The Punch Platino RE India 2009 was one of the cigar highlights of last year, so it was with eager anticipation i looked forward to the tasting of the Punch Sabrosos RE Asia Pacific 2011. The tasting of the Quai d’Orsay Superiores RE Asia Pacific 2011 a week ago had been a bit disappointing, it would be interesting to see if the Punch could redeem some RE pride for Asia Pacific.

2011 was a bit of a barren year for me as far as piramides went; smoked very few of them, not because i don’t enjoy the vitola, but just because the opportunity and the inclination never seemed to be there. Piramides tend to be quite flavoursome cigars with fantastic profile evolutions over the course of the cigar simply because of how the shape helps concentrates the flavours as you smoke it. That’s one of the reason why seasoned aficionados enjoy them so much, besides the fact that the tapered head feels great in the mouth.

The Sabrosos feels good in the hand; a good balanced heft, well packed, well constructed. No soft spots, yet not hard. Supple and oily exterior. The wrapper is a bit toothy but that’s common in most Cuban cigars nowadays. Unlit, the cigar has a pleasant woody aroma, but its quite faint. A quick cut, a few touches of the flame, and we’re away.

The first draws are classic Punch — nutty, creamy peanut butter wood chips. The draw is easy, not loose, and smoke volume is fantastics. There is a reason why the Punch flavour profile has been so successful over the years, and the first few inches of this cigar tells that whole tale.

As i entered the second third, that’s when the youth of the tobacco began to show itself. A touch of tannic bitterness, the same mark i found in the QDO Superiores. Not as pronounced as what i found in the QDO, but certainly enough to darken the mood somewhat on what was otherwise an excellent tasting cigar up to that point. The leaf that went into this is very young and that’s more a shame since the blend is perfectly spot on otherwise for a Punch.

Makes me start to wonder whether the Punch Platino RE India 2009 was so good because it had 2 years of age on it before i lit in up last year. Are the REs being made with youthful leaves? A sign of rushed production to meet supply demands? Or, like the LEs, an intentional design for a cigar that was meant not to be smoked young, but with some age on them?

It’s an unusual pattern i’m seeing. The H Upmann Half Corona i smoked with friends just a few nights ago, received massive acclaim from. The leaf was outstanding, perhaps a tad youthful as well, but well within range of what would be acceptable for a regular range production that was barely a few months old. But in a limited run cigar such as the Punch Sabrosos, the tobacco seems far from mature enough to command the premium price an RE fetches. It’s not bad, it just isn’t very good. Well, not yet, at least.

The flavours in the second half open up nicely, dark leather strips dipped in luxurious cocoa butter. The tannicity recedes somewhat, but is still perceivable. In the final third, the flavour profile intensifies nicely, with nice vanilla evolutions thrown into the mix. It really is very tasty at this point, and the punchy (pun intended) kick is pronounced. Not a cigar to be had on an empty stomach this one!

It performs quite well in this mode all the way to the nub, when i finally put it down to rest.

Verdict: 88/100. A good cigar, a clear current winner of the Asia Pacific REs. Like the QDO, it will perform even better with a bit more time to mature; the difference being, at it’s best, it will probably be heads and shoulders above the QDO. Worth buying a box or two of these and putting them down for a long-ish nap.