Cigars and Churchill

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Cigars and Churchill

Everyone has its own little secrets but when it becomes a passion, the world calls it a hobby in case of famous people and an obsession in all other cases. Winston Churchill was both passionate and obsessed with cigars - no important political or public event could be held without one (or sometimes much more than one) of his favorite Cuban cigars. Many wonder, when did this lifelong hobby begin? And how could he live such a long life smoking up to 6-8 cigars a day?

Without getting deeper into Sir Churchill's life, his life could be described in a few words - born in rich aristocratic and politically powerful family, the young William just couldn't choose another career than the one he thought would suit him the best - the military and later political arena.

He decided to take a trip to Cuba just before his 21st anniversary - and immediately came under fire there. Cuban guerrillas have been fighting against Spanish soldiers since Cuba was still under Spanish Government, and young Churchill has been given an opportunity to write about the fight right in the field.

However, one can say that the most important thing about this trip was Churchill's quick addiction to Havana cigars. Once he has tasted them on the "...large, rich, beautiful island...", he could no longer quit this habit. Cigars have always been his passion; some sources say he smoked from 6 to 8 cigars a day and others claim he was able to smoke up to 10 cigars a day. And it was not a tiny cigarillo advised for beginners, but one of the largest sticks from the Cuban cigars's line instead. He preferred the Romeo y Julieta brand the most, that's why the topmost vitola of the brand has been called Churchill in his honour. The cigar is 7 inches long with a 47 ring gauge and is still considered as one of the most popular formats among aficionados.

Cigar smoking was the strongest love of Churchill's entire life. He used to keep hundreds of Cuban cigars (he never smoked cigars coming from other countries) in a room near his study in the Chartwell residence. The avid smoker even invented a protective wrapper for the end of the cigar, calling it a "bellybando" - to prevent ash from falling on his coat because he would often fall asleep while smoking a stogie after dinner. Sir Winston never used a proper cutter, preferring to pierce his moistened cigar with a match and was very negligent with the ash falling down his clothes and carpets, despite always carrying his favorite silver ashtray with him and the "bellybando" he actually invented.

There are people who may not be aware of who this great personality was, the services he performed for his homeland and the rest of the universe, fervent speeches he held around the world and reforms he implemented while being Great Britain's prime-minister. But ask someone who was the most passionate cigar smoker from Great Britain "always carrying Cuba on his lips", and you'll immediately hear the right answer "It's Churchill, dude - we all owe him the Churchill shape".

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The piercing of the end of the cigar with a matchstick, as opposed to cutting it, was not a Churchill invention. That is the way they've done it in Cuba for eons. It works rather well, I might add, albeit at a smaller diameter than a conventional punch, and the same match is then used for lighting the cigar.
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