Southern Draw is celebrating the origins of tobacco as well as the anniversary of the company’s co-founders this weekend with the launch of its newest line, Manzanita.

Details about the tobaccos in the blend are somewhat limited, as the countries of origin aren’t being disclosed, while the varietals are. The wrapper is a habano hybrid leaf, the binder is a habano leaf, and the filler contains pelo de oro, corojo 99, and ligero, according to a press release. It is made at Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A., and will be offered in a x 6 x 52 toro vitola for the launch, while a robusto and gordo are slated to be added in 2021. Manzanita is a regular production line, though the company is forecasting annual production for 2021 to be a total of 180,000 cigars, divided evenly among the three sizes.

The cigar got its name, which means little apple, while Abdel Fernandez, Robert Holt and Sharon Holt, along with members of their respective teams, were inspecting bales of the habano hybrid leaves that would be used for the wrapper and noticed how they had an oily, deep red color, reminiscent of the red bark of a manzanita tree.

“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,” said Robert Holt in a press release. “Some nostalgic names were thrown around, but, when 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.”

In order to move forward with the name, the Holts consulted with Robert Caldwell of Caldwell Cigars, who offers a 4 x 42 petit corona vitola called Manzanita in his The King is Dead Line. He agreed, and the line was on its way to fruition.

According to a press release, the name has connections to tobacco, as manzanita has been used by native populations as a tobacco substitute or additive to wild tobaccos, as well as for food and medicinal purposes for millennia. The bands incorporate “a respectful interpretation of native art,” while the color scheme is a tribute to Cortney L. Taylor, a longtime financial consultant and friend to Southern Draw, and in particular a nod to Taylor’s “cherished university and athletic program.”

The company has also announced a charitable component to the release of Manzanita, as some of the proceeds from the Manzanita will go to the First Nations Development Institute, an organization endeavored to ensure the sustainable, economic, spiritual, and cultural well-being of their communities. Southern Draw has chosen for its contributions to go toward the Nourishing Native Foods & Health initiative, and the company expects to raise a total of $30,000 for the charity in 2021, with hopes to exceed that number at the end of the program.

“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,” said Sharon Holt. “We will be able to share the sacred spiritual and cultural uses of traditional tobacco and support a remarkable Native American charity while we publicly thank Cortney for his 20 years of professional dedication to our ventures and for his friendship.”

The Southern Draw Manzanita is being released on Saturday, Dec. 19 via 10 retailers across the country, each of which are receiving 100 boxes:

  • F&M Cigars (Phenix City, Ala.)
  • Burn Premium Cigar Specialists (Burnsville, Minn.)
  • Famous Smoke Shop (Easton, Pa.)
  • Ambassador Fine Cigars (Phoenix, Ariz.)
  • Atlantic Cigar Company (Folcroft, Pa.)
  • Casa de Montecristo (Multiple locations)
  • Heff’s Place (Mishawaka, Ind.)
  • Skallywag Cigars (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
  • Davidus Cigars (Multiple locations)
  • Cigars International (Multiple locations)

Pricing is set at $14.99 per cigar and $149.99 for a 10-count box, both before taxes.

Images courtesy of Southern Draw Cigars.

Patrick Lagreid

I strive to capture the essence of a cigar and the people behind them in my work – every cigar you light up is the culmination of the work of countless people and often represents generations of struggle and stories. For me, it’s about so much more than the cigar – it’s about the story behind it, the experience of enjoying the work of artisans and the way that a good cigar can bring people together. In addition to my work with halfwheel, I’m the public address announcer for the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks during spring training, as well as for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury and the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League. I also work in a number of roles for, plus I'm a voice over artist. I previously covered the Phoenix and national cigar scene for, and was an editor for Cigar Snob magazine.