Village Cigar Co., a Toronto-area retailer, has released store-exclusive versions of Kristoff’s Connecticut and Maduro lines that were made for its Bootlegger Series.

Both cigars are 5 1/2 x 54 box-pressed robustos with a finished foot that are described as punched-up versions of the original blends. The Kristoff Connecticut Bootlegger uses an Ecuadorian Connecticut-seed wrapper, a Nicaraguan habano binder, and a filler described as using Nicaraguan tobacco as well as “quad Dominican habano seed.” The store says it is a full-flavored, mild cigar that offers notes of vanilla, delicate notes of spice, cream and a sweet nutty finish.

The Kristoff Maduro Bootlegger uses a Brazilian maduro wrapper, a Dominican-grown Cuban-seed binder, and a filler containing more Dominican Cuban-seed tobacco as well as Nicaraguan-grown leaves. Village Cigar Co. calls it medium-bodied with notes of coffee bean, cocoa bean, a hint of spice and a sweet dark chocolate finish.

Both cigars get updated banding that differs from what is found on Kristoff’s core lines, though Kristoff’s logo is on the back of the band of the Bootlegger.

The store is doing an initial release of 1,250 cigars of each blend but anticipates that more will be made in the future. Both cigars are offered in 10-count bundles, either with 10 of the same blend or five of each blend. Pricing is set at CA$19 ($13.95) per cigar.

Village Cigar Co. debuted its Bootlegger series in late 2017 with the Alec Bradley Black Market Bootlegger, a 5 1/4 x 54 box-pressed robusto that put a spin on the original Black Market. The company debuted the cigar with a backstory about the Bootlegger’s inspiration:

A hero to many, yet known to so few, Pine L. Cork defined what it is to be properly defiant in the face of extreme bureaucracy. Through a story passed from generation to generation, the legend of “The Lost Crates” was born…

It was a full-lit night, well almost full. See it was the fog, the kind of fog that you can feel with your lungs. It was August 1929, and we were speeding toward our last delivery through the unmarked logging trails we’d come to know better than the freckles on our own wives’ faces. We could barely see past the edge of the hood as my brother Pete lit his last cigar of the night, when suddenly we hit something that almost tore the axles clean off of her. We came to a complete halt, me and Pete thrown almost a hundred feet from the truck. I could barely see but for the ember of my cigar when we picked ourselves up to see what could have delivered such an impact. As we approached the backside we realized the rear doors had been blown wide open and it was then I heard Pete “GULP” and I turned to see what was wrong: the entire truck had been emptied, save for a few broken crates and loose jars.

To this day, those lost crates haven’t been recovered. Nothing but whispers of them being spotted up north, in Canada, but no concrete evidence has come. Honestly I don’t expect to ever hear of their whereabouts. It’s one of those things. When you have something so precious and sought after, those who know, keep it that way. As they should.

Village Cigar Co. operates locations in Burlington, Oakville, and Guelph, Ontario.

Photos by Geoffrey Cole for Village Cigar Co.

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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 previously the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for Major League Baseball, plus I'm a voice over artist. Prior to joining halfwheel, I covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.