If there are two things that La Palina’s Goldie line has been associated with since its debut in the summer of 2012, it’s high demand and the hands of Maria Sierra, the roller who created every single cigar to bear the La Palina Goldie band.
Now, the latter of those has changed as Sierra has announced her retirement from cigar rolling and La Palina has entrusted Lopez “Chino” Perez with the rolling duties of the Goldie series going forward.
Sierra’s place in the world of cigar rollers is legendary, beginning her journey in Cuba in 1967 with an apprenticeship at the famed Fabrica de Tabacos El Laguito in Havana, which was managed by Avelino Lara. The year before her arrival, El Laguito began production of the Cohiba brand, while the year after it produced the first singularly branded Davidoff of Geneva. She became a maestra torecedor, or master roller, at El Laguito, particularly known for her adeptness at thin ring gauges.
After leaving Cuba in the mid 1990s, she found a new home to continue her work, the El Titan de Bronze factory on Miami’s famed Calle Ocho. In 2012, Sierra was given a new task by the factory and La Palina: to roll every cigar in the Goldie line. It was her hands that produced the first five cigars in the Goldie collection:
- La Palina Goldie Laguito No. 2 (6 x 38) — July 2012 — $15 (Boxes of 10, $150) — 1,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (10,000 Total Cigars)
- La Palina Goldie Laguito No. 5 (5 5/8 x 54) — May 2013 — $18 (Boxes of 10, $180) — 2,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
- La Palina Goldie Laguito Especial (7 x 40) — May 2014 — $16.50 (Boxes of 10, $165) — 2,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
- La Palina Goldie Laguito Robusto Extra (6 1/10 x 50) — June 2015 — $18 (Boxes of 10, $180) — 2,000 Boxes of 10 Cigars (20,000 Total Cigars)
- La Palina Goldie Dalia (6 3/4 x 43) — June 2016 — $20 (Boxes of 10, $200) — 2,500 Boxes of 10 Cigars (25,000 Total Cigars)
Now, Sierra is retiring from making cigars.
“We wish Maria the very best in her well-earned retirement,” said Bill Paley, owner of La Palina via a press release. “She is truly a living treasure and one of the great cigar masters of all time. Her deep dedication to the art of the cigar is unequivocal, she will be profoundly missed.”
Before her departure, El Titan de Bronze and La Palina worked to identify and select Perez as the next exclusive Goldie torcedor, with Sierra training him for three years to take over the line.
Like Sierra, Perez began his rolling career in Cuba, working for 25 years at the Real Fabrica de Tabacos Partagás factory in Havana. He rose to the role of floor supervisor, a position he held for five years before emigrating to the United States in 2014. He now takes the reins of the Goldie series, with the sixth installment, a 6 x 52 toro, being made solely by him.
The new size has been trickling out to retailers since mid-July, but is now getting its full release, with just 2,500 boxes of 10 cigars being produced. Like the rest of the Goldie line, the Toro vitola is made with an Ecuadorian habano wrapper, Ecuadorian binder, and fillers from the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, including some medio tiempo leaves, smaller leaves that are found at the top of a tobacco plant above the ligero and which are known for giving the cigar its signature aroma and flavor.
“Chino is an extraordinary roller and was schooled by the very best,” said Sam Phillips and Clay Roberts of La Palina in a joint statement. “We are delighted that he will be crafting the next generation of Goldies.”