I first became aware of the Benchmade brand a couple years ago while working for Savinelli Cigars. I was calling on a store in Arizona and ran into a fellow cigar rep that worked for Ashton. He gave me a few samples of his brand and one of the cigars was a new value cigar they had just came out with called Benchmade. He told me that it was in the sub five dollar price range so I wasn’t expecting much.
I found it odd that the Ashton name was nowhere to be found on the cigar band or anywhere in the packaging. Some suggested to me that Ashton didn’t want to be associated with a “value” cigar so they sold it under a different name. I don’t know whether that is true in this particular instance, but it is not uncommon for premium cigar brands to sell bundle or value cigars under a different name. But this cigar is one that outperforms many cigars on the market that cost twice as much. In fact, you may find that a retailer in your area will keep this hidden gem of a cigar from you because he doesn’t want you to step down from the $6-8 price range to buy these.
Benchmade is a “Cuban sandwich” cigar finished with a pigtail cap. A Cuban sandwich is a cigar in which short and medium-filler tobaccos are placed inside long-filler tobaccos and cradled inside a long-filler binder leaf. This particular Cuban sandwich is filled and wrapped with dark, delicious Nicaraguan tobaccos. As with many cigars made with Nicaraguan tobacco, it has a spicy and peppery taste and is medium to strong in terms of strength.
Another great quality of the Benchmade is its construction. Whenever you have a cigar that includes short or medium-filler tobaccos, there is always the risk of the cigar falling apart. Yet I’ve rarely had that problem with this cigar. This is probably because the cigar is rolled by Jose “Pepin” Garcia, one of the premier cigar producers in the industry today. He consistently puts out high-quality cigars in every price range made with high-quality tobaccos.
Benchmade comes in 5 different sizes: churchill, toro, cazadore, robusto, and the super-fat gordo. They can typically be found for under $5 in most states, and you should even be able to find them under $4. If you like stronger, Nicaraguan cigars then grab a few of these and head out to the first tee.
[ Phil is an expert on all things cigar and the owner of Tobacconists of Cary.]