You see the word “vintage” in a cigar’s name – but what does that actually mean? Go beyond the marketing-speak and get our close-up look at the tobaccos used for premium cigars, what constitutes a true “vintage cigar” and our 10 top “vintage” picks.
Top 5: My Favorite Famous Cigar Smokers of All Time
My 5 Favorite Famous Cigar Smokers of ALL Time
By Tommy Zman
Just surf online and you’ll find countless lists of world famous cigar smokers – but I didn’t want to just crank out another list…I wanted this list to mean something to me, and hopefully to you as well. So, I broke my list into five categories: Politics, Sports, Entertainment, Writing and Business, and picked men who not only vehemently loved their premium hand rolled sticks, but were also bad-asses in their own way, guys who played by their own rules and made a difference in their chosen fields. So here’s what I think would be one hell of an awesome gathering of guys who would be amazing to herf and hang with. They’d talk endlessly about their life adventures and grace us with their famous quotes, all while firing up the cigars they loved.
Politicians have long been known for puffing their fat, expensive cigars while making world changing deals in smoky back rooms. But there is without question, no greater political figure who professed his voracious love for the lavish leaf than the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Sir Winston Churchill. Old Winnie was indeed a bad-ass to the max, taking on Adolf Hitler’s Germany while assuring the people of Great Britain that they would be victorious. He truly did not give a damn what others thought of him, especially when it came to his insane love for cigars as he smoked them all day long and everywhere he went. The stubborn s.o.b. even smoked in bed, ruining many a pair of silk pajamas, forcing his wife to make him a nighttime cigar bib. It is estimated that Sir Winnie smoked – yeah, you’re about to read this correctly, over 250,000 premium Cubanos during his lifetime – that’s a quarter of a million cigars. While I don’t have a calculator handy, that translates to one hell of a shit-load per day. When the Romeo y Julieta factory in Havana named the Churchill size after the Prime Minister, I think that pretty much solidified him as the world’s all-time greatest cigar smoker.
My Favorite Churchill Quotes:
“I drink a great deal. I sleep a little, and I smoke cigar after cigar. That is why I am in two-hundred-percent form.”
“I may be drunk, Miss, but in the morning I will be sober and you will still be ugly.”
When you talk about famous cigar smokers in the sports world, you immediately think of the immortals like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Babe Ruth; but it’s the Spanish-born professional tour golfer, Miguel Angel Jimenez who tops my list. The man is a cult hero on the European tour with over thirty victories to his name and he is the epitome of bad-ass in every way. Much like we said of Churchill, Jimenez cares not what others say about his openly brash ways, while playing a game that is known for etiquette and gentlemanly sportsmanship. He struts the fairways with his long, flowing blond curly locks of hair while puffing a large premium cigar the entire round. And with his many victories, comes the big prize money, money spent on lavish, and decadent good-life rewards like fine wines, rare whiskies, exotic rums, and of course one hell of a collection of expensive premium hand rolled tobacco treats. He often hears flack from fans and competing golfers alike who profess their disdain for his public puffery, but as you might only guess, he laughs in their faces while sinking another winning putt. The title of the CBS.com April 2015 article sums it up best: Miguel Angel Jimenez Really, Really Does Not Care What You Think.
My Favorite Jimenez Quote:
“I come from a different generation. And I’m not a hypocrite. I don’t hide the way I am. If I want to have a drink, I have a drink. Why shouldn’t I? Is it illegal to drink alcohol? Is tobacco illegal? So why should I care if people see me smoking? I do what I do out in the open. If people have a problem with that they can stick their tongue up their ass and let the rest of us do what we want to do.”
