Rupert Mackintosh considers suitable after dinner smokes.


I am sure the readers, friends and customers of County Deer Stalking will be delighted to hear that Lady Mackintosh excelled herself this past Christmas with a fine festive spread. Indeed, despite being heavily pregnant, her ladyship still managed to time the turkey and trimmings to perfection, leaving jolly Rupert to gesticulate with his glass of sherry while pointing at his collection of Roe buck heads on the wall.

Once the table was cleared and candles snuffed, I loosened my belt and swayed precariously over to my humidor, to pick out a stick that could handle the amount of precautionary lining that had preceded. So which brand and indeed which viotola did I reach for in my time of supreme contentment?

Picking an after dinner cigar is actually just as difficult as making a selection for another time. Champers and canapés on the terrace calls for something light and fragrant, while crashing down into a fireside chair post-3000 calories requires something with a little more, ahem, ‘body’, or it will just be swept away by your fully charged pallet.

BolivarTraditional cigars of which are remarked as being “unmistakably Cuban” are by far your best option in this circumstance. Cigars that are considered to have the ‘Cuban quality’ will have a richness and earthiness that really fills the pallet but without the tannic or salty hints found in Dominican or Nicaraguan rubbish (sorry, “alternatives”). The years have forced me to become a raging snob when it comes to non-Cuban cigars, simply because they just don’t measure up, no matter how hard the poor producers try and no matter how much love and care (and marketing) is put in to a brand. But that tale is for another day, so I will progress to the brands.

Partagas and Bolivar are by far the strongest contenders for a good after dinner cigar. They have a depth and density of smoke that really sweeps through your mouth and gives you something to reflect with. Other brands, while perfect for the early evening or empty stomach smoke, simply fail to make the same impression. Size is also really important – length is of course the way that most people judge the “impressiveness” of their sticks, but a long cigar will be pretty pointless if you have not got the time or inclination to sit with it for one hour, possibly two. The Robusto size is a great post-dinner option, as it has a very large ring gauge (diameter and circumference) but without being too long. The result? Lots of chunky smoke without being sat with it all night.

Ramon Allones, Cohiba and Trinidad also get honourable mentions, and with Montecristo as an outside option that should only really be considered if nothing better is available. This sounds harsh (and considering the Monte 2 is most peoples favourite stick), but a main point of this topic is “try something different, try something stronger, what always works with a drink won’t necessarily work after a big meal”.

Which stick did I opt for on the night then? Well interestingly I went for the Bolivar Royal Corona. Competitively priced (and often overlooked), billows that classic Cuban tinderbox and spices taste and smoked well right down to the last inch, lasting just under an hour. I have a real soft spot for Bolivar cigars, and on balance I smoked more Partagas this year than usual so fancied supporting an old favourite. And it repaid my commitment in spades. What a lovely smoke!

I am sure that readers will join me in sending warm congratulations to Rupert and his good wife on the recent birth of their son.  




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