A tradition in France and Italy, of which I am fond, is that of the digestif. This can be a liqueur, an eaux de vie or a brandy and is taken after a large meal to aid digestion. This is in contrast to an aperitif which is enjoyed before the meal to stimulate the appetite. You can, of course, do both.

I’m particularly fond of a nice glass of Calvados at the end of the evening, especially when accompanied by a good cigar. Calvados hails from Normandy and is the distillate of the juice of fermented apples. That description in no way does justice to the Calvados Pays d’Auge de Christian Drouin (Inverarity One to One, £44.99). This VSOP Calvados is simply sublime and perfectly balanced. It’s double distilled and aged in small wine casks for added complexity and is best enjoyed with friends in front of a roaring fire.

Armagnac is often considered a poor man’s Cognac, a reputation gained by the large volumes that were historically sold far too young and mostly in the domestic market. In fact, Armagnac can match and indeed surpass Cognac in terms of fullness and depth of flavour. You just have to try a bottle from Domaine Tariquet and you’ll see what I mean. Armagnac XO Ch. du Tariquet (Waitrose, £33). The Grassa family have been growing grapes and distilling the juice to make Armagnac on their estate since 1912. They employ the continuous distillation method and age the spirit in lightly toasted French oak barrels. The average age of the brandies in the XO is 15 years which undoubtedly makes this bottle the bargain of the week.

Grappa is Italy’s favourite digestif, but is often misunderstood in Scotland. There are lots of different styles available, and I’d suggest trying as many as possible before settling on your favourite. I prefer the Grappas that come from the more delicate grapes such as Muscat. These examples combine a certain smoothness and finesse with the trademark strength and character of the spirit. Grappa di Moscato (Inverarity One to One, £30.99 for 50cl). If you only try one Grappa this season, it should be this one. You only need a wee glass as a little goes a long way.