Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 1874 - 24 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 during the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955.
While Sir Winston Churchill is perhaps best known for being the Prime Minister who lead Britain successfully through the Second World War, the man is also known for his love of food, liquor and, most importantly, cigars. We take a look at these three loves in this iconic man’s life.
A typical day for Sir Winston Churchill is noted as the following; 07:30 Wake up, remain in bed, eat breakfast, read newspapers, work and drink a glass of whiskey and soda (heavily diluted); 11:00 Out of bed, stroll around garden supervising the estate, more whiskey and soda; 13:00 Multi-course lunch washed down with an imperial pint of Champagne (568ml); 15:30 Work from his study with a glass of cognac.
Of course during that hectic day, he would enjoy a cigar or two; at his Chartwell home in Kent, he had the ability to store between 3,000 and 4,000 cigars for his personal consumption.
It is said that Sir Winston Churchill’s favourite food was soup. Of this, he had specifics; it must be thin, and not creamy. Each night, he would eat cold soup before bed, regardless of whatever fine dining experience he had earlier in the day. Turtle soup was his favourite of all, something he served to President Roosevelt during one of his visits.
Another essential on Winston’s dining table was the cheese platter. While you may anticipate Churchill’s favourite cheese to be a British classic, like cheddar or Red Leicester, his cheese of choice was actually Swiss Gruyere. It is noted, Churchill loved an Indian curry but wasn’t a great fan of Chinese food. He wasn’t particularly a fan of dessert either; instead appreciating a cigar after dinner.
As we know, Sir Winston Churchill started each day with a tipple of whiskey or brandy if he desired a change. This was heavily diluted, so he wasn’t actually drunk all day, as you may expect for someone drinking whiskey first thing in the morning. His absolute favourite, though, was Champagne. His Champagne demands were very specific though, with Pol Roger being the bottle of choice for him. Speaking of his favourite drink, Churchill states: “In success you deserve it and in defeat, you need it”.
Sir Winston Churchill’s love of cigars all began when he was working as a journalist in Cuba. Here he discovered the famous Havana cigars, and his obsession with them lasted the rest of his life. Living back in London, Churchill ordered in imported cigars, keeping well stocked, even through prohibitionary periods of war.
It is believed that he smoked somewhere around 200,000 cigars in his lifetime; which is around 8 per day! However, it is unlikely that he finished all of them, as his smoking habits tended to involve only making it through half a stogie at a time. The remaining halves were discarded in his ashtrays, or as in later life, given to his gardener to use as pipe tobacco.
Often appearing in public with a cigar in his mouth, Churchill became renowned as a cigar smoker. As such, he received many cigar cutters as gifts over the years. Despite this, however, he did not use a cigar cutter on his own smokes. Instead, he would moisten the end of the cigar and use an extra-long match to poke a hole through it. He would then blow through the cigar from the opposite end to ensure that it would draw properly. If his cigar went out while smoking it, he would use a candle close at hand to relight it.
It is apparent from this that Churchill’s smoking didn’t always follow the strict etiquettes about smoking cigars that some do. As well as not using a cutter, Churchill often fell asleep with cigar in hand, or become too engrossed in conversation or literature to notice the ash dropping all over his clothes. It is reported that his suits were often sent in for repair due to the number of burns acquired from his smoking habits.
His lifestyle did come at a heavy fiscal cost; at times it is noted he did buy a bargain or three; on one trip to the United States in the 1930's he purchased 1,000 Royal Darby Longfellows for just $147 (less than 15 cents per stick).
Did he only smoke Churchill cigars? No, in fact he is well known for smoking and enjoying a wide range of cigar brands and sizes.
With his love of cigars, whiskey and champagne; he certainly lived an expensive lifestyle...
From Statesman to Brand Name
Romeo and Julieta cigars were his favourite brand, hence why the iconic cigar smoker is the namesake of the brands uppermost vitola. At seven inches long and with a 47 ring gauge, this cigar size is one of the most popular amongst cigar aficionados.
Churchill was so fond of his cigars that he kept his house, Chartwell Manor, heavily stocked. The room adjoining his study regularly contained around 4,000 cigars, most of which were Cubans.
A side note - the amount of consumers that come to us wanting a "Churchill" cigar is really quite staggering; hence why every now and then we will run our mailer explaining that a "Churchill" cigar is the size of a cigar, not a specific cigar per se...
Would you like to live like Winston Churchill? He did live to be 90, after all!