September 27, 2023 3:05 pm

Kristoff 685 Woodlawn

“The Secret to Success, As With All Aged Single Malts, Give Them Time In The Glass,The Slower You Go, The Farther You’re Going To Get With The Experience!”

—‘Ralfy’ Mitchell (Whisky Reviewer)

What Makes It Special

Kristoff Cigars brand founder Glen Case produced this cigar, starting in 2014, to bring consumers back to their nostalgic childhood home memories. His goal is portrayed in the cigar’s name, ‘685 Woodlawn’, which is the actual address where Glen was raised. This limited edition premium cigar, only 2,500 (10 count) boxes produced each year, is filled with limited ‘secret sauce’ Habano tobaccos from Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The very rare Brazilian Sumatra seed binder is topped with a nice oily Brazilian Cubra (Viso) wrapper, a darker leaf that produces rich aromatic spicy flavors. Glen revealed there are only two very skilled people that produce these cigars, one roller and one buncher. The leaves are separately aged between two to three years, rolled, then aged for an additional two years.

Glen is strategic in understanding that “it is totally unrealistic if you think you know everything or ever will. It is surrounding yourself with good people, colleagues and friends who know more than you!”. Outside of the corporate finance and cigar industries, Glen spends his rare down time with family. His own cigar brand, Kristoff, is actually named after his son Christopher. Glen also sponsors The Great Lakes Smoke Show (GLSS), where he has previously and recently categorized his 685 Woodlawn to be “the best cigar we make!”. This is a hilarious weekly cigar, tobacco, and spirits focused podcast (Facebook Live/Youtube/Twitch) that has absorbed me, “Joey G”, as their quarterly “Whiskey Week” Co-host.

Kristoff 685 Woodlawn

Brand:  Kristoff Cigars
Vitola: 6.5×60 Perfecto                       
Filler: Nicaragua / Dominican Habano
Binder: Rare Brazilian Sumatra
Wrapper: Brazilian Cubra 
Age: 3-5 Years           
Price: $14

Visual / Pre-light Draw

Cool angular overlapping wrapper leaf with big bold overlapping veins. There are a few cool dark shaded areas on the wrapper, which has a nice exterior odor of fresh hay and coco. The nice oily wrapper is a bit rough to the touch, but beautifully constructed.  The cigar’s elegant red navy and gold double band displays ‘Kristoff over 685 Woodlawn Glen Case Series’. The smooth dry draw is very sweet and coco infused. This is a very fancy looking, traditional Cuban cut perfecto cigar, deserving of a nice angled straight cut and slow but rewarding soft yellow flame light.

First Third

Smoothest initial draw, like butter melting in the mouth. Both bands immediately slid off, without having to unravel them, in opposite directions, without disturbing the beautifully constructed, classically shaped torpedo cigar. Immediate burst of big oak and wood flavors as I allow the Glencadam to spend some time in the glass, to open up the bouquet. Amazing sweet hazelnut and melted chocolate foot smoke aroma, which I kept nosing and nosing, like a beautiful whisky. The retrohale produces a perfect little spicy punch with bold oak flavors and a hint of french bread. There is also a pleasant hint of creamy palate coating coco and saltiness.  Amazing flavor on the inoffensive retrohale and lengthy first third experience. The cigar burns nice and even, and the ash holds beautifully. The bouquet of Glencadam, blossoming in my Whisky Network stolze, is tantalizing, but patience will be rewarded.

Second Third

Incredible ash is holding perfectly and a nice chocolate covered marzipan flavor is coming in. Time for a nip of the Glencadam, absolutely delicious with this cigar. The cigar’s mouth coating flavors of oak and coco are meshing well with the tropical notes of the whisky, while its consistent even burn continues. The cigar is slowly but surely calming and relaxing me. Some nice vanilla spice coming in on the still inofensive and effortless retrohale. I found myself retrohaling this cigar more than any other. GLSS Co-host Kyle Jesso said he got a nice earthy and cinnamon note on his palate, and Glen agreed. This is a beautiful, incredibly smooth, medium bodied Kristoff expression that is absolutely delicious, impressionable, and we’re still going.

