(Corrected July 18)
Kristoff, a nine-year-old cigar brand known for making pigtailed cigars with uncut feet, is undergoing a major expansion. Brand founder and owner Glen Case is poised to unveil what he is calling "the next generation of Kristoff," a series of four new blends made in a more elegant and traditional style, several of them with amped-up power. The new cigars, sold under the umbrella Kristoff Galerones Series, will be the first new products unveiled by Kristoff Cigars Inc. in two years.
"The packaging is going to be totally different, and the tobaccos I'm using are totally different," Case told Cigar Insider. The Galerones Series will be made without the signature Kristoff pigtail and uncut foot: they will have triple-seam caps (also known as mounted heads), clean-cut feet and will be packaged without the loose tobacco seen on the other incarnations of the Kristoff brand, which will still be sold. "The existing Kristoff series continues," said Case.
One of the definitions of the word galerónes in Spanish is "shed," and Case said the term is one that is used, rarely, to refer to tobacco barns. "You don't hear it used a lot in Cuba," said Case.
There will be four blends within the Kristoff Galerones Series, each with several sizes and different tobaccos. Many of the leaves being used are completely new to the brand.
"In one of the blends I'm using a San Andrés wrapper [from Mexico], another one has a Cubra wrapper from Brazil, grown from Habano seed," said Case. "In most of these blends I'm using a fair amount of Nicaraguan Estelí filler, which I haven't used. The Nicaraguan I've used the most has been from Jalapa."
Moving to filler tobacco from Estelí, known for strength, rather than Jalapa, which is known for balance, is part of Case's strategy to appeal to a smoker looking for a more powerful experience. He said most of the cigars in the Galerones Series would be fuller bodied with more spice, "but still maintaining that smooth, rich flavor that I'm known for."
Each blend will have a robusto (measuring 5 inches long by 52 ring), toro (6 1/4 by 54) and torpedo (6 1/4 by 52). Three of the four blends will have a 6 by 60 size, save for the mildest, which will instead have a Churchill measuring 7 by 52. Suggested retail on the new line is set to be around $10.00 to $11.50 per cigar, higher than the $8.00 to $10.00 found on other Kristoffs. Case is still working on several details of the new line.
While Kristoffs have historically been made at the Charles Fairmorn factory in the Dominican Republic, and will still be rolled there, the new Galerones Series is being made by Abe Flores at his PDR Cigars Dominicana factory in Tamboril, Dominican Republic.
Kristoff was founded in 2004, and the brand has achieved acceptance from consumers and critics alike. The Kristoff Corojo Limitada Torpedo was named No. 11 cigar of 2012 by Cigar Aficionado, and it scored 93 points. Case is not making changes to production of his other cigars.
When asked why he is moving away from the style that put his brand on the map, Case said: "There's a portion of the cigar market I'm missing."