The personal backgrounds of cigar brand owners are as varied as the number of cigars that they produce every year: some have been tobacco growers, some have been businessmen before starting their cigar brands, others have been in the military and various brand owners represent a wide range of careers. However, Vintage Rock-A-Feller’s owner Kevin Schweitzer may have one of the most unique background stories in the industry, as he has been a magician since he was eight-years-old and is also a member of the Society of American Magicians.
Considering his background, it was only a matter of time before one of his brand’s releases would have something to do with magic. That turned out to be the case last month when the company began shipping Art of Magic, a 6 x 52 toro whose release includes yet another interesting facet, specifically that a portion of each cigar sold will be donated to a charitable cause.
In fact, Vintage Rock-A-Feller is donating 5 percent of sales to Phuck Cancer, which was started by artist Jessi Flores in order to help pay medical expenses for his daughter, Stephanie Nicole, who has heart issues that complicate the treatment of her kidney cancer. If the name Jessi Flores rings a bell, it may be due to the fact that he worked for years at Drew Estate and its Subculture Studios, where he designed a large amount of art for the company. Flores recently became the creative director of Mombacho Cigars S.A.
Blend-wise, the Art of Magic incorporates all AGANORSA tobacco, including a Mexican San Andrés wrapper covering a binder and filler that both use Nicaraguan tobaccos, and the limited edition cigars were rolled at Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A. in Estelí, Nicaragua. The Art of Magic cigars are packaged in 10-count boxes with a total of 200 boxes produced, and each cigar carries a retail price of $20.
- Cigar Reviewed: Vintage Rock-A-Feller Limited Edition Art of Magic Toro
- Country of Origin: Nicaragua
- Factory: Tabacos Valle de Jalapa S.A.
- Wrapper: Mexico (San Andrés)
- Binder: Nicaragua
- Filler: Nicaragua
- Length: 6 Inches
- Ring Gauge: 52
- Vitola: Toro
- MSRP: $20 (Box of 10, $200)
- Release Date: March 2021
- Number of Cigars Released: 200 Boxes of 10 Cigars (2,000 Total Cigars)
- Number of Cigars Smoked For Review: 3
Covered in a very dark—almost black under some light sources—the wrapper is sandpaper rough to the touch, the Vintage Rock-A-Feller Limited Edition Art of Magic also features a large number of very noticeable veins running up and down its length. There is also some trace amounts of oil present and the cigar is just short of rock hard when squeezed. The aroma from the wrapper and foot is a combination of strong brewed sweet tea, oak, leather, barnyard, gritty earth, generic nuts and slight citrus while the cold draw brings flavors of bitter dark chocolate, peanut shells, oak, leather tack, hay, black pepper and light varnish.
As the first third of the Art of Magic Toro begins, distinct flavors of powdery cocoa nibs and dry tea leaves take the top spot in the profile, followed by secondary notes of leather, earth, hay, creamy peanuts, coffee beans and oak. There is quite a bit of both black pepper and spice—on the retrohale and on my tongue, respectively—and while the latter begins to wane almost immediately, the former shows no signs of receding anytime soon. In addition to the aforementioned black pepper, the retrohale features a soft caramel sweetness that is unfortunately just too light at this point to make much of an impact on the profile as a whole. In terms of construction, the Art of Magic is quite tight on the draw—albeit still very much smokable—and while the burn is wavy, there is no need for the lighter just yet. Smoke production is a bit higher than normal and the strength starts out at a strongish mild that quickly ramps up to a point close to medium.
The second third features a number of changes, including the main flavors which change from powdery cocoa nibs and dry tea leaves to a combination of toast and earth, followed by notes of leather, oak, espresso beans, hay, generic nuts and chocolate. In addition, while the spice on my tongue has all but dissipated, the black pepper on the retrohale has increased a bit, which in turn pushes the caramel sweetness further down the flavor ladder. Construction-wise, the draw remains a little tight, and although the smoke production remains copious, the burn has become problematic enough that it needs a couple of quick touch-ups to avoid larger issues. In terms of strength, the toro easily hits a medium just after the halfway mark and continues to climb, ending the second third just north of that point.
Unfortunately, the final third of the Vintage Rock-A-Feller is full of one very specific flavor—specifically, a gritty earth note—that easily tops the rest of the flavors in the profile, which also includes oak, toasted bread, nuts, barnyard, leather tack, tree bark and slight varnish. The retrohale also sees some changes, as the black pepper has increased again, making it more difficult to pick out the caramel sweetness, although the latter note does manage to push through and make itself known every once in a while. Thankfully, the smoke production has no problems keeping pace with the previous thirds and the burn has evened up nicely, but the draw remains tighter than I would like until the end of the cigar. Finally, the strength level manages to come very close to the full mark by the time I put the nub down with about an inch left.
- I feel like it is a missed opportunity that boxes of a cigar named “Art of Magic” released by a company owned by a man who is literally a magician does not include an insert or cover sheet with some instructions on how to do simple magic tricks printed on it.
- In my reviews on this website over the years, I have often mentioned how flavors or aromas from different cigars have brought back very specific memories from my childhood, some of which I have not thought about in decades. The aroma of brewed sweet tea that permeates the wrapper and foot of this cigar is a great example, as it immediately reminded me of the summers I would spend at my father’s homestead in Four Oaks, N.C. that my family visited from whatever country we happened to be living in at the time. My aunt Pat—who was my father’s sister—would brew homemade sweet tea that she stored in cleaned out milk jugs, each gallon of which would be made with three cups of sugar.
- After a close inspection, one of my samples had a hole in the wrapper that looked to be natural, i.e. was not caused by a cut or any outside event. I was curious if it would cause any noticeable issues when the burn line reached it, but there were no problems that I could discern.
- While, for the most part, the burn was decent across the three samples, the draw on each was tighter than I would have liked, albeit still smokable. One of the cigars was tighter than the other two resulting in noticeably longer smoking time.
- All of the 200 boxes sold were signed by Flores, who also designed the artwork for the release. Our box was number 170/200.
- Speaking of the artwork, I was a bit surprised when I heard that Flores was the artist, as his style is usually not so restrained, although there are some very obvious similarities.
- The cigars smoked for this review were purchased by halfwheel.
- Final smoking time for all three samples averaged two hours and 12 minutes, but that total was impacted by the one sample with a tighter draw.
- If you would like to purchase any of the Art of Magic Toros, site sponsor Atlantic Cigar Co. carries the line but is sold out of them at the moment.
Although it starts out in a very promising way with flavors of cocoa nibs and dry tea leaves, the Art of Magic’s profile runs into trouble starting around the halfway point when an earth note begins to take over and it is never able to recover. In addition, there are some noticeable issues with the draw being a bit tight on each of the cigars I smoked and I wish there was a bit more sweetness to counteract the significant black pepper that is present on the retrohale throughout the smoke. Having said all of that, the first third is quite good and I am willing to bet a bit of time will tame some of the more pressing issues, and look forward to seeing if that is the case.