Cigar Ratings & Reviews

#nowsmoking: Southern Draw Manzanita Toro

#nowsmoking: Southern Draw Manzanita Toro Cigar Review

Southern Draw Manzanita Cigar Review – Toro

Factory: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez – Estelí, Nicaragua
Size: 6” x 52
Strength: Medium- Plus
Wrapper: Habano Hybrid (undisclosed)
Binder: Habano (undisclosed)
Filler: Pelo d’Oro, Corojo 99, Ligero (undisclosed)

Available in boxes of 10 and singles

“We have long desired to share the history of traditional tobacco and its spiritual importance and then we had an epiphany while working on names for our new cigar release,” says Southern Draw Cigars co-founder, Robert Holt, about the Manzanita selection. “[W]hen we saw this leaf, its deep red color, observed the texture, rolled the tabaquiados and smoked them together, there was a unanimous endorsement that Manzanita (meaning “little apple” in Spanish, describing the tiny, apple-like fruit) was perfect. This name and our research go back to 2013, awaiting the right moment to tell its story.”

A central theme of the story pays tribute to Native American culture with respect to their use of “tobaccos and other plant mixtures” in “a humble effort to share the legacy of Traditional Tobacco.”

#nowsmoking Southern Draw Manzanita Toro cigar review by Gary Korb
#nowsmoking @famoussmokeshop: The Southern Draw Manzanita Toro offers a smooth, full-flavored smoke teeming with flavors of earth, leather, wood, and tart fruit, underscored with sweet and peppery spices on a long, savory finish.

According to the company press release, “each tobacco involved in the blend brought an undisclosed origin during blending, which included varieties of Pelo d’Oro, Corojo 99, Habano and the compulsory, ligero.” As a result, Southern Draw decided to keep the countries and farms of origin undisclosed so cigar smokers could experience the cigar without any preconceived notions.

Most essential to the blend’s success was the uniqueness of the cultivation, and especially the aging and fermentation processes that give Manzanita its singular flavor profile and body. That may sound pretty de rigueur for most cigars, but the specifics on how the tobaccos were processed will remain solely with Robert and AJ.

“The instant I smoked these tobaccos individually was amazingly satisfying but, the most gratifying aspect of this brand is that it’s not just one story, it’s a series of stories,” says Sharon Holt of Southern Draw. And in Southern Draw’s ongoing tradition of contributing to worthy causes, Sharon adds: “We will be able to share the sacred spiritual and cultural uses of Traditional Tobacco and support First Nations Development Institute, a remarkable Native American charity.”

Southern Draw Manzanita will be a regular production blend. Only the Toro was available at press time, but Robusto and Gordo vitolas are expected to arrive shortly.

The hybrid Habano wrapper is spectacular. Gorgeously imbued with a brick red patina – some pictures don’t do it justice – the leaf is oily and silky to the touch with a few negligible veins. Beautifully applied triple cap. The draw is excellent with a prelight flavor on the order of fig, leather, and fruit. The tobaccos are well packed, and the cigar has a very solid feel in the hand. I was a little surprised that Manzanita was not box-pressed like many other Southern Draw cigars, but I’m curious as to whether Robert and AJ tried it.

(Acts I-III are the tasting notes I recorded while smoking my sample prior to doing the video.)

First few puffs were earthy and spicy with some sweetness and a peppery finish. Rounds out fairly quickly to a medium-body smoke with pepper lingering on a long finish. The cigar continues to sweeten with a fruit–like taste. Smoke flows effortlessly from foot to head. Still a hint of pepper on the finish but much milder. Ash is dark grey and pretty firm.

This cigar puts out a ton of copious smoke, and I would suggest that it is smoked slowly so that you get the most out of it. This is a very rich tasting cigar. As it gets further into the first third the smoke is very well balanced, mostly with flavors of earth, leather, some woody notes of tart fruit, and both sweet and peppery spices. (I think this cigar was made for bourbon.)

Not much different from Act I, but once this cigar settles down it just rolls along so nicely. There’s a perfect balance between sweetness and spice that I’m really enjoying. Still sort of earthy and woody with that nice tart sweetness coming through and more like light white pepper on the finish. There’s very little other pepper at this point, and the body is toying with medium-plus, while the strength remains more on the medium path. The ashes are holding on a bit longer, too. The retrohale was actually pretty smooth with a remnant of white pepper.

The cigar finally pulls ahead in both body and strength moving into the med-plus zone, while the core flavors remain pretty much intact. It seems like the flavors have just sort of locked in during the mid-section and traded places at the whim of the blend. I’m impressed with the flavor profile and the consistency of this cigar, too. It burned perfectly all the way through; all in all, just an amazing smoke.

Being a very full cigar, Manzanita pairs well with full-tasting Ryes and Bourbons. For this Toro, the award-winning, 100-proof, Whistle Pig 10 Year Rye Whiskey, or 15 Year were suggested. According to Whistle Pig’s website, “Our whiskey is nothing if not bold.” Here are the tasting notes for the 10 Year shown in the video:

NOSE: Allspice, orange peel, anise, oak, char and caramel

PALATE: Sweet; hints of caramel and vanilla, followed by rye­spice and mint

FINISH: Long finish; warm butterscotch and caramel.

(Find more cigar and drink pairing combinations here.)

In a brief conversation I had with Robert, he suggested that when smoking the Manzanita, if you put everything else aside and fully focus on all the elements – the body, flavors, balance, aroma, etc., “it will leave a lasting impression.” That’s what I got out of it, and why I’m recommending it so highly. Sure, it would be nice to know the sources of origin for the tobaccos, but this cigar is just so packed with a fullness of flavor I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. Manzanita is certainly best suited for experienced smokers who can appreciate the complexities of this cigar. And due to the quality of the tobaccos carries a higher price point, which I found perfectly justified. All that said, I’m sure cigar smokers with even a fair amount of experience will take well to this blend.

Manzanita is not mild, full, or medium, but all three in one. And as I pointed out in the video, depending on how you smoke it, you can experience all three at various stages. That’s for you to discover.

As I said in the video, I found this Toro to be “a perfect cigar.” I also predict that the Southern Draw Manzanita, if not the Toro, but one of the others releasing soon, will get at least a 90+ rating and make the Top-25 Cigars of 2021. You read it here first.


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