Situated in one of the highest corners of Ashford Castle and overlooking the beautiful River Cong and stunning Ashford Estate, there are few better places to enjoy a cigar than The Cigar Terrace at Ashford Castle. Stocked with Mr Tollman’s carefully-curated cigar collection, the choice will impress aficionados and provide the perfect introduction for first timers. Ashford Castle’s resident cigar expert, Noli Alngohuro, talks about his passion for and explains why, when it comes to cigars, slow and steady wins the race.
What makes Ashford Castle’s Cigar Terrace so special?
When the Castle underwent a major restoration three years ago, a planning permit was granted to build six suites where the Billiard’s Room, The Cinema and the Cigar Terrace stand now. However, the Tollman’s, always thinking about how to further enhance our guests’ experience, especially during those cold Irish winters, added three public spaces instead for everyone to enjoy. That to me is something extra special!
The terrace has fantastic views overlooking the River Cong and beyond and features an awning made by local craftsmen in the village of Cong. Furnished with wrought iron tables and chairs and a flagstone floor, the Cigar Terrace is beautifully-designed space in which to enjoy a whiskey, cognac or cigar.
What should you look for in a quality cigar?
The biggest hurdle at the start will be finding the right cigar to make your first experience an enjoyable one. It can be really difficult to know what to look for when selecting those first few cigars, it doesn’t have to be expensive and don’t be afraid to ask the cigar attendant for advice, he or she can guide you in the right direction.
One should always start with a mild-flavoured cigar, a light to medium smoke. For beginners, I would recommend something like a Cohiba Siglo I. Its flavour profile consists of creamy sweetness to begin with, followed by mocha and coffee bean flavours with a medium tobacco taste.
How does one taste a cigar? And typically, what are the different taste profiles?
It is said that at least 200 pairs of hands have touched a cigar before it reaches a humidor. Cigar making is an artisanal craft that requires you to slowly savour all the flavours. Rush it and you’ll miss those little nuances and the enjoyable underlying flavours. So, go easy! The rituals of feeling, sniffing, cutting and lighting a cigar are all part of appreciating a perfectly rolled cigar. A typical taste profile usually includes herbs and spices like pepper and cinnamon, earth and minerals, plants like grass and wood as well as a nutty, coffee or cocoa bean taste and creamy sweetness.
How do cigars differ in taste from region to region? Or is it about the different leaf that is used in rolling them?
It is a combination of the terroir, the craftsmanship and the blend of leaf, which all create the flavour profile.
Can you tell us more about Mr Tollman’s limited cigar collection?
Mr. Tollman’s private humidor has housed some of the finest cigars ever crafted, which he’s handed over to the hotel. Our guests are lucky to be able to sample some really rare cigars. Treasures include Perfectos from Cuba housed in a millennium commemorative ceramic jar, the Montecristo “A”, the Lusitania which is the crown jewel of Partagas, and a selection of un-banded hand-rolled cigars, which are a strictly-limited supply.
What are your personal favourites from the Cigar Terrace collection?
I occasionally enjoy a celebratory smoke and when I do, I’ll light a Partagas Serie D No 4 or a Montecristo Edmundo.
Drinks are available from the Billiards Room to guests enjoying the Cigar Terrace. What drinks do you recommend to complement a cigar?
We have an excellent collection of whiskey, Cognac or even Rum that can pair nicely while smoking a cigar.
To accompany your cigar, order a glass of premium Irish whiskey from the extensive Billiards Room drinks menu.
Image Credits: All images courtesy of Red Carnation Hotels.