The History of Punch Cigars
If you are a cigar smoker in the United States, it is only plausible that you have not only heard of Punch cigars, but that you thoroughly enjoyed them. From the rich maduro version of the Punch Elite, to the ever-popular fat figurado Punch Champion, these Honduran cigars are one of this nation’s best selling cigars. However, Americans tend to forget that Punch has a rich and storied history that dates back over 160 years. Its origins are not entirely known, with various owners and hazy details, however we do know that the name was first registered by a German businessman named Stockmann in 1840.
The original Punch line was actually named after a popular German Puppet at the time named Mr. Punch. In today’s world, naming a tobacco company after a child’s toy would be seen as unethical, however it was a much more relaxed view in those times. The brand was created for the British market, and it became immensely successful almost immediately. Punch cigars became known for their smooth taste and rich flavor, characteristics that are still their today. The brand changed hands several time over the coming years, first in 1874 then again in the 1880s by Manuel Fernandez. Manuel’s name are still on the band and boxes of the Punch line.
When the stock market crashed in 1929, the brand was purchased yet again by a company named Fernandez, Palicio Y Cia. Along with Hoyo de Monterrey, Punch became one of their most successful brands, especially in the U.K. They became a favorite of Winston Churchill who even visited the factory during a trip to Havana. Yet, like most of these tales of cigars, the company was faced with an event that would forever change the landscape of the industry. Following the Cuban revolution, the Cuban cigar industry was nationalized and the government seized production and distribution of all Cuban tobacco products.
Shortly after, Palicio moved his company to Miami to attempt to recreate the line specifically for the American market, which had then outlawed Cuban products due to the trade embargo. It was there where he met cigar legend Frank Llaneza. Llaneza and his company Villazon took over production of Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey and began rolling them with Honduran tobacco. This is still how the lines are rolled today. The Cuban Punch remains very popular in the other parts of the world, with aficionados constantly searching for the famed Churchill and Double Corona sizes. The Honduran versions are one of America’s most loved cigars with the Punch Elite, Rare Corojo, and Grand Cru lines being a mainstay in brick and mortar stores. In these two great brands, the Punch legacy lives on even today.