November 6, 2008
Origin : Nicaragua
Format : Corona Grande
Size : 165 x 18 mm [6 1/2” x 46]
Ring : 46
Wrapper : Nicaragua
Filler : Nicaragua
Binder : Nicaragua
Price : ~$2.50 each [~$60 for a box of 25]
What do you get when you cross a bundled value cigar with the signature blending style of Don Pepin Garcia? You get Benchmade, a mixed filler cigar by Ashton.
Appearance : [rating:3.5/5]
The bands and boxes these are packed in are plain and nondescript. Unless you’re looking for these, I could see them being lost among the glitz and glamour of competing products. The cigars themselves, however, are attractive. The wrapper is nice and dark, no large veins or noticeable flaws. There is a small pigtail at the cap that just doesn’t look as good as some other pigtails I’ve seen.
Construction : [rating:3/5]
Somewhat of a spongy feel on the squeeze. Clipping the head was a mess. Bits of tobacco spilled out. During smoking, there were a few times where I had to spit some bits of tobacco, but not as much as I expected. The burn was respectably straight, requiring only the slightest of touchups. The only crack in the wrapper occurred when removing the band. One thing that got on my nerves throughout the time I spent smoking this cigar was that the ash kept falling off unexpectedly. It got on the table, on my lap, in my drink, and on the laptop.
Flavor : [rating:3/5]
When smoking a cigar, I like to be taken on a journey. I like when the flavors morph and expand, keeping my interest and begging for more. Unfortunately these Benchmade’s were less like a planned journey, and more like getting lost on a mountain road. Between the 3 sticks I smoked this week I noticed quite a bit of inconsistency. Granted, 2 of the cigars were purchased this week, with the stick pictured purchased 5 months ago. Being mixed filler, it’s highly improbable that a great deal of consistency can be found. But even within a particular cigar I found peaks and valleys of flavor, rather than rolling hills.
At the light, blasts of white and black pepper smack you on the tongue and in the back of the throat. The pepper really blocked out any other flavors for the 1st third, when it moved off of the tongue and allowed for some light wood to sneak through. The middle third was nothing to speak of, providing flavors of earth and spice, and popsicle stick undertones.
The final third is when this cigar changed direction completely. The amount of smoke doubled, and flavors exploded. The pepper and spice completely leaves, filling my mouth with great flavors of tobacco, earth, and something I can only describe as chewiness.
Value : [rating:3.5/5]
I think $2.50 is a good price for this cigar. I didn’t feel like I spent too much for this cigar, but I didn’t really get the feeling that I got a great deal. With Benchmade, you get what you pay for.
Overall Rating : [rating:3/5]
The market is simply flooded with cigars at the price point, especially online. Most of them are consistently bad. These cigars were anything but consistent in terms of both as a cigar, and as a cigar line. That being said, these are worth a try. I think a better Pepin-blended mixed-filler choice would be a Tatuaje White Label, but they cost a bit more.
April 20, 2013
My Review of the Benchmade Robusto
The pigtail head is loosely tied so that when you punch it or clip it, it kinda begins to unravel on you. It has a nice easy draw as I expect out of a mixed filler (some short filler and long filler) cigar, but often times as a result of underfilling the cigar, see evidence below.
The flavors are straightforward Pepin, medium-bodied and strength with a little bit of pepper and earth with a hint of cocoa. The ash is flaky, decent smoke volume, but the cigar does begin to heat up halfway through. And of course being a mixed filler, there is no complexity.
I guess I can’t really expect much from a mixed filler and this does nothing for me to reward it the new king of the cheapo stogie, that still belongs to Oliva.
Rating: 80 (B-)
May 3, 2011
not a fan, dry peppery taste aand an uneven burn. im a fan of sweeter cigars so maybe im biased.
November 18, 2009
I’m on my second box now and aside from a bit of the filler ending up in your mouth, it’s a tough smoke to beat.Very tasty.
September 30, 2009
Finally got around to smoking one and my thoughts are for the $ they would be a good golf coarse smoke and one for the back yard after the grass was cut–or during..Not bad for the cash–at all!
February 19, 2009
Seems like it’s not too bad for a 2.50 stick.
February 9, 2009
Have yet to try this line and have one in the cooler–maybe soon
January 27, 2009
I’ve smoked a few of these, and I’d have to agree with the reviewer about preferring the Tatuaje P-Series. But, The Tat will cost you and extra buck, too.
Still, this is a decent smoke for $3+change, and the taste and construction is a cut above the run-of-the-mill mixed-fill cigar.
January 27, 2009
I was surprised at the strength of the ash on this mixed filler cigar. The flavor was ok, but I’d rather pay a little more for a premium Tat.
November 10, 2008
You make a good point about finding some great value cigars in the 3 dollar price range online – however most of the B&M refuse to carry much, if any, product in that price range.
So with Ashton behind it this one does get through the front door. And I am sure happy – it never hurts to save a few bucks for even a quick smoke.
November 9, 2008
Well said! I appreciate your comments.
I hope this review didn’t come off differently than I intended. I wasn’t expecting filet at the price of hamburger. I reviewed this cigar with the expectations of this statement, quoted from Ashton’s website:
“Benchmade boasts the flavor and construction of a super-premium cigar, yet the attractive price-tag of a value bundle.”
They’re not advertising this as a “pretty damned good $3 smoke”, they’re pushing this as a super premium. Super premium cigars don’t flake ash everywhere. Super premium cigars aren’t all over the place in terms of flavor.
Also, I’m comparing these against other cigars in the under $5 price range. JFR, several CAO, El Cobre, Consuega, Cusano, La Gloria Cubana Wavell, several Oliva…life is too short to smoke bad cigars. In my opinion the Benchmade is a pass. Buy hey! That just leaves more for you to smoke!
November 6, 2008
i guess you can’t really expect too much from a short-filler that’s usually priced b/t $2-3 per stick, but i was actually rather impressed with these cigars, especially compared to several of the pricier big-house producers. i mean, you can’t fault a short-filler cigar for ashing on your lap, that’s kind of your fault. if you know it’s a short-filler cigar, you ought to ash carefully and ash often. while i’ve smoked several of these and have been impressed by the lengths at which the ash will actually hold on, i don’t think i’d ever pass it over my drink w/o tapping and rolling first. and who cares about your lap? your pants are already going to, by most peoples’ standards, smell like crap: you’re smoking a cheap cigar!
anyway, one thing i like about these cigars is the fact that they can act as a great budget, day to day cigar. while i’m not surprised that you found them inconsistent, i am disappointed. i personally found that their flavor was rather on the mark from stick to stick–cinnamon, leather, irish cream, oily, some tang–and i found that they burned pretty damn well (certainly better than the la gloria reserva limitada that i smoked last night) as each one was razor straight. now, even if you don’t want to pretend that you’re not really smoking the bits and pieces they’ve swept up for pepin from around the ashton factory, you could still look at this cigar and say, “this is a pretty damned good $3 smoke.”
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