How to Age Cigars
There are a couple of different schools of thought when it comes to the aging of cigars. Some people believe a good cigar should be delivered ready to enjoy, and that you shouldn’t have to age it to make it better. While we don’t necessarily disagree with this, we tend to embrace a more all-encompassing method of ensuring great tasting cigars.
- Regardless of what humidity and temperature you choose, keep it consistent and don’t expose your cigars to dramatic temperature or humidity changes within short periods of time.
- If you store your cigars at home, don’t turn off your heat or A/C when you travel.
- Keep fresh Boveda packs, or humidification at all times.
- If you’re storing or aging cigars from Cuba or other foreign countries, keep them separated and never let them get warm or wet. You might even consider a separate humidor for these purchases. Most cigars imported into the U.S. have been frozen to help prevent tobacco beetles, but Cuban cigars and those purchased from local rollers likely haven’t gone through this process. Since beetles hatch in warm and high-humidity environments, this can present a major problem. If you’ve never seen the damage beetles can do to a collection of expensive cigars, trust us, you don’t want to. Unfortunately, this happens frequently and we’ve seen it—all the more reason to warn you to keep these cigars separate.
Some of the most respectable cigar manufacturers around invest a whole lot of time and money in ensuring their cigars are ready to enjoy right off the retail shelf by bringing them to market already aged. Most premium offerings have their tobaccos aged for several years prior to being rolled, and they even add a secondary post-roll aging period of several months. We’ll cover this more in depth sometime in the future.
That being said, a lot of people treat their cigars like wine and put them through additional aging after purchasing them. In most cases, the cigars improve in taste, become slightly smoother and sometime even more complex. If you fall into this category or want to experiment, here are some tips and tricks to getting the most out of your post-retail aging process.
How Long Can You Age a Cigar?
The answer to this question varies from one cigar to another, but a good rule of thumb is around 10 years. Milder cigars may age out a little sooner, but the more full-bodied offerings with oily tobaccos tend to improve in flavor when you age them for longer periods of time.
How to Test if Your Cigars Have Aged Enough
When I age a box of cigars, I like to smoke one every six months or so. When I do, I tend to notice very subtle improvements with each smoking experience. At some point, though, I eventually begin to notice the cigar flavor mellowing out. As soon as I hit that point, I pull the box and enjoy the cigars. For fun, here’s a link to a video where I smoked a cigar from the 1050s. As in 1050 A.D.
How to Store Cigars for Aging
In a perfect world, all cigars would be aged in a cedar-lined room or a dedicated humidor. If you put cigars into a cedar box, you can store them in an airtight container like an ice chest—but the most important thing to remember is to achieve the perfect level of humidity and temperature. Go with what I call the 70/70 rule: General guidelines state humidity should be 70 percent, and temperature should be 70 degrees. Having said that, I let my fuller-bodied cigars rest (age) at a slightly lower humidity and temperature—about 65 percent humidity and 65 degrees. This is simply my preference, and I came upon it simply by experimentation. Try experimenting yourself to see if you can find your own preference.