Punch vs. Hoyo de Monterrey – A Debate Finally Settled

You will find that my cigar smoking habits may be a little different than most of my contemporaries. I certainly do smoke a lot of different, new and unusual smokes, but I don’t generally go out of my way to get the newest and rarest. Much of this has to do with my frugal nature, I’m a cheap bastard. The thing is, I have always had a healthy regard for the big brands, as often seeing a “yellow box” Partagas is as much of a treat as something like a Tatuaje (which I have not smoked many of, save for the La Casita Criolla) or something of that ilk. I honestly enjoy the heck out of a plain old Macanudo Maduro, and lets face it, while Macanudo and Partagas are not outrageously priced, they aren’t cheap, and I know first hand that they have the same care and passion put into them as any other cigar. The same can be said for Romeo y Julieta and Montecristo, both are made by an enormous company, in massive quantities, but the quality of materials and construction cannot be disputed. Anyway, that’s a little bit off of today’s subject, but gives some background and basis for the subject of this article.


A few posts back, MoBarbq left a comment referring to the Punch London Club Maduro in comparison to the Hoyo de Monterrey Sabroso. These two cigars are made in the same factory in Honduras (HATSA), and are the same size. It brought to mind a seemingly endless discussion back in the 90s (and to this day) about the Punch and Hoyo lines. There was a conspiracy theory that the Rothschilds were the same cigars, just packaged in the different boxes (at the time the Rothschilds were un-banded). Both lines were available in natural, maduro and double maduro (oscuro or maduro maduro), were priced the same and were close enough in flavor to fuel this suspicion. Also, if you look at the two lines, there are quite a few parallels in sizes, the Sabroso and London Club being another. Just recently as I was shopping for some Punch and Hoyo examples, my local tobacconist told me that he witnessed with his own eyes Punch and Hoyo cigars being taking from the same rolling tables in the factory. The info from the CigarWorld.com website would make you think that there is some truth to this:


Hoyo de Monterrey

Wrapper: Ecuadoran Sumatra  (Natural) and Connecticut Broadleaf (Maduro)

Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan, Dominican (Piloto Cubano)

Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf

Country: Honduras

Factory: Honduras American Tabaco S. A., Cofradia, Honduras



Wrapper: Ecuadoran Sumatra  (Natural) and Connecticut Broadleaf (Maduro)

Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan, Dominican (Piloto Cubano)

Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf

Country: Honduras

Factory: Honduras American Tabaco S. A., Cofradia, Honduras


I’m on a constant quest for cigar knowledge, so, I will finally find an answer to the age old debate.

  • This controversy goes back at least to a 1984 article in Connoisseur Magazine where Frank Llaneza is quoted as saying, when asked about the difference: “The filler is pretty much the same, but we try to use binder leaf from the upper primings for Punch; they’re stronger-tasting. Hoyo uses the lower to middle leaf as binder. It is mellower and more aromatic.”
  • In a 1995 interview with Dan Blumenthal, Marvin Shanken asked the question “C.A.: How would you describe the difference in blend or style or taste between Hoyo and Punch?  Blumenthal: I think that Punch is a little heavier cigar than the Hoyo. There’s a little more flavor, to me, than in the Hoyo de Monterrey. There is a difference. The blends are made by Frank Llaneza”.
  • So, I inquired of Victoria McKee Jaworski, the Public Relations Director at General Cigar, about these two references and she got me some updated information. She said “they have different ratios of tobacco, so the blends are different. Punch is slightly fuller-bodied and uses more ligero. Its wrapper is closer to a Colorado color. And for Hoyo, the wrapper is a lighter shade of Ecuadoran Sumatra”. In the case of the maduro, Agustin Garcia, production manager at HATSA, the man responsible for tobacco processing and cigar production, tells us: “The wrapper for Punch Maduro and HDM Maduro is Connecticut Broadleaf for both of them. For Punch we use a darker color and little heavier wrapper than HdM”.

So there we have it. While the materials used in both lines of cigars are similar, and in some cases the same, there are differences. The Punch is blended to be a little more powerful and the Hoyo is supposed to be a little more refined. That puts that controversy to bed once and for all, and I can go back to my local shop and argue with them that they do not, in fact, take cigars from the same rolling table and box them in Punch or Hoyo boxes (of course, they go from the rolling tables into the aging rooms long before they are banded, wrapped and boxed!).


Since I’ve been smoking my way through a box of Hoyo Sabroso Maduro for the last year, and managed to get my hands on a box of Punch London Club Maduros, I figured I’d see for myself what the difference is.  I’m half way through the box Hoyo Sabrosos and I’ve really been enjoying them. They have the reasonably heavy,  dark maduro flavors I look for in the colder months.  Every one has been well made and most have been smoked down to a tiny nub.  I bought this box last year and it has been in my humidor ever since.  I just received a box of the Punch London Club Maduros this week, so they haven’t had the benefit of a year’s rest, but I smoked a couple of them anyway!  The cigars appear to have a darker, oilier wrapper than the Hoyos, they are gorgeous. To me, the Punch is a little stronger in flavor, consistent with all of the evidence provided above, so I have no reason to doubt that each line has it’s own distinctive blend, even if that difference is a matter of primings, leaf selections or proportions.  As far as I’m concerned, both are outstanding little smokes, although, admittedly, comparing year old cigars to new ones isn’t a very scientific way to do it!  I also managed to smoke an old favorite, the Punch Rothschild Maduro Maduro this week, and boy, was it good!  Savory and lush flavors and a long finish…another yummy smoke!


That’s it for now, until the next time,





Filed under Editorial, News, Review

8 Responses to Punch vs. Hoyo de Monterrey – A Debate Finally Settled

  1. Batmang

    Great post Craig. Now I expect you to take on the famous “cello on/cello off” controversy. Keep up the great work pal!

  2. Lloyd L.

    Which Punch cigar do you like most? And which is your favorite HdM?

    • Gotta go with the Rothschilds in both cases based on sheer volume smoked, Double Maduro for the Punch and the maduro for the Hoyo. They have a ton of sizes, most of which I haven’t smoked. The petit coronas I mentioned are really nice too.

  3. Allen

    Once again Craig a great comentary. It is funny to see the difference in cigars across the world. I know i purchased some and looks like 2 companies make them one out of Miami and one from Cuba, same name and looks but i hope different blends.

  4. czerbe

    Nice article Craig, I to agree that some of the big brands get a bad wrap, I mean most of us started out on these sticks anyway, and they are big and popular for a reason, While I always enjoy lighting up a Botique, I can’t pass up a good Partagas Black Lable

  5. Interesting story! I’ll try these out both as morning smokes sometime soon and see if I come to the same conclusion.

    Peter G

  6. Good write up, I had suspected the higher priming on the Punch for years but now I now. I love all of Frank’s blends, he’s a master cigar maker.