Of course, the cigars you hand to complete strangers at the beginning of a season ought to be completely different from those you enjoy at the moment your team beats its heated rival or lifts the championship trophy overhead. The victory cigar should be something special and, according to our experts, it should take a long, long time to smoke. “If it’s an SEC game and nice weather, it’s a good excuse to have a nice Churchill,” says Michael Powers, a graduate student at Clemson University and a graduate of the University of Florida. “I know that time is of the essence for everybody, but when you’re tailgating, you’re setting aside that time already, and you can afford to set aside an hour and a half to two hours smoking a cigar.”
“I typically smoke a La Flor Dominicana cigar called the Air Bender, which is kind of my game-day cigar," adds Garth Bugenhagen, a resident of Appleton, Wisconsin, a regular tailgater at Green Bay Packers games, and an avid cigar enthusiast. "It’s more of a heavys trength cigar with a smaller ring gauge and smaller size, but it still lasts up to an hour and a half."
Harris Saunders, owner of Cigars and More in Birmingham, Alabama, says one of the biggest weeks of the year at his shops is the annual rivalry between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Tennessee Volunteers. In the early 1950s, Alabama athletic trainer Jim Goostree began handing out cigars to players following a victory over the hated Vols, and for decades, fans of the Tide have kept that tradition alive with a ceremonial cigar.
His customers routinely reach for cigars by Davidoff, which “are a little more high-end, in the $15 or $20 range. It’s more of a victory or special occasion cigar,” says Saunders. A graduate of Auburn University, Saunders had plans to attend the 2011 BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Arizona, but his plans were scrapped due to a freak winter storm that blanketed the southeast. He celebrated the Tigers’ championship in the best way short of being there—with an enormous and flavorful Davidoff Double R.
“The Davidoff Double R is the flagship of their line, and it’s a really big cigar. It’s around seven-and-a-half inches long, with a 50 ring gauge,” explains Saunders. “It’s a really great cigar.”
What is your favorite victory cigar? Let us know in the Forum.