When Did Churchills Become Churchills?

When Did Churchills Become Churchills?
Photo/Jeff Harris
Vintage Romeo y Julieta Churchills, one of the most famous Cuban cigars.

You see them in every tasting section of every issue of Cigar Aficionado—Churchills, big cigars that combine length and girth. The size is a standard one inside Cuban cigar factories, 7 inches long with a ring gauge of 47. For Cigar Aficionado tasting parameters, it’s any cigar that measures 6 3/4 inches to 7 3/8 inches long, with a ring gauge of at least 47.

The size is named for Churchill, but the timing of its origin is disputed. Many say it was created in the Romeo y Julieta factory in the late 1940s, after a visit by Sir Winston himself, who was an avid smoker of cigars and of Romeos in particular. Others believe it wasn’t until the 1950s that the Churchill name first appeared on Romeo y Julieta cigars.

Before there were Romeo y Julieta Churchills, there was the Romeo y Julieta Clemenceau, made to the same dimensions. (In a Cuban cigar factory, the Churchill size is known as a Julieta No. 2.) Today, Clemenceaus are gone, while the Romeo Churchill remains. While the Cuban cigar industry has eliminated Punch and Hoyo de Monterrey Churchills, it has expanded Churchills within the Romeo line, adding Short, Wide and Petit Churchills—which really aren’t Churchills at all, for they are shorter cigars.

Regardless of the origin, today the name Churchill is synonymous with large cigars.