So, as I described in one of my earlier posts on my Havana trip last month, Yolanda, the custom roller / “house roller” from LCDH Melia Habana, mentioned something to me. She’s apparently going to be coming out shortly with her own “custom jar” for her custom cigars.
Yolanda Medina is a lovely lady. In her upper 60’s now, she’s been rolling at the LCDH store at the Melia Habana hotel for about 18 years, and has been rolling cigars for an astonishing 48 or so now. Starting rolling at age 19 at the H. Upmann factory, she’s well renowned for her past experience as a roller, as well as a former production manager from both the Romeo y Julieta factory and the Partagas factory. She’s been the house roller at the Melia Habana LCDH since 1997, and she’s well renowned for that. And, she herself is a former Guiness World Record holder, for rolling one of the world’s longest cigars in the mid 80’s sometime, before Cueto came to fame recently for doing the same. I think it’s fair to say that she’s in the big league of custom rollers that cigar enthusiasts flock to Havana for. Herself, Jorge Lopez Leal (from Club Habana, and of “Monsdale” fame), Reynaldo from Conde de Villanueva, Cueto from the El Morro shop, and also formerly Hamlet from RyJ (when he was rolling there) – they’re all amazing rollers who are some of the most courteous and excellent “faces” for Habanos cigars.
On this past trip, I snagged myself a bundle of her custom piramides, her signature roll. Those are what she’s most well-renowned for, and what she said she rolls 2-to-1 compared to all the other formats she rolls combined, I was told. (And, as Alex, a good Canadian BOTL and usual fellow-traveller has told me before, she’s usually sold out of them, and he’s always in a bind to get those specifically, as they’re his favourites from the island). Though, her custom 898’s / dalias are slowly but surely catching up, and she gifted me with one of those to try when I visited her that day – it definitely hit the spot for me as a late-morning start with a nice cappuccino.
But anyways, she’s in the works with coming out with a custom jar, if you can call it that. As she explained to me, and as the below pictures show, it’s a wooden jar. She stated that it was her intent and continuing-want to do a ceramic jar instead. But the jar as-shown perfectly fits a 25-bundle of her custom 898’s / dalias, or will also fit about 19 of her custom piramides. The wooden container is currently at a cost of $150 CUC’s, but she’s trying to negotiate a better price through the manufacturer to make it much more feasible, and back down to well inside of a two-digit cost she said.
Through the assistance of Fred, a Chinese businessman she’s had a long-standing customer friendship with, she was able to get LCDH’s and/or Caracol’s permission to be able to offer these custom wooden “jars” at her rolling table in the Habana Libre shop. So, she made planning arrangements with a Chinese manufacturer, also with the assistance of Fred, to have the jars made – with her initial intent of ceramic jars, but her agreeing to be open to the wooden / cedar jar (as shown above) as a bit of a prototype.
As we chatted, she was right in the midst of rolling a 500-stick order for Fred of custom robusto extras, and said she would be going to China in April for a few weeks to visit him, and would hopefully be finalizing the jar arrangements. She said she was planning on going back to her original want for a ceramic jar instead, but might still take an initial production-run of some of these wooden ones.
She said it’d likely all be sorted out over this spring, and would likely have ready stocks of them in hand by mid- / end-summer – plenty of time, hopefully, to have it sorted out prior to the next Encuentros Partagas festival in the upcoming fall. I myself am looking forward to seeing the final results of these later on this fall hopefully. And, will likely be loading up on more of her custom piramides and dalias too.