Sure, there are a myriad of actors, singers, comedians and what have you who are known for their cigar infatuation, but when it comes to flat out bad-assery personified, I’ve gotta roll with Jack Nicholson. Every character Jack has ever played in the scads of movies he’s performed in has a ballsy edge, much like the man in real life – a rebellious Tinsel Town legend who has always blurted out what’s on his mind. And yeah, Nicholson just loves his cigars, a lifestyle that began some years back when he wanted to give up his addiction to cigarettes. He openly says he’s not a full-out cigar expert, but he knows what he likes, and he loves Montecristo, Cohiba and Romeo y Julieta. And as far as what’s on his mind, he has referred to the anti-smoking movement as a “waste of time”. Jack holds the honor of being the most nominated male Academy Awards actor of all time. His most prominent roles are masterful and unforgettable in cinematic greats such as Chinatown, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shining, Prizzi’s Honor, Reds, the Joker in the 1989 Batman film, and of course, the acerbic prick of a Marine Corp Colonel named Nathan R. Jessup. Nicholson is one of those brash, larger than life people who plays by his own rules and if you don’t like it, he’ll quickly remind you that “you can’t handle the truth!”
My Favorite Nicholson Quotes:
“The only way to break a bad habit was to replace it with a better habit.” Nicholson, explaining why he switched from cigarettes to cigars.
“With my sun glasses on, I’m Jack Nicholson. Without them, I’m fat and 60.”
When you talk about guys who lived on their own terms, Samuel Langhorne Clemens is pretty damned high on the list. He’s the writer of over 30 books, newspaper man, entrepreneur, publisher, and a humorist and lecturer who entertained the hell out of audiences in the 1800’s with his own special brand of the spoken word. He was a surly dude who always spoke his mind, especially of his massive disdain for politicians, often attacking them in his articles and during speaking engagements. He had a tremendous fascination with technology and spent a lot of time with his close friend, Nikola Tesla in his laboratory. Two of Twain’s absolute loves in life were bourbon and cigars, both of which he consumed in excess. He’s been referred to as the drunken father of American Literature, known for consuming his hooch the entire work day long. As for his affinity for hand rolled cigars, he says in his writings that smoking helped free his creative mind as he would consume up to 300 sticks per month. That’s ten per day, 3,600 per year, yeah keep doing the math. Anybody got a case of Altoids? Of course, he’s best known for the literary classics, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn along with a litany of fiction and satirical work. And he just might be one of the most quoted writers ever; just Google his name and you’ll be reading for a while.
My Favorite Twain Quotes:
“Politicians and diapers must be changed often and for the same reason.”
“I never smoke to excess – that is, I smoke in moderation, only one cigar at a time.”
At around the turn of the century in 1900, Milton Hershey was a confectioner and a millionaire creating his much sought after caramels. But it was a trip to Europe that showed him the deliciously sweet world of chocolate and the machinery that made the treats. Chocolate was considered a luxury in the U.S. and it was his vision to make it affordable to all. He sold his confections business, purchased a mammoth amount of farm land in Lancaster County, PA, and started the Hershey Chocolate company, beginning with the Hershey Bar and then his world-famous Kisses. Milton was a fanatical cigar lover, smoking between 8 and 10 per day while always seen with a cigar in his mouth as his friends said his huge home always had the aroma of a fine stogie. But it wasn’t until his trips to Cuba (purchasing the sugar cane for his chocolate) that he truly developed his passion of hand rolled happiness, his favorite being Cuban Corona-Coronas. While the man was an absolute titan of industry, he was also one of the most benevolent philanthropists there may have ever been. He needed workers for his huge factory, so he built their houses, the schools, the hospital, the roads and all the infrastructure to create his chocolate town. He loved children and made sure they had the best educations possible. Hershey was one hell of a sweet guy and another legend who did things his way.
My Favorite Hershey Quotes:
“One is only happy in proportion as he makes others feel happy.”
“When I started making chocolate I didn’t follow the policies of those already in the business. If I had, I would never have made a go of it. Instead, I started out with the determination to make a better nickel chocolate bar than any of my competitors made, and I did so.”
So, there’s my list – 5 famous cigar smokers, bad-asses one and all, who rock their field of play and always made a difference. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below along with some of your favorite lovers of the leaf.