Kristoff "Sumatra Matador" Review: Chai Tea & Chewy Cuban Seed

While many are quick to praise the boutique brands that emerged unscathed when the whole American cigar boom went belly-up, few acknowledge those that came immediately thereafter. 

Take Kristoff Cigars for example.

Founded in 2004 by a former banker by the name of Glen Case, this small stogie operation has been a staple of the cigar market ever since it first rolled out its Criollo blend back in 2005.

Flash forward damn near two decades, and Glen Case has crafted quite the plush portfolio. One of which is the Kristoff Sumatra "Matador" vitola. A cigar that (you guessed it) is a Sumatran leaf-wrapped smoke that boasts a Brazilian binder and all Cuban seed filler within.

Sounds rather tantalizing, doesn't it...

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Kristoff Sumatra Matador

Unlit Impressions

Closed foot, pigtail cap, signature Sumatran veins, tanned leathery feels, herbal exotic tea aromas, and suppleness all describe the Kristoff Sumatra quite accurately. 

Being that the variant I had on hand that particular day was the "Matador" version, I found myself committing to a rather large 6.5" long, by 56-ring gauge commitment. 

But where the Matador vitola of this particular cigar blend looks and feels rather large, its weight is not nearly as hefty. Perhaps it was the softer bunch or the forgiving binder. Either way, this big guy didn't feel as hefty as he appeared.

Kristoff Sumatra

Initial Smoke

As with many cigars, the first half inch of this stick was a bit full-flavored and strong-armed. It's a bit of a leathery, spicy start, that makes me think of the sensation I get mid-barrel on a rich corojo.

Getting the closed foot to fire evenly also proved to be a bit much, with not one, but two cedar spills being consumed in the ignition process.   

Kristoff Sumatra

1st Half

However, once that first nub of the foot turned to ash, flavors (and aromas) all turned toward those exotic herbal spices and earth clay-like tones we've come to love in Sumatran tobacco leaf. 

The first half of the Kristoff Sumatra further offers hardwood and spiced tea tastes. It's a smoke-filled start that sets the stage for a straightforward, medium-strength experience that does not stray too far from the path that's been paved.

Kristoff Sumatra

2nd Half

At some point, right near the mid-section of the cigar, that Brazilian binder comes to life. A mellow, yet notably dark tone, that fills your senses with whiffs of milky tree nuts and marshmallow, along with rich earth and cocoa nibs. 

Unfortunately, this phase of the cigar fades after another inch or so of combustion, returning the smoker to the familiar Sumatran flavors from earlier. 

There is more of an Earl Grey tea flavor at this point, along with a cooling sensation that is best described as the feeling one gets from mint. Is it a bit unexpected? Yes. Displeasing? Quite the opposite actually. Refreshing would be the best way to describe it.


Kristoff Sumatra

Parting Puffs 

An enticing final third awaits any who can make it down the length of the Matador's sizable barrel. Nutty, pleasantly spiced, and packed with chewy characteristics, this is where the cigar flavor wheel gets taken for a spin. 

It's still very much a medium cigar all the way up until you put Kristoff's Sumatra down. A cigar that is neither mild nor wild. Just a dedicated blend that epitomizes middle-of-the-road smoking.

Kristoff Sumatra

Ash / Burn / Smoke / Draw

Thanks to its loosely filled and bound innards, the Kristoff Sumatra pulled plenty of smoke from a draw that bordered on being almost too loose for my personal taste.

Furthermore, the ash of the cigar was prone to flaking, and I had to touch up the cigar at every key point down the barrel save for parting puffs. Further inspection showed an uneven bunch, resulting in the filler being forced to one side of the binder, thus causing an uneven burn. 

Kristoff Sumatra

Final Thoughts

But by this point, most of us are quite used to the act of routine touch-ups along the way when smoking a cigar. So I couldn't deduct too many points for that burn line. 

What did bother me though, was how the Brazilian binder's presence was muted within the first and final third of the cigar. 

If those tastes and aromas could have been a staple from the start until it came time to snuff this stick out, I would have found myself giving the Kristoff Sumatra a higher score. Still, 4.2/5 ain't bad at all, and the Matador has given me cause to look forward to smoking my next Kristoff cigar sooner than later. 

Kristoff Sumatra

Cigar Stats


Kristoff Sumatra "Matador"


Ecuador Sumatra




Nicaragua & Dominican Republic (100% Cuban Seed)


Charles Fairmorn Cigar Factory (Dominican Republic)


6.5" x 56 "Toro Gordo"



Pairing Drink

Homemade Ginger Ale w/ Pineapple Syrup



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