Avelino Lara, the original maestro who oversaw production of Cohiba cigars in Cuba, died Tuesday in Havana. He was 88.
The Cuban-born Lara worked in the cigar business for his entire life. He was the first director of El Laguito, the factory that produced not only Cuba's most famous brand, Cohiba, but the original diplomatic Trinidad and many Cuban Davidoff cigars.
"I learned many things about tobacco from my grandfather," Lara said to Cigar Aficionado in its premier issue in Autumn 1992. "Tobacco is part of Cuban culture, and Cohiba is the best cigar made in Cuba."
In 1996, Lara opened a new chapter on his career by moving to Nassau, the Bahamas, and rolling cigars for the award winning Graycliff hotel and restaurant. Soon after, he created the Graycliff brand with the Garzaroli family, making cigars in a very small factory just behind the hotel. He later retired from Graycliff.
"He had a passion for his art that no one can replicate," said Enrico Garzaroli, chairman of Graycliff.
"Avelino will be sorely missed. Even though he was no longer present in the rolling room each day, the torcedores continue to refer to his passion, knowledge and his constant testing of their skills," said Paolo Garzaroli, president and co-founder of the Graycliff Cigar Co. "I will personally miss his dedication to our company, his drive for perfection, and his many wisdoms which he shared with me."
Lara's son Abel is a roller at Graycliff.
For more on Lara's life in the cigar industry, read Tuesday's Cigar Insider.
To read James Suckling's original story on Lara and the Cohiba brand, click here.
Photo courtesy Graycliff Cigar Co.