The Kristania is Kristoff’s new budget conscious cigar that made its debut at the 2011 IPCPR trade show along with several other new offerings that will be reviewed in the coming weeks.
It uses a Nicaraguan Criollo Habano wrapper over Dominican Habano binder and filler, and is available in a 5” x 50 robusto, a 6” x 52 toro, and an unnamed 5.5” x 60 vitola. The cigars run about $5 each and are shipped in boxes of 50.
The wrapper is hard to fall in love with – it’s a cocoa powder brown that has numerous splotches on it and makes love at first sight a bit more difficult. The band almost seems to get sucked in by the color of the wrapper – maybe that’s by design, but it seems to keep the cigar from really standing out. Fortunately, this isn’t a beauty contest – it’s a cigar review, and looks are just a small factor in the overall picture.
The pre-light aroma isn’t terribly distinct – it is somewhat reminiscent of cookie dough, more in the sense that it has its own aroma, it smells like something, but nothing really notable. There seems to be just the faintest hint of spice in the background. The cold draw is a touch firm but perfectly acceptable, with no major notes coming out.
Once lit, the first notes show leather and a bit of wood, with minimal if any spice. A good opening note, especially from an entry into the $5 cigar competition.
All is well through the first inch until a crack emerges right up the cigar. Given that the crack goes right up to the band, there is a bit of apprehension as to what will happen once the band needs to come off.
Past the first inch, some pepper starts to enter the equation, possibly what was being picked up on the pre-light aroma. It’s not overpowering, but becomes an increasing part of the equation within an inch or so as the cigar starts transitioning from the first to second third.
The smoke volume remained a bit of an issue in the first half, as getting a real mouthful of good smoke was a bit of a challenge. This would improve in the second half.
Once the band comes off, the pepper seems to increase a bit, becoming more of a driving note than a background one. It stays in the equation through most of the final third, though at the expense of other flavors. There’s a bit of dry wood that comes through as well, but it’s clearly a peppery note that is steering the conversation.
For as much of an improvement as Kristoff has made in their cigars in the past year or two, it’s hard to feel excited about the Kristania. It’s certainly good, though the overriding dryness from the pepper is a hard finishing note to shake. It wouldn’t be the go-to cigar out of their line – their Criollo lancero still ranks fairly highly, as do the lanceros in their other blends. The Kristania is good, if just a bit misguided in its final third.
Three stars out of five, 86 points out of 100.
Read reviews of more cigars by clicking here, including cigars from the 2011 IPCPR Trade Show.
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