Aging Your Cigars
Aging your cigars--why and when
Aging your cigars is exactly what the name suggests--you put your cigars away for a certain period of time and let them rest, undisturbed, while they continue to evolve and mature. It could be a couple of weeks, it could be a couple of months, and maybe even longer. A year isn’t uncommon, and some cigars can be put away for years and result in magnificent smokes.
Some cigar lovers feel that aging cigars for a certain period of time after they’re purchased is an essential step in their evolution. Others have a hard time putting cigars away for any length of time, expect the smokes they buy to be correctly aged and enjoyable at the time of purchase or very soon after, and make their cigar choices based on this factor. Some cigars are definitely ready to smoke right when you buy them. But just about every cigar can be an even better smoke with a little aging, as long as it’s done right, which means keeping them in the proper environment.
Because cigars change over time, they’ll naturally continue to age and mature when they’re in your possession, no matter how long you have them. This means they should always be stored in optimum conditions--a steady environment of between 70 to 72 percent humidity, and between 68 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This will allow them to reach their fullest potential for however long they’re in your possession.
Fullest potential, however, is somewhat relative. It varies between cigars, and certain tobaccos--and certain cigars--yield better results when aged than others. Some will hit a peak after a period of time and stay there; others might continue to improve or even worsen over time. Again, maintaining a proper environment will let them become their very best, whatever it may be.
Cigars with bigger ring-gauges are typically good candidates for aging; both their size and the greater variety of the tobacco leaves they contain are particularly suited for this process. Cigars in maduro wrappers, on the other hand, typically aren’t good candidates. Remember that the majority of a cigar’s taste comes from its wrapper. Cigars with maduro wrappers have pretty much aged as much as they’re going to thanks to the process that creates these wrappers.
How do you know if you should age your cigars, and for how long? If it’s a type or brand that you haven’t smoked before, see what you can find out about it online. There might be recommendations in the description of the cigar, and other smokers might have weighed in on it via product reviews or message boards. If you’ve bought a box, smoke one and see what you think. It should match your expectations, in looks and feel as well as in how it smokes. If it doesn’t, put the rest away and let them get some age on them. Chances are, you’ll be very glad you did.
You can age your cigars right in the box you bought them in, and doing so can be a very good idea if you want the cigars to maintain the characteristics they came with and not take on any others, like they might do if you mixed them up with others in a humidor. Just seal up the box (if you’ve opened it), and put it away in a dark, cool place. The cigars will be fine in their box as slightly lower temperatures and humidity levels work well for aging.