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Punch Mantua Review Cigar: Punch Mantua Release: RE Italia 2018 Vitola: Laguito No 2. 38 x 152mm Production: 2500 50 count boxes made. Box # unknown Box Code: UNKNOWN Date: Saturday, June 26, 2020 Start Time: 7:54PM End Time: 9:17PM Paired with: plain water. Reviewers Notes: My style of cigar reviewing is “open”. I try to jot down what I’m experiencing with every draw. When you see a “/” consider that a break in between puffs. What I leave out in fancy prose is made up with observation. Consider each segment a play by play. This style works for me. I hope you enjoy it. Visual: Nice firm roll. Slightly dark milk chocolate wrapper. Toothey to the touch Aroma at cold: Chocolate, cookie, very appealing. Perfect draw upon Punch Mantua First Third Rich toasty tobacco / bbq char / good draw / black pepper / burn askew / good draw but doesn't seem lit, though it is / corrected burn / espresso grounds / nice stringy cedary flavour / burnt almond / spicy on the tongue, like cayenne but smoother / water / chalky, salty draw / lots of smoke / toasted nuts, but not burnt, very nice / dry finish on every draw so far / cedar / nutty / water / tangy tobacco / chalky mouth feel / dry nuts / hints of nutmeg / nice sweetbread hints / nutty finish / medium bodied so far with a few strong draws / toasty tobacco with anise finish / water / ash falls as I lift it, not on me for once / cigar goes out!! / lighter misbehaves / upon relight I’m treated to a nice, sweet flavour, cookies / more sweetness, some cocoa, hint of pine on the finish / more sweetness / draw is good but I seem to need 2 puffs minimum to get anything out of it. Internal combustion issues? / chalky, minty note / fin Second Third Water / black beans / dry finish / minty again, tastes fresh / draw seems firm / milder bodied at this point / light mintiness persists / water / chalky , soapy mouthfeel / very light / tap off ash, going to a touch up with the lighter / 3 lighters with me, none of them barely working / relit / still minty and light bodied / smooth chocolate flavours now / anise, mint, very perplexing / smoke production up a bit / so far it’s behaving like a vintage smoke, very smooth. The opening seemed to hint that a medium-full cigar experience awaited me. So far it’s been transitioning back and forth in the medium realm, with some interesting flavour twists / trouble staying lit, it's not windy or humid, odd. / with lighter in hand i execute about 5-6 deep draws, the cherry glows red. Perhaps it's finally lit! / nice rewarding flavour at the end of this exercise, rich tobacco and anise / cedary-cinnamon hit / salty, bready like a cracker / touching up the burn / nice hit of leather and cocoa on the finish / cocoa, anise with a dry finish / really nice rich, earthy flavours as I crank up UFO’s “Lights Out” on my headphones / water / rich cedary notes with an anise finish / ash went from pitch black to white / rich white smoke now, performing a lot better / intense hint of anise, almost like dry Sambuca / tongue retains some of that anise as I break between draws / water / smooth, creamy coffee that ends in a mint finish? So weird, but I like it / i swear I can taste a bit of lemon zest as I sit here typing this on the finish too / bit of baking spice / having a hard time trying to pull out “Punch” trademark flavours (at least to me) such as peanut, coffee, dark chocolate / as i type, I’m still tasting some mint and anise on my palate / knock the ash off, inspect foot, doesn’t seem lit. a quick puff tells me it's not. End of this third. Time for a relight. Final Third My Iroda lighter comes back to life after a few smacks. I do a retro burn and a stream of gases light the way / its lit again and the first puff is a nice smooth cedar note / slight saltiness giving way to anise / water / very smooth pleasant mint flavour again / very dry on the finish. At the beginning, I sensed there’d be some oiliness but it hasn’t materialized. It stayed dry / nice black bean hit / the burn line approaches the RE band, time for some surgery / RE band off / mint that leads into strong cedar, like I bit into a cedar lining in a cabinet / out again! / tap off ash and relight / concave burn / toasty tobacco, mint finish / cedar notes / black bean, anise finish / at this point, I’m not convinced I’m smoking a Punch, buts its been good / UFO album done, switching over to some Scorpions Lovedrive / more cedar / water / chalky mouthfeel, cedar / very dry and cedary, good smoke production / OUT AGAIN! / I slide the Punch band up and relight / smooth cedar, at least its not charry as I find that's an issue towards the last third of many cigars when you relight this often / tasty, rich “meaty” draw, some roasted nuts / more roasted nuts, cigar is going medium-full now / some saltiness on the palate, like a Sancho Panza / hickory-BBQ, salty finish, so odd, but good / bbq lingers on tongue, the rest of my palate still senses mint / going to end up nubbing this / cocoa / more anise, slightly muted / dry, chalky toasty tobacco / quick burn correction / hot, very strong earthy draw / minty finish / slide off Punch band and grab nub tool / of course it goes out! / stale draw / good cedar hit / might have to finish this / last puff is decent, some cedar / FIN Conclusions & Thoughts The Punch Mantua was released to a lot of fanfare. When people heard about it they contacted their Italian cigar contacts/buddies/B&M’s etc to try and get a hold of them. I guess people were hoping for lightning to strike twice and thought this could be the La Escepcion Selectos Finos spiritual successor? Or they loved that they were coming in 50 Cabs? Or they just like Punch long and skinnies? Not sure. But there is/was hype for them. Even for me. I reached out and grabbed some myself. They are not in my hands yet, but this single found its’ way to me via a good friend. I’ve heard good things from others who smoked them so after dry boxing this for about 10 days I felt it was time to smoke it. Right off the bat. This is not the LESF by any stretch. Other than sporting a similar vitola, it did not deliver the initial, flavourful, complex “punch” to the balls. But it is a Punch. When I sit down for a review, I try to bypass the hype and do my best to be objective. Whether or not it’s a cheapie or a high end, costly RE or LE. I want to be able to honestly approach it for what it delivers,not for what market niche it sits in. On to the smoking conclusions. This cigar did not perform as I’d hope in terms of staying lit. I haven’t had to relight and touch up a cigar in months. This one needed several. With that said, it did deliver a unique smoking experience; which I like. Overall it went from full bodied, to medium to mild and back again. I did not taste any typical (for me) Punch tasting notes. I was hoping to, but it did not materialize. At least not in this one particular sample. When I get my cabs, I’ll revisit them and see if there is any discernible difference. The cigar did take me on a flavour journey. That is for sure. I don't like monotone cigars, especially in the RE/LE lines. There’s no bang for the buck when that happens. This cigar was definitely holding my attention. It was complex and took me in directions I did not expect. That “minty’ tasting note I kept experiencing is something I typically get out of vintage cigars. In particular, my Dip 7’s from 1988. It was so smooth. Even after multiple relights, which can tend to add a charry note to a stick. Final thought. It was an excellent stick. Not a Punch, but a noteworthy stick. My only concern is how these will age given that they were not very full bodied. The LESF was and it still has the legs almost 10 years later. With that said, this was only one cigar. I look forward to my next ones. Score: 92.