Hav-A-Tampa Jewels/Swisher Sweets Circa 1969: Throwback Review Weekend

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It all started at the University of Illinois. Late 60s. Picture Animal House Frat. When one of the brothers became "pinned" (bribed by his GF into allowing her to wear his fraternity pin in exchange for allowing him to reach whatever the next base was), he would traditionally be required to hand out cigars.  Invariably, this was either a Hav-A-Tampa Jewel (known forever by its wooden mouthpiece tip) 

See the source image or Swisher Sweets Image result for swisher sweets cigars

Both were about $.10 each if I recall.  If it was a guy from a wealthy family, he would impress us with candela green A&C Grenadiers.  All were atrocious and that one word will have to suffice as far as a review.

Fast forward 8 years to the Law Clerk/Young Lawyer years in Chicago...late 1970s...my employer, later partner and all-around mentor was a dedicated cigar smoker.  Usually, Camacho Churchills. Honduran, they came in aromatic cedar boxes with glassine liner paper embossed with a spider web design. All too cool. The Camachos were gorgeously greasy, so much so that the glassine paper was often oil stained. Lip-smacking spice. I simply loved them and smoked several each day.  No photos survive, which is probably fortunate.

My mentor was a very wealthy guy and at some point developed a channel for CCs through his contacts in Paris and London.  My first was a classic--a Romeo y Julieta Churchill. This would have been around 1979. It was, and remains to this day, the single brightest shining moment in my life with cigars. It would not be overstating things to label it an epiphany. The elegance, the sexy cedar aroma, the complexity and evolution as it smoked down were the consummate revelation.  Many of us have experienced just such a moment; that was mine.  Was it the greatest cigar I have ever smoked?  Maybe, maybe not. But it was easily the most memorable. In recent years, I haven't had the time to smoke I did then and so Churchills don't get as much attention from me as they used to. But I have never been without a box of RyJ Churchills in the humidor and never will be.

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