is filled with Ometepe region tobacco.
I received the cigar at a local Tinder Box store as a promotional giveaway. I stored it in my humidor for only a day before smoking it. I heard good things about the cigar and read about the positive growing region around Ometepe, so I was eager to smoke it.
Look and feel
The cigar looked more expensive than its retail price point, the banding with the picutured volcano definitely dressed the cigar up, but its nice oily, deep brown wrapper was impressive even without these bands. I saw nothing to complain about in its construction, as it seemed packed nicely. The cigar was wrapped and filled in a quality manner.
Aroma and Taste
When I first lit up, I was struck by a nice, balanced dose of pepper and spice. The pepper subsided somewhat after five minutes of smoking and morphed into a traditional, rich tobacco flavor with some leather flavor as well. The flavor stayed generally the same, with some wood flavor coming and going throughout. I especially thought the draw and burn on the cigar also was good. The aroma was nothing too noteworthy, but it was certainly fine. I do believe that this is probably going to be one of my favorite Punch brand cigars going forward, as it has a medium to full profile. With that said, I must admit that I do not smoke a lot of Punch cigars. I think the brand is positioned very well with a consistent, good value smoke for your money. The cigars themselves are typically not too complex in flavor but the consistency is there and the smoker knows what they are getting. Many smokers value this in a cigar, probably more than I do.
RATING: 8.8 (on a scale of 1 to 10) – I like this cigar and it is a good value. My rating is consistent with a lot of things about the cigar being satisfactory. It is not a standout in my opinion. However, I do believe that it is worth smoking again and I also believe some smokers will like this cigar, especially those who insist upon consistency.
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"A wisely chosen cigar to me, is like a weapon against certain of life's torments, in some mysterious way, a little blue smoke chases them away." – Zino Davidoff