Bite Size Review: Southern Draw 300 Manos Habano Corona Gorda
We’re on a roll with a compendium of follow-ups to brands for which we’ve only managed a single review. We kicked things off with La Palina’s Nicaragua Oscuro and now we get to shake down another Nicaraguan beauty – and another AJ Fernandez colab – from Texas’ own, Southern Draw. Our last review acquainted us with Jacob’s Ladder, a broadleaf-wrapped fan fave that, in our opinion, came up just short of a boxworthy wow factor. Even with other members of the Southern Draw stable on our radar, we decided to review their 2018 release, the 300 Manos Habano.
The head honchos at Southern Draw are honoring the hard work of numerous Nicaraguan communities in need, focusing on many who have dedicated their lives to the artisanal culture of Nicaraguan cigar making. The name “300 hands” (Sp. tresciento manos) is a reference to the number of hands that touch every aspect of the cigar from seed to shelf. The Holts paired up with AJ Fernandez to create 2 cigars: 300 Hands Maduro and 300 Manos Habano. The best part? Up to 25% of the profits gained from the sale of the two lines provides help to make life a little easier for as many Estelì families as possible. Well, sign us up.
There’s not much humidor age (3 months) on our Corona and outside of a funky-looking cap, the cigar delights with a seamless and lightly oily, milk chocolate hue. A simple, no-frills black and white band completes the package. The whole chocolate theme continues in a treat for the nose imparting notes of milk chocolate from the Ecuadorian skin and a warm fudge brownie essence from the foot. Meanwhile, the cold draw delivers a semi-sweet tinge of apricots on the palate, but the draw could be a bit more open in my opinion.
The opening profile begins with a chocolatey draw followed by a mellow medley of cream and pie crust notes with hints of oats. The 300 Manos finishes with a warm serving of toasted almonds. Hints of marshmallow, cacao and cedar stick around for a bit as transitions up the ante in body. While not super smooth, it’s still hard to overlook the complexity in the woodier transitions which feature palettes of cedar and oak mixed with coffee and nougat notes. A light spice appears and ramps up as it transitions along with more body and strength.
The cigar maintains a good balance throughout, and combustion is spot on outside an occasional uneven burn. The corona produces a good amount of smoke despite the limited draw, which does improve a bit, but the ash will fall at the slightest provocation. I’m happy to say that lately we’ve been wowed by a number of cigars under the $8, $9 and $10 price ceiling, but the 300 Manos deserves special consideration considering it’s a paltry $6.80. Delivering this level of complexity and performance combined with registering a 9.0 on the enjoy-o-meter at this price point certainly enhances the value, but when you factor in that some of the proceeds goes to help the very communities that craft this gem, is a veritable win-win-win. – In Fumo Pax!
Did you Know: In 2018, the founders of Southern Draw Cigars launched “IGNITE Some Good,” a charitable program driven by retail and charity business partnerships and specially branded production runs to generate up to $37,500/year in an effort to provide support to organizations like Cigars for Warriors and The Navy Seal Foundation.
- Profile: Med – Full
- Vitola: Corona Gorda
- Length / Ring: 5.625″ X 46
- Purchased: Online
- Origin: Nicaragua
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder: Cameroon
- Filler: Nicaraguan, Dominican
- Production: Tabacalera AJ Fernandez Cigars de Nicaragua S.A.
- Blade: Xikar Xi1
- Fire: Colibri Firebird
- Price: $6.80 [10-pack $68]
- Humidor Age: 3 mo.
- Box: Pack of 10
- Other Vitolas: Petit Edmundo [4.75″ x 52], Coloniales [5.25″ x 44], Piramides [6.125″ x 52], Churchill [7.0″ x 48]
N O T E S
Smoke Time: 1:15
Construction: Milk chocolate sheen; lightly oily; some tooth; firm throughout except for spongy area around cap; ugly cap; seamless; veiny; holds 1″ salt/pepper ash, but prone to fall if lightly jostled; good smoke producer.
- Wrapper – Leather, milk chocolate
- Foot – Floral, fudge brownie
- Cold Draw – Apricot
- Initial: Semi-sweet, chocolatey draw; prominent core of cream and pie crust notes with hints of oats; notes of toasted almonds on the lush, savory finish; intonations of marshmallow and cacao; hints of cedar also on retro; mellow – medium body; texture has some rough edges.
- Transition: Dominant nucleus of cedar and chocolate; finish more oaky with a coffee overlay; more body thanks to an underlying earthiness; spice noticeable on tongue; wisps of nougat on retro.
- Transition: Overt, woody profile; notes of sweet oats balances strong cedar base; robust finish of charred wood; spice more prevalent; full-bodied with clear uptick in strength.
Touch ups: N/A
Weaknesses: Draw could be better; ashes at slightest movement
Recommendation: 2. Boxworthy
- 5 packer
- Yard ‘gar
- NR [No Recommendation]