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La Palina – Woman-Made Cigar

La Palina’s band proudly showcases the portrait of Goldie Paley. Bill Paley who resurrected the La Palina brand relies on a number of women to make the brand world-class and to protect the legacy of Goldie.


Sandy Cobas (El Titan De Bronze Factory Owner) owns a cigar factory in Miami’s Little Havana. With Courtney Smith (VP La Palina), an idea developed. Why not pay homage to the many women who make La Palina what it is? As fortune would have it, Maria Sierra, one of the factory’s best rollers was also interested in rolling for a special project. So a project began to emerge.

It will be released in late spring of 2012 and will be called, the “La Palina Collection: Goldie”. The Goldie will fulfill Bill Paley’s desire to create a cigar that celebrates women in the cigar industry. It is being designed and executed by Courtney Smith. Tobacco selection and production is being managed by Sandy Cobas and the rolling will be done exclusively by Maria Sierra. Maria is not your ordinary cigar roller.

la palina factory best cigar roller maria sierra miami

Photo: La Palina

Maria Sierra was part of a group of female cigar rollers trained in Cuba at a time when most cigar rolling in factories was done by men. Thanks to Celia Sanchez Manduley, the Cuban government made it a priority to incorporate women into the field of cigar rolling. The first class of rollers began on July 22, 1967. They were trained by those now legendary in the Cuban cigar business. Avelino Lara and Eduardo Rivera Irizarri were the primary teachers. By the time that Maria left Cuba, she had reached a 95 rating and was a category 9 roller. She and her team rolled cigars for Fidel Castro and diplomatic gifts. Now in Little Havana, Miami, she is applying her skills to a traditional Cuban size cigar for the Goldie. The Goldie is a size called Laguito #2, named for the factory, and it measures 6” x 38 ring gauge with a pigtail cap.

Cigar Journal visited Maria in Miami during May. She explained that the same week that she arrived in Miami, she met with Sandy and started rolling cigars the next day. She is a sweet, soft-spoken woman. She is thrilled to be making the Laguito #2 size again and asked Cigar Journal to pass greetings on to her friends still working in El Laguito.

Sandy explained that the Goldie contains some very special and exclusive tobaccos. In meetings with one of her tobacco suppliers in Central America, Sandy asked if she could try some Medio Tiempo leaf. The rare leaf which does not grow on every plant, is stronger than the powerful ligero leaf. She was able to secure a supply of the leaf large enough to guarantee production of the Goldie and that is the only cigar in which the leaf will be found.

From the concept, to leaf, rolling, and marketing, this cigar is being controlled by the women behind Goldie’s band. This petit cigar is truly an unique creation and one Goldie surely smiles down upon.


La Palina Cigars


This article was published in the Cigar Journal Summer Edition 2012. Read more


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