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The Legends Speak

We take the words right out of their mouths as Cigar Aficionado imagines what it would be like to have a face-to-face with history’s most famous cigar smokers.
P.J. O'Rourke
From the Print Edition:
Cigar Aficionado's 20th Anniversary, September/October 2012

(continued from page 1)

CA: Is the Virginia the predecessor of the modern Toscani?
TWAIN: It has a straw through it; you pull this out, and it leaves a flue, otherwise there would be no draught, not even as much as there is to a nail. Some prefer a nail at first.

CA: People do have a wide-ranging taste in cigars. The French Picaduro and the German Handelsgold have their fans.
TWAIN: I like all the French, Swiss, German and Italian domestic cigars, and have never cared to inquire what they are made of; and nobody would know, anyhow, perhaps.

CA: But do you really think domestic European cigars can compare to Cuban cigars?
TWAIN: Nearly any cigar will do me, except a Havana—high-tariff cigars, red-and-gilt girdled and nested in a rosewood box along with a damp sponge, cigars which develop a dismal black ash and burn down the side and smell, and go on smelling more and more infamously, the furnisher of it praising it all the time and telling you how much the deadly thing cost. I may seem to light his red-gartered cigar, but that is only for courtesy’s sake; I smuggle it into my pocket for the poor and light one of my own.

CA: What you’re telling me sounds very much like an essay you wrote called “Concerning Tobacco” that was found in your personal papers after you died. Would you say that publishing it posthumously is like one of those “red-gartered” cigars you criticize—just making money from a
famous name?
TWAIN: It is better to take what does not belong to you than to let it lie around neglected.

Winston Churchill

 

CIGAR AFICIONADO: The kind of cigar that you like best is well-attested—a Havana maduro double corona with a 48 ring gauge. But it’s never been exactly clear what your favorite brand is.
SIR WINSTON SPENCER CHURCHILL: I am easily satisfied with the very best.

CA: Would your namesake Romeo y Julieta Churchill fill the bill?
CHURCHILL: Give us the tools and we will finish the job.

CA: What is the most important part of a great cigar, the filler, the binder or the wrapper?
CHURCHILL: It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

CA: Some people say that, actually, the three parts of a cigar are along its length—the first third, hay; the second third, gold; the last third, wreckage. When we see you in photographs you always seem to have a newly lit cigar in your hand. Do you, in fact, smoke these cigars down to the bitter end?
CHURCHILL: There are men in the world who derive as stern an exaltation from the proximity of disaster and ruin, as others from success.

CA: Are today’s best hand-rolled non-Cuban cigars equal to the Havanas of your day?
CHURCHILL: I pass with relief from the tossing sea of Cause and Theory to the firm ground of Result and Fact.


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