How To Age A Cigar Like A Pro
So you’ve been welcomed into the cigar smoking fraternity and you’ve figured out how to properly choose, cut and smoke a cigar, but it doesn’t end there. What about storing and aging cigars? Should you buy green cigars and age it yourself, or opt for pre-aged cigars that come at a higher price? And what is the deal with humidors? Do you need a separate one for every brand of cigar you wish to age?
So many questions, so little time! To make things a little easier, the team at The Stash has rounded up a panel of cigar aging specialists and asked them to help us put together a beginners’ guide to ensuring the best cigar quality by means of aging. We are happy to present you with a summary of their collective wisdom.
To age or not to age?
Cigars smokers, like wine lovers, have their personal preferences where the aging of their guilty pleasure is concerned. Some prefer to smoke a cigar early to experience the freshness and bounce, while others like to keep it under lock and key for a few years to allow a deeper, more robust personality to develop. In short – it’s up to you. The best way to determine what you like is to smoke a variety of green and aged cigars and see what suits your palate best.
But what of the cigar before it reaches your humidor? Good question – most premium cigars will already have had the benefit of a certain level of aging even before it is made available for purchase. In fact, the tobacco used to produce premium cigars are normally aged for two years; while high-end premium tobacco is often three years old and ultra-special blends can be aged for up to ten years! Once the manufacturers of these high-end stogies receive the tobacco from their growers, they’ll roll the cigars and store it for another one or two years before making it available on the market.
However, at the moment there is such a high demand for these premium cigars that they are often sold straight off the roller, which leaves the aging process up to the purveyor and buyer and brings us to the next question – for how long should you leave a cigar to age?
For how long should you age your cigars?
Again, this will be determined by your personal taste, as well as whether the cigar was pre-aged by either the producer or purveyor. For the sake of this article, we will assume that you’ve acquired a completely green cigar that has not been aged at all. For this purpose, the duration of maturation will result in the following:
- Three to four weeks: When you buy a green cigar the minimum amount of time you should let it rest is 3-4 weeks. This length of time is sufficient to allow for the filler leaves to blend, the taste to settle and the moisture levels to settle, which means it will smoke better.
- Three months: If you can wait this long you’ll be rewarded with a flavorful stogie in which the oils have begun their natural dissipation, resulting in an overall marrying of flavours.
- Three years: A wait of three years in a controlled storage environment results in rich, subtle layers of flavour that are the result of a combination of complex chemical processes.
- More than three years: Known as ‘laying down a cigar’ in European countries, this practice is time-honored among aficionados and results in cigars with rich, rewarding flavour profiles (provided it was properly stored of course).
What about the cello wrapper? On or off?
The answer to this question depends on how you store your stogies. Are you aging a variety of cigars in a humidor without compartments? Leave the wrapper on to ensure that there are no unwanted flavour exchanges. Do you age your special sticks alongside your daily smokes? Ditto – every time you open your humidor you expose your cigars to outside air that can affect the essential oils in your cigars, in which case the cello wrapper acts as a barrier.
However, if you are one of those fastidious cigar smokers that balk at keeping more than two brands in the same humidor, you could safely remove the cello wrappers without fear of any unwanted results.
So there you go – the basics every new cigar smoker should know about storing and aging great cigars. Would you like to know more about leaving cigars to age in humidors and keep up to date with everything that’s happening in the world of cigars? Keep an eye on The Stash blog – our team of cigar aficionados have their collective ear on the ground and are at the ready to keep you informed of all things stogie.