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Freedom fighter’s night off

Freedom fighter’s night off

Blackfriars tulips

There may be better ways to spend a Monday evening than to sit with good company in a London vault, smoking Cuban cigars and drinking fine Scotch whiskey, but I’m hard pressed to think of any. Thus was our delicious fate on one such evening as cool ambient mist descended through the pale blue gloaming. There is something almost gratuitously gratifying about watching commuters hobble and squint their way home, or bowl down the boulevard with bravado as you settle in for a good session.

Our destination was the pristine long bar Voltaire, a stone’s throw from St Paul’s in the shadow of Unilever’s austere curved hq beside Blackfriar’s bridge, and the tipple a bottle of Dalmore’s Cigar Malt Reserve, paired immaculately with a gargantuan Bolivar cigar that would have got the thumbs up from Churchill himself, or two fingers even.

This marriage of flavours was conceived in the light of the respective brand synergies, each being inspired by the notion of freedom. Dalmore’s emblematic regal stag with its twelve pronged antlers was inspired by an incident involving such a creature.

Way back in 1263, whilst out hunting on horseback, King Alexander III encountered and alarmed a majestic stag. Doubtless unaware of the regal status of his guest, the stag flipped Alexander from the horse and found himself in something of a rut. In steps Colin Fitzgerald, First Chieftain of the Clan Mackenzie, who speared the poor old beast, saving the King’s doubtless grateful noggin. As a gesture of gratitude, the crown then allowed Mackenzie the right to bear the head of the royal stag with its twelve antlers. As of 1868 when the Mackenzie clan became tenants of the Dalmore distillery, the emblem has taken pride of place on each and every bottle. Rather a gripping yarn to muse over as you sup a dram of the good stuff.

The stag’s fate can be likened to the proud insignia of Simón Bolívar, a revolutionary who was a key player in the liberation of Latin American people from the Spanish. Bolivar suffered for his cause, as did the stag, and whilst the stag died in the process, Bolivar survived throughout his campaign and snuffed it as a result of tb. There is nothing like a good yarn or slice of history and culture to help the fumes down. 

In their own words: “The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve benefits from a judicious selection of aged stocks drawn from casks of three types: American white oak ex-bourbon casks, 30 year old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts and premier cru Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques.” The group consensus was that it was a mighty fine pairing, with distinct flavours of toffee and butterscotch presented in the whiskey and a strong yet not overbearing aroma emanating from the Bolivar. One to savour.

I will leave you with this much quoted aphorism of Groucho Marx’s, another notorious Cuban chimney. When quizzing a female contestant as to why she had as many as nine children she replied “I love my husband” to which Groucho immediately quipped, “I love my cigar, but I take it out of my mouth every so often.”

A season of master classes including cocktails, champagne, spirits and cigars at Voltaire can be booked here. Cigar classes are run by Hunters & Frankau on the last Monday of each month.

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