Most cigar tobacco is cured, processed, fermented, aged, etc. for at least a couple of years after it is harvested, and before it is used to make cigars. After cigars are rolled, finished cigars are then aged for an additional amount of time. The amount of time varies, depending on the manufacturer and other factors affecting the marketing of the cigars. Some finished cigars may not be aged at all, or for too short a period of time, which does not allow the different tobacco leaves in the blend to marry, and for bitter elements in the tobacco to dissipate. This is especially true of lower priced bundled cigars, but it can also be the case with more expensive boxed cigars, including some popular national brands. In addition, after leaving the factory, cigars may be shipped and stored under different conditions, making it even harder to determine if they should be smoked before spending some time in your humidor. (When aging cigars in a humidor, remove any cellophane, tubes, packaging, etc.)
Therefore, we have reached the following conclusions relating to the importance of aging your cigars in a properly maintained humidor before smoking them:
- Aging most brands of cigars for at least two or three months prior to smoking will greatly improve the taste.
- Age your cigars for a year (or more) to obtain a significantly noticeable mellow flavor.
- A bad cigar, or a brand that you just do not like, will not transform into a good cigar by aging, even over a long period of time. However, a good cigar that initially tastes bad out of the box (or bundle) can improve dramatically after aging.
- Inexpensive bundled cigars may require more initial aging (after purchase) than premium boxed cigars.
- Fuller bodied cigars will continue to mellow and improve more with long term aging, compared to milder cigars.
- Cigars purchased from a local tobacconist's humidor are more likely to be ready to smoke immediately (or with less aging), as opposed to cigars purchased online or via mail order.
- Every cigar ages and tastes differently, even cigars in the same box or bundle.
Continue to page two for links to the weekly/monthly results of our cigar aging taste tests.