The Men Behind La Gloria
A small group of passionate cigar men give the La Gloria Cubana brand a boutique feel, despite being part of a huge corporation
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Menendez is also impressed with Guillen’s ability to work with tobacco varieties not traditionally used in General Cigar products and praises the amount of progress Rodriguez has made. “He has grown tremendously over the last several years,” says Menendez, “and is well on his way to becoming a great cigar man. And Leo [Peraza’s] 50 years of experience rounds out the team. They are the perfect four legs for a table.”
Menendez has at least 50 years of experience in the industry as well and avails himself to the Team at all times, though he is not the only one who lauds them. Even the departed Perez-Carrillo has favorable words.
“When I left, it was their turn to take over and bring La Gloria Cubana to the next level,” says Perez-Carrillo. “In their hearts, I know they want to keep it a boutique brand, and they’ll make sure La Gloria Cubana stays in the position it deserves. I think it’s a great team.” Praise from the king himself.
Back at the Super Roll event in Las Vegas, Peraza is seated on stage at an elevated rolling table and his deft hands are projected onto two giant screens. He concentrates only on his work, though perhaps from time to time his mind wanders back to a factory in Miami, or maybe even Cuba. Peraza finishes one cigar, reaches over to a pile of wrapper leaf, and begins another. His skill is centuries old and 500 people try to emulate it and learn as they smoke cigars in unison. Giannini picks up a piece of tobacco leaf and holds it up to the audience.
“This is your wrapper leaf. This is everything,” he says. “You want to get out all the wrinkles. You want to make it perfect. If the wrapper dries out, just take a little bit of water to it.”
Clouds of smoke migrate to the front of the room and blossom into a series of luminous beams as they catch the light of the video projectors. For a moment, it has a nimbus effect behind Giannini, but he moves on and circulates through the room, turning all of us, if only for one morning, into true believers.