Kristoff Guardrail Cigar Review

Kristoff is a cigar brand I really love. When I started treating cigars as more of a hobby than a habit, I found myself gravitating towards their “Humid-A-Bag” sampler packs.

The brand’s extensive lineup is fantastic for developing a new cigar smoker’s palate and when the Guardrail came out I knew I had to try it. Accordingly, I’ll be reviewing Kristoff’s Guardrail in the Robusto vitola via the following categories:

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  • Brand: Kristoff
  • Range: Guardrail
  • Reviewed Vitolas: 5.5 x 54 Robusto
  • Wrapper: Brazilian Maduro
  • Binder: Dominican Republic
  • Filler: Dominican Republic & Zimbabwe
  • Factory: Tabacalera Von Eicken, D.R.
    • Formerly Charles Fairmorn Factory
  • Handmade: Yes
  • Body: Full
  • Estimated Smoking Time: 90  Minutes
  • Pricing: $170 / Box of 20 [Buy Now]

The Guardrail is a departure for Kristoff. Typically all their cigars are named based on what is on the inside: Kristoff Cameroon, Kristoff Sumatra, etc.

The name “Guardrail” comes from a near-death experience the Kristoff owner, Glen Case, had while on a motorcycle colliding with a … guardrail.

Kristoff Guardrail Brazilian Maduro Cigar

Shop The Kristoff Guardrail Online!

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Kristoff Guardrail Look & Feel

  • Wrapper Hue: Dark Chocolate
  • Rolling Consistency: Straight
  • Spring: Firm, Slightly Hard
  • Aromas: Leather, Barnyard, Cocoa

The Kristoff Guardrail has a very unique blend.

Kristoff Guardrail Cigar Pigtail Cap End

The wrapper is Brazilian maduro, the binder is Dominican, and the filler includes both Dominican and rare Zimbabwe tobacco. The wrapper is positively beautiful, showcasing a matte finish with a distinctly toothy texture.

True to the Kristoff brand, this cigar is adorned with a pigtail cap, a detail I personally enjoy. However, it also has a closed foot, a characteristic I find less appealing, as it tends to slow down the process of reaching my preferred humidity level. Fortunately, this is nothing a Boveda pack and a bit of patience can’t remedy.

Closed Foot Of Kristoff Guardrail

Kristoff Guardrail Cigar Review

Here’s a fun fact about the pigtail cap on this cigar: should you ever be caught without a cutter, a simple twist and pull of the pigtail can serve as an impromptu punch cutter! It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly good enough.

Brazilian Maduro Wrapper Details Kristoff Guardrail

Pre-Lighting Experience

  • Draw: Some Resistance
  • Aromas: Chocolate, Dark Rum, Moss

On the cold draw, which is a bit tighter than I usually like due to the closed foot, there’s an intriguing blend of flavors. It evokes notes of creamy milk chocolate, rich dark rum, and a hint of earthy moss, making for a captivating pre-light experience.

1st Third Smoking Experience

  • Notes: Chocolate Pretzel, Graham, Thyme

Upon first lighting the Guardrail, it greets you with delightful notes of salted chocolate, accompanied by a subtle hint of cinnamon on the retrohale.

1st Third Smoking Kristoff Guardrail Cigar

I generally have a reservation about closed-foot cigars as they tend to scatter ash upon lighting – an experience that’s led to a few burn holes in my shirts. However, the ash produced by this cigar is quite remarkable.

The presence of white bumps on the exterior of the Brazilian mauro wrapper, indicative of the oil deposits, adds a visually appealing touch that I find particularly enjoyable.

2nd Third Smoking Experience

  • Notes: Salted Caramel, Vanilla Bean, Dutch Cocoa

In the second third of the Guardrail, the flavor profile subtly shifts.

Second Third Smoking Guardrail Cigar

The initial chocolate pretzel notes mature into a more nuanced salted caramel character. It’s not overly sweet but rather richly flavored.

On the retrohale, it brings to mind the aroma of a freshly brewed cup of black coffee, enhancing the overall experience.

Final Third Smoking Experience

  • Notes: Cinnamon, Toasted Marshmellow, Brown Sugar

As the Guardrail reaches its final third, a delightful transformation occurs in its flavor palette. Cinnamon emerges as the dominant note, intermingling with subtle hints of toasted marshmallows and hay on the retrohale.

Kristoff Guardraild Maduro Cigar Final Third

Initially, I had braced myself for an intense, overpowering experience typical of many Dominican cigars, especially those with chocolatey profiles. However, the Guardrail pleasantly surprised me.

It’s beautifully balanced, offering a clean and satisfying finish that doesn’t linger excessively, a welcome departure from other Dominican cigars whose flavors somewhat overstay their welcome.

Overall Burn

  • Ash Backbone: Bumpy, Solid
  • Burn Angle: Straight
  • Temperature: Warm
  • Draw: Snug
  • Final Smoking Time: 90 Minutes

The overall burn of the cigar exhibits its impressive quality. The ash backbone is bumpy yet solid, while the burn angle remained straight throughout the session.

Burnline Of Kristoff Guardrail Cigar

The burn temperature stayed consistently warm, further enhancing the comfort of the session. Lastly, the draw, while snug, did not detract from my thorough enjoyment of the Kristoff Guardrail.

Shop The Kristoff Guardrail

Overall Experience

The packaging of this cigar is striking, featuring an elegant combination of black and metallic silver with a pebbly, worn finish that gives it a distinguished appearance. The band is exquisitely designed, showcasing motorcycle handlebars inscribed beneath Glen Case’s name, adding a unique touch.

Kristoff Guardrail Black Painted Cigar Box

What’s particularly captivating are the very faint angel wings, printed in black ink against the charcoal grey band. This subtle yet beautiful detail adds an element of sophistication to the overall presentation.

The Robustos I smoked came in a box of 20, which itself is painted black on the outside and possesses a matching label on the top. This box can be purchased from CigarPage for about $170 right now, which makes each cigar about $8.50.

From my experience, this provides excellent value, not just because I quite enjoy the taste profile, but also because it allows one to get a sense for both Brazilian Maduro (wrapper) and Zimbabwe tobaccos which are not often encountered in the cigar world (or at least I haven’t come across them before.

Pairing Recommendations With A Kristoff Guardrail

I discovered that the Guardrail cigar pairs exceptionally well with dark rum, especially the rich flavors of Pampero rum hailing from Venezuela. Indeed, the subtly sweet notes of this rum enhance the smoking experience beautifully.

Kristoff Guardrail Cigar Review

Closing Thoughts

The Kristoff Guardrail has quickly become one of my new favorites.

While the weather remains friendly here in Portland, I try to enjoy it as much as possible. Accordingly, I seek out cigars that will enhance outdoor activities.Kristoff Guardrail Cigar Review

Along that vein, I can easily imagine enjoying the Kristoff Guardrail at a campsite, ideally after a hearty dinner cooked over an open fire, complemented by the sweet treat of s’mores. It seems like the perfect setting to appreciate the Guardrail’s nuances fully.

Furthermore, the Guardrail is an excellent choice for friends curious about cigars and ready to transition from milder options. It offers a smooth introduction to more complex flavors without being overwhelming. On a personal note, I’m particularly keen to try the Churchill vitola next – it’s definitely on my list for future purchases.

Shop The Kristoff Guardrail
"The Guardrail is a journey through rich, balanced flavors, perfect for both seasoned enthusiasts and those exploring beyond mild cigars, especially when paired with a dark rum by a campfire."
Bespoke Unit Rating: ★★★★★

Further Reading

If you enjoyed reading this cigar review, feel free to check out more related content:

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