Churchill’s fondness for cigars was born during his time in Havana, Cuba, in 1885, along with a lifetime habit of siestas. Just before his twenty-first birthday, Churchill went on a semi-official expedition there and witnessed the fighting between the Spanish government soldiers and guerilla fighters at Arroyo Blanco. He was to continue smoking cigars throughout his life. Like his drinking, Churchill’s consumption of cigars was not as prodigious as it seemed. He tended to chew on cigars, puffing the smoke out rather than inhaling, often discarding them half-smoked. It is said that when Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery told him, ‘I neither drink nor smoke and am a hundred per cent fit’, Churchill famously replied ‘I drink and smoke and I am two hundred per cent fit’.
Although he was given presents of more cigars than he could ever smoke, Churchill also spent a considerable amount of money on Havana cigars.
Among his suppliers were James J. Fox. Purveyors of fine specialist cigars to Churchill and others, including Oscar Wilde and British and European royalty, James J. Fox have been trading for over 225 years from 19 St James’s Street, London. See the Freddie Fox Museum, with Churchill’s ledger of account at the shop, the chair he sat in while selecting his favourite cigars and other memorabilia.