As far as taste and smoke duration, there are 3 basic components to a cigar:
The Blend itself: this usually provides around 60-70 % of the taste.
The Wrapper, this usually provides around 30-40 % of the taste.
The shape is a function of personal preference and "length of smoke" desired.
Approximately 70% of the taste of a cigar will come from the blend (internally) or "liga" , the rest, or about 30% will be derived from the wrapper.
Cut vs. Punch:
The cigar punch is a cigar tool used to cut a small circular hole in a cigar’s “cap” which allows the cigar to be smoked. Some people find the draw to be too tight when using a punch (less air comes through when sucking, causes less smoke to be produced and often leads to the cigar going out periodically). Using a punch on a cigar is a less intrusive way of opening up the cigar. The small hole it makes leaves the cap of the cigar mostly intact which prevents the wrapper from unraveling during smoking. Less smoke gets into your mouth this way, and for some, specially those who do not smoke with great frequency, is it a more pleasant way, as it allows for greater control of the smoke.
The cigar cutter acts like a guillotine. It cuts the cap end off of a cigar to allow air to pass through for smoking. Care must be taken when using a cutter not to cut too deep into the cigar. Cutting too much of the cigar will leave the draw much too loose (too much air comes through when sucking, causes cigar to overheat and turn bitter). Sometimes cutting a cigar causes loose tobacco flakes to end up in the smoker’s mouth. This can be prevented by using a very sharp, high quality, cutter. The advantage of the cutter is its versatility. A cutter can be used on virtually any shape, size, and type of cigar. For some who do not smoke with great frequency, the "cutter' allows too much smoke into their mouth.
When it is all said and done, each method has its advantages. Try them both and decide for yourself.
Photo courtesy of CigarAffection.com