The man in the suit reached out his hand, a smile spreading across his face.
"Randolph Churchill," he said.
The famous surname was no mere circumstance—Randolph Churchill is the great-grandson of the late, great Sir Winston Churchill, and I had the chance to meet him last night. The celebration was one worthy of his famous ancestor, a party with cigars and fine spirits celebrating the launch of the Davidoff Winston Churchill.
Churchill told me that he enjoys the camaraderie of cigars and especially enjoys a good smoke while hunting. When I told him I imagined it would be hard to have his last name and not enjoy cigars, he gave a hearty laugh.
While the name Churchill resonates with virtually everyone, it rings a particularly strong note with cigar lovers. Churchill is arguably history's most famous lover of cigars, and he smoked abundantly and without apology. A noted author, soldier, statesman and commander, one could speak for days about his accomplishments without running out of stories.
The event, held last night in a hip art gallery turned show-space on the west end of Manhattan, featured a first taste of the cigar and a chance to hear Randolph Churchill speak about his famous great-grandfather from the stage in an interview format between him and Hans-Kristian Hoejsgaard, the chief executive officer of Oettinger Davidoff AG.
"People were just captivated by his character," Randolph Churchill told the crowd. "He could understand what it was like as a bricklayer, or a soldier in the trenches. ... He was great fun to be around."
He spoke of a visit Churchill made to the White House, around Christmas time, and his advising the staff of his typical drinking schedule: sherry in the morning, wine with lunch, whiskey and soda after, and Cognac before bed. When put on a plane during the Second World War, he tucked a lit cigar into a compartment before takeoff, and the smoke from the stogie filled part of the cockpit soon thereafter. Nonplussed, Churchill took out the cigar, put it back in his mouth, and began puffing happily as the plane reached altitude.
I could listen to stories about Churchill all day, and I enjoyed the discussion. Soon after, it was time for the cigars, a complete recreation of the old Churchill brand.
I can't accurately test a cigar in a room full of people, and won't, but I can tell you the Churchill-sized smoke I puffed had some toasty qualities and a rather medium-bodied flavor profile. In true Davidoff form, it was well made. (For much more on the cigar itself, read David Clough's news story.)
It's hard to think of a man more worthy of a cigar brand than Sir Winston Churchill. To read much more on his fascinating life, read this story from our archives that we published in 1995.