Noted cigar roller Maria Sierra has passed away at the age of 70, according to a statement from El Titan de Bronze, the Miami factory where she spent several years creating countless cigars.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday afternoon, El Titan de Bronze said:
We at El Titan de Bronze are saddened to hear of the passing of our dear Maria Sierra. Maria was legendary, showcasing her incredible skills and talent throughout her distinguished career, both in Cuba and here with us. Cigar enthusiasts from all over the world came to see her work her craft for the exclusive Goldie series for La Palina Cigars. We were blessed to have called her one of our own. We at El Titan will miss her incredibly her legend will live on forever. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family. #legend #cigarfamily
Sierra was most closely associated with the La Palina Goldie line, a highly regarded collection of cigars that the personally rolled from its inception in 2012 until handing off the cigar’s production to Lopez “Chino” Perez as part of her retirement in 2017. However, she is also known for the wealth of experience she brought to El Titan de Bronze in 2011 after spending decades working in the Cuban cigar industry.
She began her career in Cuba in 1967 and is regarded as one of the first women trained to roll cigars in Cuba, her training coming from Avelino Lara, who is often credited with creating the Cohiba blend, and Eduardo Rivera Irizarri, who was Fidel Castro’s personal cigar roller. She is considered to be a category nine roller, which means she can roll any cigar in the Habanos S.A. portfolio. In recent years, category nine has not been offered for new rollers.
Numerous members of the cigar community and industry have been posting their condolences on the company’s Facebook page, as well as issuing their own statements on her passing.
“Maria was an icon of the cigar world,” said Bill Paley, La Palina’s owner, in a statement to halfwheel. “Her passing had great impact on us, as her passion and professionalism was emblematic of La Palina’s core values. Her humble and sweet disposition brightened us all. Maria singlehandedly rolled the ‘Goldie’ cigar for us, identified by a “fantail’ cap she developed while working at the El Laguito factory in Cuba. A true Grand Master.”
Shortly after this story was published, Willy Herrera of Drew Estate had this to say about Sierra:
“Yesterday we lost a true legend in the cigar world. Maria Sierra worked most of her adult life at El Laguito in Havana, Cuba. She was one of the first group of women allowed to make cigars in Cuba. I had the honor to work with her after she arrived to the United States and began working at El Titan de Bronze Cigar Factory. One of the last projects I worked on with her before joining Drew Estate was the Goldie for La Palina. She was a wealth of knowledge to me and all that would come visit the factory. Her smile and good spirit was intoxicating. She will be truly missed!”
Herrera spent much of the early part of his cigar making career at El Titan de Bronze, as his mother-in-law, Sandy Cobas, owns the factory. Prior to joining Drew Estate, Herrera oversaw and directed the daily operations and production at the factory and worked directly with Sierra. In 2016, Herrera produced a version of his Herrera Estelí line that was made at El Titan de Bronze.
Image via El Titan de Bronze on Facebook.