Final Third

The ash finally fell off with dignity halfway through the cigar and into this final third experience. Time to open up the bouquet of Glencadam 21 with a few dashes of water. The cigar keeps getting creamier and the effortless draw remains like butter with a hint of pistachios on the palate. This is a special dessert treat cigar, reminiscent of those childhood desserts served after a special family dinner. For me, it’s that special family occasion cannoli cake, covered in finely chopped walnuts, from the old Galewood Chicago neighborhood Dominos Bakery. This final third experience brought me back to my childhood home dining room table, for dessert, surrounded by family, on a bright and breezy summer evening, with the windows open. Glen definitely accomplished his goal with this sweet aromatic and flavorful cigar, as I yelled out to myself: “Glen! You f&%#ing did it!”

Paired with the Glencadam 21, there was an incredible chocolate covered marzipan flavor woven into tropical guava fruits, along with big green banana and pineapple notes. The rich lingering whipped cream and honey suckle covered key lime pie finish is ‘velvety’, with a nice hint of butterscotch and spiced vanilla toffee. An absolutely incredible pairing, which requires a little patience and a little water, for a big reward!

The Pairing

California based WBSE member James Watkins has dubbed me to be “The King of The Highlands”, even though I live in Chicago. Scotch Lord Watkins knows I have a profound fondness for the malty goodness produced in  Scotland’s Highland region. My favorite Highland distilleries are Glenmorangie, Dalmore, and Glencadam. Glencadam 10 is easily my favorite daily sipper. Glencadam 15 was famous scotch whisky reviewer, Ralf Mitchell’s, aka “Ralfy”, 2015 malt of the year. 

Surprisingly, I had yet to pair a lower east kingdom of Angus Glencadam expression with a cigar. Recently, a few Glencadam 21 year old bottles became available at my favorite Oakbrook (IL) Binny’s Beverage Depot. Given the rarity of seeing anything from the smaller family owned distillery on the shelves, it was time to seal the deal! Glencadam 21 is a light extravagant budget friendly whisky that is bottled at that magic 46% ABV. Canadian based WBSE member, Mark Kaufmann (Winnipeg), gave it a high Whisky Whistle score of 94/100. See Mark’s full Whisky Whistle Glencadam 21 review here.

“Glencadam has operated two pot stills since the beginning (1825). An unusual feature about the stills is that their lye pipes run upwards at an angle of 15 degrees rather than downwards. The belief is that this helps to produce a particularly delicate and mellow spirit which after maturation yields sweet and fruity notes in the final product”. Their 21 year old expression has consistently earned high ratings: 2013 Scotch Whisky Master Gold Medal, 2014 San Francisco World Spirits Competition Double Gold, 2017 International Wine & Spirits Competition Silver Medal, and a recent high Ralfy ‘malt mark’ of 90/100.

GLSS Co-host “Cousin Frank” Minutillo suggested a “Battle of the Glens”, and recommended we pair Glen Case’s 685 Woodlawn Cigar with the Glencadam 21, live on my second quarterly (May 10th) “Whiskey Week” GLSS appearance. Glen Case was kind enough to join us live, this was a big honor and we appreciate his amazing contributions to the pairing podcast! 

Paired with the Glencadam 21, there was an incredible chocolate covered marzipan flavor woven into tropical guava fruits, along with big green banana and pineapple notes. The rich lingering whipped cream and honey suckle covered key lime pie finish is ‘velvety’, with a nice hint of butterscotch and spiced vanilla toffee. An absolutely incredible pairing, which requires a little patience and a little water, for a big reward!

Visit KRISTOFF.COM for products, where to buy, and upcoming events. 

Cheers WBSE!

Acknowledgment & Live Pairing

Thank you to Kristoff Founder Glen Case, Whisky Whistle’s Mark Kaufmann, and The Great Lakes Smoke Show crew (Ronnie Pecorini, Bob Pecorini, Frank Minutillo, and Kyle Jesso) for an amazing live pairing podcast, which can be viewed here:

Photography by: James Archie

"Whisky is liquid sunshine."

George Bernard Shaw

“The light music of whiskey falling into a glass – an agreeable interlude.”

James Joyce

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