On March 24, New Hampshire-based retailer Tobacco Haven announced an exclusive release for the store. Named Leroy VS Dark Master, it’s a collaboration between Edgar Hoill’s EH Cigars and Christian Eiroa of CLE. Each created separate blends which are in packaged in coffins of two, five coffins in each box. The art on the heavily designed boxes is designed by Edgar Hoill and also features artwork by the tattoo artist ESPI.

Leroy VS Dark Master Box 2

Leroy VS Dark Master Box 3Leroy VS Dark Master Box Bottom

 

Leroy VS Dark Master Box 4

Leroy VS Dark Master Box 5

Leroy VS Dark Master Box 6

For his cigar, Hoill chose an exclusive 5 1/2 x 50 vitola in the OSOK blend named Leroy. Meanwhile, Eiroa crated a completely new blend in the form of a 5 x 54 shaggy foot. Each box has an MSRP of $119.99 with each coffin retailing for $24.99. Hoill attended the launch event on April 25 at Tobacco Haven, which also featured an installation of some of his personal photography art.

Leroy VS Dark Master Coffin 1

Leroy VS Dark Master Coffin 2

The Tobacco Haven blog has some more information about the release:

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.

In addition, the following text is being used to describe the project:

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…

CLE Dark Master 1

  • Cigar Reviewed: CLE Dark Master
  • Country of Origin: Nicaragua
  • Factory: n/a
  • Wrapper: Habano
  • Binder: Nicaraguan Esteli
  • Filler: Nicaraguan Jalapa
  • Size: 5 Inches
  • Ring Gauge: 54
  • Vitola: Torpedo
  • MSRP: $12.50 (Boxes of 10, $119.99)
  • Date Released: April 25, 2014
  • Number of Cigars Released: 350 Boxes of 5 (1,750 Total Cigars)
  • Number of Cigars Smoked for Review: 3

The Dark Master is quite rustic looking, especially when you throw in the fact that it comes sans band and with a brushed foot. The dark chocolate brown wrapper is silky smooth to the touch and slick with oil, although there are plenty of veins noticeable. Resistance when squeezed is excellent with just the right amount of give, and it actually feels a bit heavy for a cigar this size. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of very strong barnyard, dark fruit sweetness, oak and some black pepper.

The Dark Master starts off with fairly generic flavors of oak, leather, earth and black pepper until the burn hits the wrapper, when the profile expands with some other flavors of sweet nutmeg, dark chocolate, espresso and slight anise. The fruity sweetness has carried over from the scent of the wrapper, and reminds me strongly of cherries, and there is some very nicely integrated black pepper on the retrohale that stays at a pretty consistent level throughout the first third. Construction-wise, the draw is wonderful, and while the burn is noticeably wavy, that is not usual when you are talking about a brushed foot on a cigar. The overall strength is fairly mild ending the first third just below the medium mark, and does not seem to be going anywhere fast.

CLE Dark Master 2

There is an interesting metallic note on the finish starting around the start of the second third of the Dark Master, although it is more of a compliment than a detriment at this point in the profile. The cherry sweetness from the first third has decreased as well, although it is still noticeable. The dominant flavor is a creamy oak interspersed with dark chocolate, earth, leather and coffee, along with more black pepper and that same slight anise note on the retrohale. The draw continues to impress, and while the burn has evened up a bit, it is still a bit wavy at points. The smoke production has increased in an obvious way, and while the strength has increased as well, it is still seemingly stuck at a solid medium by the end of the second third.

CLE Dark Master 3

The final third of the Dark Master sees a return of the cherry sweetness to levels seen at the beginning of the smoke, along with a sizable decrease in the metallic note on the finish. The other flavors in the profile remain fairly consistent with the second third: leather, creamy oak, espresso, dark chocolate and earth. The anise note from the first two thirds is long gone, but the black pepper on the retrohale stays constant until the end of the cigar. The draw is still wonderful, and the burn actually continues to get better and better as it burns down. Strength-wise, the Dark Master breaks past the medium mark, but just barely, and really never threatened the full mark at any point during the smoke.

CLE Dark Master 4

 

Final Notes

  • Eiroa’s CLE Cigars/Fabricas Unidas is the distributor for Edgar Hoill’s EH Cigars.
  • Considering the name of this cigar is Dark Master, I really expected the wrapper to be darker.
  • The idea of a brushed or shaggy foot — i.e. when the wrapper is cut off of the end of the cigar, allowing the filler to be exposed — is nothing new, having been utilized by Viaje, RoMo Craft Tobac and Tatuaje, among others. Having said that, the samples of The Dark Master I smoked and photographed were particularly well done, with razor straight cuts.
  • Along with the above, it is very interesting to be able to taste the filler straight before the burn hits the wrapper, as it is usually a signifiant difference in flavor profiles.
  • There is no doubt the packaging for this release is extremely interesting, and perhaps even inspired. The effort that has been put into showing the dichotomy between the different extremes — i.e. smooth vs. rough, black vs. white, etc. — is refreshing, as is Hoill’s insistence in overseeing almost every aspect of the release, even to the point of taking the press photographs of the boxes and cigars himself.
  • Of course, the ever present cynic in me wonders how much the packaging adds to the cost of each cigar, and how much they would be without it.
  • While not exactly the same idea, Christian Eiroa was involved with another duel release called Face Off back in 2003 with Litto Gomez of La Flor Dominicana, where they both blended a different cigar using tobacco from each other’s factory.
  • Having said the above, I am not as sure about the background story outlined in the quote above, as it sort of sounds like the set up to a B-Grade comic book series. It does make me wonder if there will be other releases in this series in the future, perhaps with each different character/cigar adding to the backstory in a significant way.
  • Tobacco Haven is no stranger to single store releases, and was also the exclusive retailer for the La Flor Dominicana Meaner Digger back in 2012.
  • The cigars photographed and smoked for this review were sent to halfwheel by CLE Cigars.
  • The final smoking time for all three samples of the Dark Master averaged one hour and 40 minutes.
  • If you would like to purchase any of the Leroy VS. Dark Master, they are still available at Tobacco Haven.

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Rules are here. Contest ends May 23, 2014.

89 Overall Score

Profile-wise, the Dark Master is quite enjoyable—albeit not extremely complex—with an intermittent cherry sweetness that is fairly strong at certain points. Construction was excellent overall, although one of the samples did need to be touched up more than the other two I smoked. There is no doubt the Dark Master is quite expensive, but as a limited edition smoke that includes some amazing original artwork on the boxes, I think they hit their mark quite well.

Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.