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Lounge Presidente
Lounge Presidente

Staff Review: Southern Draw Manzanita Lancero



This week, I’ll be reviewing the new Southern Draw La Manzanita Lancero – a very exciting release for us here on the Cigora team. Southern Draw has long been a favorite brand of mine, and the original release of the Manzanita was a huge success. So of course, when offered the chance to help premiere the Lancero size, I immediately said yes.

The Quick Hits:

  • A first-to-market exclusive for Cigora
  • Will eventually release as regular production to the full market
  • The fourth size of the Manzanita (originally offered in Robusto, Toro, and Gordo)
  • One of my personal favorite cigars from Southern Draw
  • Notes of earthiness, herbal sweetness, tea
  • For fans of: Herrera Esteli Miami, Tatuaje Havana VI, Illusione ~hl~

The Story:

Let’s talk briefly about Southern Draw and their background. The company was founded in 2015 by Robert and Sharon Holt. But the work for the brand began long before this. For years, Robert smoked cigars, learned about tobacco, studied, and most importantly, planned. Southern Draw hit the market with a multi-year plan of new releases and growth, and it shows. Each cigar they’ve put out has been a certified hit.

Manzanita is the beginning of the “next wave” of Southern Draw after their initial five core lines. While the Rose of Sharon, Jacob’s Ladder, Cedrus, Firethorn, and Kudzu have a distinct look as a family, Manzanita stands out. There’s a new box style here, and the cigars are slightly more expensive than the standard Southern Draw.

The La Manzanita name comes from the color of the leaf – a deep red, which nods to the translation: “the little apple.” Additionally, the cigars have a charitable aspect to them with proceeds of Manzanita sales donated to the First Nations Development Institute.

Originally, Manzanita was offered in a Robusto and Toro format. The Gordo came quickly after, and now we’re looking at a first-to-market release of the new 7.5”x40 Lancero. For the initial run, Cigora will be the sole place to find this size.

The Build:

Lanceros are tough. The skinnier vitola is great way to highlight the flavor of the wrapper, but can cause some burn issues with the lack of filler tobaccos. For Southern Draw’s lanceros they go slightly thicker than average with a 40-ring. Beyond that, the blend features a Habano wrapper leaf overtop Nicaraguan binder and filler.

The Look:


This cigar looks incredible. Let’s start with the box. Each Manzanita is packed in a 10-count box in a single row. The boxes are black and high gloss, with the Southern Draw logo printed on the top and the Manzanita name underneath. The boxes have a slight piece of wood underneath painted red that allow them to sit slightly raised on the shelf. The lid is simple – no hinge or anything, it just lifts off. I could see people hanging on to this lid and displaying it with their cigar collection once their done with the box.

The cigars themselves have two bands with a red, silver, and black color scheme. The primary band is a rich, deep red with the logo embossed in silver. The secondary band features the Manzanita name. It’s a presentation style that Southern Draw uses on many of their cigars – but it works.

The red bands help to pull the reddish hue out of the wrapper leaf as well. Each Manzanita I’ve smoked has featured a thick, oily leaf up top. Before you light up a Manzanita, really take a minute and examine it. I’ve smoked a ton of cigars in my day, and there aren’t many that feature a wrapper leaf like this.

The Experience:

Let’s talk a little bit about Lanceros before we get into the flavor. In short, Lanceros are a weird size. If you talk to people “in the know” on cigars, they’ll tell you how much they love sizes like a Lancero or a Corona because of the skinnier ring gauge. The idea here is that the skinny cigars have less filler, so you get more of the “pure” taste of the wrapper.

However, these smaller, skinnier sizes never really light up the sales charts. There are certainly cigars that do well in these sizes – but compared to their fatter brethren, the Robustos and Toros of the world, they underwhelm. Many cigar manufacturers release a Lancero version of cigars because their fans demand them, only to discontinue them a few years later after lackluster sales.

Southern Draw bucks this trend. Each of their core blends (as well as the Manzanita) is offered in a 7.5”x40 Lancero, and the cigars do very well across the board. I don’t know what Robert Holt does differently, but the man knows how to make a Lancero.

The cigar itself performs like a champ. I’d encourage you to smoke this one a little bit on the slow side to really appreciate it. You’ll find a well balanced flavor with nice herbal notes overtop earthy flavors and a natural sweetness. It almost reminds me of a tea: there’s a “softness” to the spice that melds together very nicely, and the cigar as a whole is just relaxing to smoke. There’s no harshness, no black pepper hits, no spikes of intensity. For all 7.5” of this cigar, you’ll just find a smooth ride. In terms of body, Manzanita is right around medium to full – a perfect choice for any time of day.

The Value:

The Manzanita Lancero at around $15 is one of the pricier options from Southern Draw. Let’s compare them to some other boutique offerings — the Tabernacle Lancero is around $14 MSRP. So is the Aganorsa Leaf Aniversario and the Herrera Esteli Miami. It seems to me that $14 - $15 is around the going rate for Lanceros of this quality, and I’ll remind you that the Manzanita is slightly larger than the rest of those options.

Final Thoughts:

I’ll make this part easy: the Manzanita Lancero is one of the best cigars I’ve smoked from Southern Draw. I highly recommend this for any fan of high-quality Lanceros, or the types of cigars that Robert Holt blends. As soon as these become regularly available, they’ll be a mainstay in my humidor. In my opinion, you’d be doing yourself a disservice to pass this cigar up.

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