Last month, Kristoff Cigars announced it would be giving members of the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA) the first shot at purchasing a new line during the group’s annual event. Named the Kristoff Classic Reserva, the blend is made up of filler tobacco from the Dominican Republic, Honduras and Nicaragua with a Nicaraguan habano binder all covered in an Ecuadorian habano wrapper. It produced by Abe Flores at PDR Cigars in the Dominican Republic and is sold in three different vitolas, each sold in boxes of 20, with 1,000 boxes of each size sold.
Our news story announcing the release explains how the cigars were sold:
TAA members are scheduled to get their orders in early May, while retailers who order cigars at IPCPR will get them in early August. Case is limiting the total production to 3,000 boxes — 1,000 of each size, with TAA members getting access to the first 200 boxes of each size. The remaining 800 boxes of each size will be made available to all other retailers at the 2015 IPCPR Convention & Trade Show in July. The total production run is 60,000 cigars.
The Kristoff Classic Reserva was released in three different vitolas at launch, all of which are sold in boxes of 20:
- Kristoff Classic Reserva Robusto (5 x 52) — $8 (Boxes of 20, $160)
- Kristoff Classic Reserva Toro (6 1/4 x 54) — $8.50 (Boxes of 20, $170)
- Kristoff Classic Reserva Gordo (6 x 60) — $8.75 (Boxes of 20, $175)
- Cigar Reviewed: Kristoff Classic Reserva
- Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
- Factory: PDR Cigars
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Nicaraguan Habano
- Filler: Dominican Republic, Honduras & Nicaragua
- Size: 6 1/4 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 54
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $8.50 (Boxes of 20, $170)
- Date Released: April 21, 2015
- Number of Cigars Released: 1,000 Boxes of 20 (20,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3
A reddish brown wrapper that is quite smooth to the touch covers the Kristoff Classic Reserva, and also features a few major veins running up and down the length of the cigar. The cigar is just a touch hard when squeezed, and there is virtually no oil visible at all. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of faint hay, manure, nuts and mint, while the cold draw brings flavors of mint, leather, earth, nuts and grass.
The Kristoff Classic Reserva starts off with a combination of strong leather and earth notes up front, along with a bit of spice on the tongue. Other flavors of dark cocoa, tart citrus, grass, creamy almonds and oak flit in and out, and there is some nice black pepper on the retrohale, although almost no sweetness that I can detect as of yet. I almost immediately notice an aggressive bitterness on the finish after every puff that seems to only be getting stronger as the cigar burns down. The smoke production is massive off of the foot, and while the draw is a bit loose, the burn is a bit wavy as well. Strength-wise, the Kristoff Classic Reserva hits a point halfway between mild and medium by the end of the first third, but does seem to be getting stronger.
A slight floral sweetness becomes noticeable around the start of the second third of the Kristoff Classic Reserva, along with dominant flavors of earth and barnyard. Other notes of espresso, oak, creamy nuts, hay and tobacco are also present in lesser amounts, while the black pepper on the retrohale has increased noticeably. Unfortunately, the aforementioned flavors clash with an even more dominant bitterness on the finish, which does not seem to be waning anytime soon. Construction-wise, the draw has tightened up nicely, but the burn is still quite uneven, forcing me to touch it up a couple of times to keep it in line. As expected, the strength has increase and hits the medium mark very close to end of the second third, but seems content to stay there for a while.
The final third of the Kristoff Classic Reserva features the same dominant barnyard and earth notes, as well as a very aggressive bitterness on the finish that that thankfully seems to have leveled off. Sadly, the slight floral sweetness from the second third is long gone, but other notes of hay, tart lemongrass, tea leaves, licorice and oak are also present. The black pepper on the retrohale has calmed a bit, but is still strong enough to be a dominant player in the profile and the smoke production is still well above average. Both the burn and the draw have cleaned up their acts, and remain excellent until the end of the cigar, while the strength goes absolutely nowhere, ending up at a solid medium by the time I put the nub down with a little more than an inch to go.
- The ash on this particular release is extremely flaky, and started falling off in small chunks almost as soon as I lit it, and continued to do that throughout the smoke. By the end of each one of my samples, I had flakes all over my table and computer.
- I was very surprised at the mint note on the cold draw, and was hoping it would show up in the profile while smoking the cigar. Sadly, there was none to be found.
- Because of the aggressive bitterness on the finish, almost all of the flavor notes that I mention above come from the retrohale.
- Next year’s TAA meeting is scheduled for March 6-10 at the Westin Resort & Spa in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
- You can find your nearest TAA member here.
- The final smoking time for all three samples averaged one hour and 40 minutes.
- The cigars for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Site sponsors Elite Cigar Cafe (972.661.9136) and Serious Cigars have the Kristoff Classic Reserva in stock, while Emerson’s Cigars is a TAA members.
The Bottom Line: At its core, the Kristoff Classic Reserva is a cigar that seems at odds with itself, and this was a interesting experience for me. On the one hand, the unique combination of flavors in each third kept my attention quite well and kept me wondering what was coming next. On the other hand, the aggressive bitterness and spice on the finish was extremely off putting, and threw the balance of the whole blend off. If the cigar had a bit more sweetness to counteract the bitterness, it would have led to a more balanced cigar, and a more enjoyable cigar. As it is, I enjoyed most of what the Kristoff Classic Reserva had to offer, but the negatives are hard to ignore.