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A “PUNCH” of Cigar History

Punch Gran Puro Nicaragua Box of cigars

When we think of Punch Cigars, what comes to mind is luxurious flavor profiles, rich history and refreshingly affordable prices.  This is one of the few cigar lines that has maintained its stunning quality and small-batch mentality as the company has grown tremendously over several decades.  Many of us savor our Punch cigars, saving them for special occasions as they have a celebratory nature about them.  But, as we smoke them, we overlook the fascinating history that is just as complex and intriguing as the tastes of the tobacco found within their wrappers.

The History of Punch Cigars

The history of Punch Cigars begins, quite surprisingly, with a puppet show character.  Punch and Judy was a popular puppet show throughout Europe in the mid-19th century, and German cigar manufacturer Stockmann registered a cigar named after the male character, Mr. Punch, in 1840.  Now, today we would scoff at naming a fine cigar after a children’s character, but clearly this choice was not a detriment to the growing brand, as it put Stockmann on the map.  The first Punch cigar was especially popular in Great Britain, where cigar-smoking was quickly growing into a hobby enjoyed by the elite aristocratic populations.  As a result, the company grew tremendously, as the men of the British aristocracy were the trendsetters of their day.

In 1874, the company changed ownership, and once again in 1884, when the company was placed into the hands of Cuban cigar maker, Manuel Lopez Fernandez.  If this name sounds familiar to you, it’s because it’s still found on the boxes and bands of Punch cigars.  When Lopez retired in the 1920s, the company was handed off to Esperanza Valle Comas, an established Cuban cigar manufacturer that wasn’t able to truly develop their own take on the classic cigar as a result of the famous stock market crash that occurred just five years after the acquisition.

During the years that followed, the cigar industry, like all industries of the early 1930s, suffered tremendously.  During the Depression, luxury items were the first to feel the pain of financial hardship, and cigars still fell into this category.  The company was sold once again, this time to Palicio y Cia, a growing cigar business headed by Fernando Palicio.

Like many cigar companies, the embargo against Cuba was a major threat to Palicio y Cia, now enjoying sustained popularity with their Punch cigars, primarily in the United States as well as England.  So, like many company heads of the time, Palicio fled to Florida in hopes of starting over and taking his cigar business to a new level of success.  Palicio ended up selling his famous cigar empire to two separate cigar companies: Frank Llaneza and Villazon & Co.  These two companies have continued to sell Punch cigars ever since, which explains why there are technically two separate companies that sell these famous cigars.  Now that Cuba’s cigar industry is nationalized, one of the operations exists in Cuba to this day, while the other is in Honduras.

Where They are Today

Over the last several decades, Punch cigars has added many recognizable names to its repertoire, including the Churchill cigars and the Corona cigars.  The line maintains its reputation as offering some of the most flavorful and high-end-tasting cigars on the market, which is gratifying considering the fascinating legacy behind the name.  Now that you know the full story behind Punch Cigars, you can better appreciate them the next time you light one up.

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