Collaborative projects are nothing new in the cigar world and take many forms, from two manufacturers coming together for a special release to having two manufacturers produce separate cigars for a project.
In early April, it was announced that Edgar Hoill and Christian Eiroa would be teaming up on such a project for Tobacco Haven in Brookline, N.H. that was to be called Leroy vs. Dark Master. The premise of the project is rooted in this story that has been used on the project’s marketing materials:
The city neighborhood had never really been the best but at least a few months ago the kids could go play outside without fear. Everything has changed, ever since the Dark Master and his gang of shogun street punks moved in and claimed the neighborhood as their own. When I stood up for myself, they wrecked my family’s pizzeria, when I refused to fight them, they kidnapped my girlfriend. They’ve gone too far, I promised myself I would never fight again, but some promises can’t be kept…
To bring the project to life, Hoill turned to his friend and noted tattoo artist ESPI.
Tobacco Haven shares a bit more about the release on its blog, saying that:
Everything that Edgar did he did for a reason. The black and white wrapping paper symbolizing the ying and yang symbols as well as the smooth outer boxes with the rough cut coffin boxes inside. The red ribbon inside I also learned was chosen as red symbolizes “good luck” in Japanese.
Cigar Reviewed: EH Cigars OSOK One Shot One Kill Leroy
Country of Origin: Nicaragua
Size: 5 1/2 Inches
Ring Gauge: 50
MSRP: $12.50 (Boxes of 10, $119.99)
Release Date: April 25, 2014
Number of Cigars Released: 350 Boxes of 5 Cigars (1,750 Total Cigars)
Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Once out of the coffin, the band will be the first thing that catches your eye with its silver on black type and busy yet not overly noisy design. The wrapper isn’t terribly dark and seems light in comparison to a number of cigars I’ve been smoking recently but more accurately is just darker than a medium brown. The veins are small and the seam lines visible but clean; the cap shows just a bit of wrinkling at the shoulder and the wrapper has just a bit of fine grit texture to it without much in the way of oil. It feels well packed with only a few soft spots among the three samples and no visual bumps or irregularities. The pre-light aroma has a bit of the distinctiveness that I have found in other releases from EH Cigars, sweet, fragrant, some wood notes, and almost herbal in some regards that at times have me thinking of pine needles, but still with a good amount of pepper. There is nothing to argue with about the air flow on the cold draw, with touches of graham cracker and tangy wood coming through.
The first puffs offer plenty of pepper and spice, and like almost every other Edgar Hoill release I have had is one of the most unique and distinctive types of pepper I have found in a cigar, and one that just doesn’t sit totally right with me. It’s not overpowering but leaves a slightly sour tang on the palate that trickles down the throat, though one the samples was less intense than the others and as such much more enjoyable. Through the nose the pepper is even stronger and elicits a stop order on trying to get more than a slight amount through the nasal passages. Thankfully it backs off fairly quickly in terms of outright strength, with the flavor still lingering on the tongue and leaving notes of wet rock as well as the first taste of a building dry wood note. At first glance the ash appears to be fairly tight, but it consistently breaks off shy of the one inch mark and closer looks reveal developing cracks that weaken its structural integrity. Flavors in the first third walk a pretty straight line with the distinct pepper variation leading the way and bringing some earth along behind it.
I have yet to pick up any appreciable shifts in flavor through the first half, with only the pepper seeming to back down from its earlier levels, or quite possibly just becoming more familiar as the lead note and as such not being quite as noticeable. The intensity of the pepper-driven flavor backs off a bit, retreating to a just-more-than-medium strength before returning to a more full bodied smoke. Retrohales continue to be a challenge, so much so that even a small amount of smoke makes me flinch and bail out of the attempt. The flavor makes a few subtle moves in the second third, with a touch of harshness coming into the equation that has me thinking of rocky soil, while the distinctive pepper note that I’ve come to associate Hoill’s releases with remains a central component.
The final inches bring on a bit of a charred note, leather, some dry earth and the same earlier tang but without the upfront pepper kick. The second cigar that had been the mildest of the three—though still very medium-full overall—was the most interesting of the bunch to take down to the nub, with the charred note not as prevalent and thus not as obtrusive to a finger-burning smoke. The herbal notes have sharpened up a bit as well but remain enjoyable, while the ash remains deceptive in its ability to hold on, seemingly heading for decent length before several unceremonious detachments.
- This is another case where while the large band may be good for visual recognition, it also has to come off fairly quickly. This isn’t a big thing for me since I tend to take the band off prior to lighting the cigar, and the band wasn’t overglued to the point of causing damage when removed.
- The OSOK name first appeared on cigars when Hoill was partnering with Matt Booth of Room101, which is part of the Davidoff family of brands. However, prior to the 2013 IPCPR Convention and Trade Show, Hoill parted ways with that group in favor of Christian Eiroa’s CLE/Tabacaleras Unidas. Getting the name to transfer over to some work and the relaunched brand is known as OSOK One Shot One Kill.
- Eiroa’s CLE Cigars/Fabricas Unidas distributes Hoill’s EH Cigars, in case you were wondering what the connection is.
- Hoill shot all of the press and marketing photos for this release himself, another example of how vested he became in this release.
- Brooks Whittington reviewed a prerelease sample of the original Room101 OSOK Filero in January 2012.
- Christian Eiroa paired up with Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana in 2003 for a project called Face Off, where each manufacturer used the other’s tobacco for a release.
- Speaking of Gomez, it was Tobacco Haven that was the exclusive retailer for LFD’s Meaner Digger in 2012.
- Growing up as a fan of rap in the 80s, the name Leroy made me think of a scratch in Eazy-E’s “Boyz-N-The-Hood” that references the name. That sample was also used by the Beastie Boys in “Hold It Now, Hit It.” The original comes from a 1977 track by The Jimmy Castor Bunch called “The Return of Leroy (Part I & II).”
- Hoill’s new EH Lancero is now on shelves.
- Final smoking time was just over two hours.
- The cigars for this review were provided by CLE Cigars.
- As of this writing, the Leroy vs. Dark Master release was still available from Tobacco Haven. You can also phone the store at 603.673.1178.
Rarely do I come across a cigar with such a dominant lead note that turns it into a love-it-or-hate-it cigar, yet such is the case with the EH Cigars OSOK One Shot One Kill Leroy. As soon as you smell the foot of it or any of the vitolas in the OSOK One Shot One Kill blend, you're bound to form an opinion of it and it takes only an inch or so to confirm your pre-light thoughts. For as much as I love Nicaraguan tobacco, as well as pepper and earth notes, I just can't find myself able to like this particular blend. That's not to say it is bad of course; it's the few notes of harshness and lingering pepper as well as the lack of changes and complexity that find me detracting points, and that would be the case regardless of whether or not I found this particular variety of tobacco to produce a more palatable flavor. If you have yet to try the blend, I'd suggest finding a regular production vitola at your nearest tobacconist before investing in this limited edition, unless of course you want the box and art from this project.