Friday, June 21, 2024

Exclusive Interview with Kristoff’s Founder Glen Case

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In this exclusive interview, Enthusiast Report Magazine’s CEO and Publisher, Lincoln Salazar, sits down with Glen Case, the owner of Kristoff Cigars. They delve into the heartwarming story behind one of Kristoff’s newer releases, Tres Compadres, a cigar created in memory of Glen’s closest friends and mentor. Glen shares the personal significance of this project, the thoughtful blending process, and the new direction Kristoff Cigars is taking with its packaging. Join us as we explore the bond of friendship and craftsmanship that makes Tres Compadres a special addition to the Kristoff line.

Lincoln Salazar (LS): Glen, you have a newer brand line called Tres Compadres. The name suggests a sense of camaraderie or friendship. Can you please share the sentimental story behind the creation of Tres Compadres and the significance of its name?

Glen Case (GC): Sure, absolutely. This was a very special project for me. Back in October of 2021, my closest friend since high school, Chuck Finch, passed away suddenly. Four months later, Rolando, who was my mentor and taught me everything about tobacco, processing, and blending, also passed away suddenly. Over the years, Rolando and Chuck became friends through me. We always called ourselves the Three Amigos, but that name was trademarked, so we went with Tres Compadres. We launched it at the PCA show in July of last year, and it was very well received. The coins on the cigar band, the box label, and the wrap contain each of our initials. The bottom of the band has the nicknames we called each other, and on the backside of the band is a little homage to Rolando and Chuck. It’s a very special project for me.

LS: How does the theme of friendship or camaraderie manifest within the smoking experience of Tres Compadres? Are there any particular characteristics of the blend that evoke this sense of companionship?

GC: That’s a tough one. It’s kind of abstract, but I blended the cigar based on what I knew Chuck and Rolando liked. It’s a Nicaraguan Puro, but not the typical big pepper and spice you might expect from Nicaraguan tobacco. That wasn’t their palate, nor is it necessarily mine. So, I made it creamy with light notes of spice, toasted almond, and a sweet cedar note. When we finalized the blend, I knew Chuck and Rolando would love it. The blend is more about what they would enjoy rather than tying specific flavor notes to the idea of friendship.

LS: Would you say it’s medium, medium to full-bodied?

GC: It’s spot on medium.

LS: You spoke a little bit about the packaging. How long did the cigar take to make, and can you tell us about the blending process that went into it?

GC: We started this project close to a year and a half, if not two years ago. Once the blend was finalized, we went immediately into production to allow time for aging. Then we focused on designing the packaging to communicate our vision to the cigar community. The packaging represents the direction we’re heading as a company—a more elegant, traditional look compared to the rustic elegance of our core line with rough-cut cedar boxes and loose tobacco. That’s all going away eventually.

LS: I’ve noticed the change in packaging with Kristoff. Are you moving from a rustic look to a more luxury lifestyle look? Because  the cigars have had amazing ratings over the years, and obviously, the blends are fantastic. But as the packaging changed, and the reason for your packaging, is this to more modernize or do you see a direction of the cigar industry actually going this way?

GC: Yes, we’re adopting a more luxury look and feel. The cigars themselves haven’t changed and won’t change, but it’s time to elevate the brand to something more elegant and high-end. The rough-cut cedar boxes and loose tobacco had their purpose and gave us a different look, but now it’s time to move towards a more sophisticated presentation.

LS: Looking ahead, do you envision the Tres Compadres becoming a staple within the Kristoff Cigars line? Is it going to be a limited release, a national release, or something you’ll produce every year? Will you be offering different sizes and lines?

GC: It’s absolutely part of our core line. It’s not a short run; it will be in ongoing production. We might come up with unique sizes down the road, but it’s definitely going to be a standard core offering.

LS: What sizes do you currently have in Tres Compadres?

GC: We currently offer the traditional Robusto, Toro, and 6×60.

LS: You also had some other releases at PCA, correct?

GC: That’s correct.

LS: Can you tell us a bit about those?

GC: Absolutely. At last year’s show in July, we introduced the Nicaragua, a Nicaraguan Puro with a bit more body and spice than Tres Compadres. It’s a fantastic cigar, though not overpowering in terms of strength and spice. This year, we launched a couple of new things to mark our 20th anniversary. We introduced the Vente, a delicious, decadent cigar with a beautiful Brazilian Maduro wrapper. The packaging is outstanding. We also did a PCA exclusive—a box-press Toro in the Pistoff Kristoff blend. It smokes phenomenally and has the same elevated, elegant packaging that’s different from the current Pistoff Kristoff packaging.

LS: Fantastic. As we wrap up, is there anything else you want to add about the Tres Compadres cigar and the story behind it?

GC: I think we’ve covered it, but I want to emphasize keeping the story of Rolando and Chuck alive. The packaging includes a QR code that brings you to a landing page on our website. It tells the story of our relationship and includes a picture of the three of us. It’s an homage to them. At events, our sales reps and I always share this story. It’s very important to me to keep their memory alive.

LS: Is there a picture of them on your website from Tres Compadres?

GC: Yes, if you go to Kristoff.com and click on Tres Compadres under the products tab, you’ll see a picture of the three of us, along with product shots and the background of our close friendship.

LS: Wonderful. To end on a personal note, can you share a quick story about them that comes to mind when you enjoy a Tres Compadres cigar?

GC: There’s a lot of stories, you know, over the years. The three of us were very much alike and appreciated each other’s company, personalities, and sense of humor. There’s no one particular story, just the memory of countless laughs and great times, which are dearly missed.

LS: Fantastic. Well thank you very much for your time Glen, it was a pleasure speaking with you.

GC: Thank you. You as well, Lincoln

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Lincoln Salazar
Lincoln Salazar
Lincoln Salazar is the CEO/Publisher of Enthusiast Report. With over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry, Salazar presents Enthusiast Report which is a broader, modern vision of luxury and lifestyle.

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