On March 29, Glen Case of Kristoff released the details of his new small batch cigar in an exclusive to halfwheel. The Kristoff 685 Woodlawn draws its name from the suburban Chicago house in which Case lived until he was 21 years old.

While the Kristoff 685 Woodlawn won’t be formally released until the IPCPR trade show in July, Case will be offering up to 1,000 boxes to retailers who attended the Tobacconist Association of America annual meeting in the Dominican Republic from April 7 -11. For those not familiar with the TAA meeting, just shy of 100 of the country’s largest retailers are members, and during their meeting numerous manufacturers offer tiered levels of deals based on the group’s collective buy. Case said that if his highest tier deal is met by the group, he will then offer the 685 Woodlawn to them and begin shipping in late May or early June. If they hadn’t reached that mark, all 2,000 boxes would have been made available at the IPCPR trade show with shipping to begin immediately after.

The boxes are still be finalized, though Case described it as being “very elegant.” He provided this image of the bands, which he noted will be “rich with gold foil and gold powder.”

Kristoff 685 Woodlawn Band

The 685 Woodlawn will highlight what Case said will be multiple new releases for the company this year as he unveils what he calls “a whole new Kristoff.”

Kristoff 685 Woodlawn 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: Kristoff 685 Woodlawn
  • Country of Origin: Dominican Republic
  • Factory: Charles Fairmorn
  • Wrapper: Brazil
  • Binder: Nicaragua
  • Filler: Nicaragua, Dominican Republic & Undisclosed
  • Size: 6 1/2 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 60
  • Vitola: Perfecto
  • MSRP: $13.00 (Boxes of 10, $130.00)
  • Release Date: May 2013*  
  • Number of Cigars Released: 2,000 Boxes of 10 (20,000 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 2

*Per the notes above, up to 1,000 boxes will ship in late May or early June to TAA members who purchase it. The remaining stock will ship following the IPCPR trade show in July.

The Brazilian wrapper has a good bit of tooth to it and a decent vein structure showing in its medium brown color. There’s not a lot of give in the 685 Woodlawn, though I’m hesitant to squeeze too hard as the wrapper doesn’t feel like it would survive intact. The pre-light aroma is very dry with notes of wood, pepper and a bit of baking spice that overpowers a fragrant sweetness. The cold draw is easy and has a slightly doughy note with subdued baking spice, much more approachable and engaging than what the nose picked up. It measures about 46 ring gauge at the foot and about 34 ring gauge where you’d place your cut, with the 60 ring gauge measurement taken just slightly ahead of the midpoint. The cap seems just slightly less than perfect on the first cigar – close but with a bit of imperfection.

The Kristoff 685 Woodlawn wastes no time delivering flavor, albeit in a unfamiliar one that has me wondering how much is coming from the Brazilian wrapper and how much is coming from that third leaf of filler that Case wouldn’t disclose. The first third seems built around a dry, lumberyard wood type backbone, with just a few hints of pepper and baking spice giving it some character. The smooth smoke and medium body is paired with a good bit of front of the tongue tingles, giving the 685 Woodlawn a good bit of character early. The first clump of ash drops off at just about an inch in, and right about where the cigar reaches the 60 ring gauge mark. It holds on fairly well provided you handle the cigar gently, but will quickly let go with even the slightest tap.

Kristoff 685 Woodlawn 2

There is certainly no shortage of smoke production as the Kristoff 685 Woodlawn transitions to the second third; it’s not billowing clouds of heavy, dark smoke, though it puts off a good amount. A subtle shift in flavor begins right at the midpoint – while that lumberyard wood note still drives the flavor and aroma, it expands to be a bit more complex, particularly in the nose. A pizza dough note starts to come out and the pepper gets a little darker and just a bit more intense, engaging more than just the front of the tongue as it had earlier. The burn line has stayed sharp so far, revealing tightly stacked layers of dark gray ash. There is also a butterscotch note that dips in and out in the transition to the final third, providing both a bit of sweetness and a smooth texture to the smoke.

Kristoff 685 Woodlawn 3

Strength ramps up notably in the final third of the Kristoff 685 Woodlawn, as it seems the nicotine content has increased and it’s becoming a medium-full cigar. The pepper continues to play a significant role in the taste, though it has slightly retreated from the path it was on earlier. While it’s not overpowering, it is certainly fuller bodied than it was when the ring gauge was at a similar size at the other end. The heat in the closing two inches starts to sour the flavors a bit, so getting this down to the nub requires a bit slower draw to eek out the remaining woody, peppery notes as smoke continues to billow out all the way down to the end of the cigar.

Kristoff 685 Woodlawn 4

Final Notes:

  • I’ve always been a fan of the Perfecto shape for what it provides to a cigar in terms of varying ring gauges. While the Kristoff 685 Woodlawn is a 60 ring gauge in the middle, there’s plenty of it not at that size.
  • The house at 685 Woodlawn has been out of the family for 27–28 years, according to Case.
  • Case isn’t disclosing the city that the house is in, for what should be obvious reasons.
  • I do think it would be kind of weird to be the tenants of the current house and find out there’s a cigar named for it. Even weirder if people stopped by for photos.
  • Kudos to Kristoff for shipping the cigars with humidification.
  • Case e-mailed me on Wed., April 9 to say that the TAA members had reached the goal and would be able to purchase the 685 Woodlawn.
  • He also updated his Facebook page with a status that said “The 685 Woodlawn in production!!!!!!” That followed this picture of the 685 Woodlawn in cigar presses with the note “’Good Morning’ Everyone!!”
    Kristoff 685 Woodlawn mold
  • Case said he didn’t anticipate deleting any lines this year, though he did mention he is considering discontinuing some smaller ring gauge vitolas that aren’t selling well. He seemed to indicate the Lanceros in his core lines are safe though, which should come as a relief to those who have tried them.
  • I keep going back and forth on the shape – while I love Perfectos, the 60 ring gauge thing isn’t my thing. However the head of the cigar is almost the size of a Lancero, so it doesn’t feel like a 60.
  • Last November, Kristoff announced the addition of a 7 x 70 to their Kristania line.
  • The company is named for Case’s son, Christopher, while he has a lined named Britannia Reserva for his daughter, Brittany.
  • The cigars for this review were provided by Glen Case of Kristoff.
  • Final smoking time is about 1 hours and 50 minutes.
87 Overall Score

The Kristoff 685 Woodlawn is about as good as anything I can remember trying from Kristoff's portfolio, though I still have a fondness for the Lanceros in their Sumatra and Criollo lines. There seems to be a layer of complexity missing from the 685 Woodlawn that keeps it from being a truly stellar cigar, as the flavor is much more a progression of intensity than an experience of having subtle nuances appear and disappear. At this point, it's a very likable cigar that makes a nice addition to the upper end of Kristoff's portfolio.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for MLB.com, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for Examiner.com, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.