Cigar Aficionado

Thoughts of Sir Winston

I’ve always admired Sir Winston Churchill. Half American, half British, a man of words and a man of action, he stood up to the Nazi threat, all while puffing more cigars than 20 men would normally smoke. How can you not admire him?

I recently picked up the tidy (192 page) biography on him by John Keegan, which came out this year in paperback, published by Penguin. It’s as much a surprise to see such a short book by Keegan, he of the epic tomes on both World Wars, as it is to imagine a sub-200 pager giving anyone a complete view of as complex a man as Winston Churchill. But it’s a fine read, with just enough insight on Churchill's amazing life.

Here’s a great little nugget: In 1901, as a freshman in England’s House of Commons, Churchill criticized a proposed army buildup, while uttering what turned out to be a most prescient warning. “A European war cannot be anything but a cruel, heartrending struggle, which, if we are ever to enjoy the fruits of victory, must demand, perhaps for several years, the whole manhood of the nation the entire suspension of peaceful industries, and the concentration to one end of every vital energy of the community.”

Even if you dismiss the history, it’s nearly impossible for cigar lovers not to adore Churchill. The man had a passion for cigars rivaling almost anyone in history. While the Keegan book won’t reveal much about Churchill as a cigar smoker, this story from the Cigar Aficionado archives tells virtually all. He acquired his taste for Cubans in 1895 on a trip to Havana, where he virtually lived on oranges in cigars. He was constantly burning his clothes with his cigars. He had 3,000 to 4,000 stocked in his study at any given time. And, of course, his name has been given to a widely popular cigar size, the 7 inch long, 47 ring gauge Churchill.

Winston Churchill has graced our cover twice, most recently on the 10th Anniversary issue, where he was named Man of the Century. Count me as a fan.

What about you?

"Dave, I have always thought that he is the greatest Cigar Icon of all times, he has my vote." —December 17, 2007 15:14 PM