The old saying goes, “age before beauty.” Well, normally when we’re using this phrase, we’re talking about looks, but when talking about premium cigars, that saying aligns perfectly.
If you’ve ever found yourself wondering how long it takes to age a cigar to perfection or if aging a cigar makes it taste better, you’re in the right place.
What is cigar aging?
Long story short, the practice of aging cigars can embody numerous forms. Typically, the master blenders and cigar brands will age or ferment tobacco in bales after harvesting, and this can be quite the lengthy process.
Seeing as each company and each cigar has its own process, putting an exact number on how long they age tobacco is tough, but normally you’d see a range from around two years to up to even a decade.
Why age premium cigars?
There’s no question that premium, hand rolled cigars need to be aged. And not only during the curing process, we’re talking after they are rolled and sold to us.
The thing to understand is, for almost every premium cigar produced, the cigar artisans are already aging the tobacco for an extended period of time before it is actually rolled into that cigar you’re enjoying.
However, there’s another step to the aging process. Once the cigar is rolled and packaged into its box, the assortment of the wrapper, binder, and filler tobaccos will begin to mingle and exchange flavor nuances. This will give way to a more consistent burn, flavor profile, and aroma.
In addition to that, your cigars will begin the process of purging any impurities that can distort the master blender’s intended outcome.
Certain cigar aficionados will age their premium stogies in their cigar boxes inside of a humidor, sometimes for months, sometimes for years, and even sometimes for decades.
Cigars will transform their taste and aroma as they age.
Cigar tobacco is an organic, living, breathing, and continuously changing material, and they’re constantly fermenting whether you like it or not. Because of this, your cigars may undergo many changes throughout the years.
- A well-aged cigar will burn better
- A well-aged cigar will bring out different flavors that aren’t detectable in younger cigars
- A well-aged cigar will limit imperfections and decrease harshness
Do take into account, just like drink pairings, the amount of time you age your cigars is a matter of personal preference. Age them as long or as short as you wish.
The larger the ring gauge, the better it’ll age.
Normally, the thicker or bigger the cigar’s ring gauge, the more tobacco that’s hidden from outside elements, and this could allow you to age these cigars for longer periods of time.
Do note, since a cigar’s wrapper normally gives way to the majority of a cigar's taste, aging cigars wrapped in Maduro leaves may not affect the taste as much as other wrapper tobacco.
How long can you age a cigar?
This really depends on the cigar and on your personal preferences for taste, body, and aroma. Typically, when you age a cigar for a few weeks to a month, you’ll find the taste beginning to transform in minimal amounts, whereas if you were to age a cigar for a year, the flavor profile would begin to drastically change.
Purchase a box of cigars you know you love. Smoke one without any additional aging and then take notes as to what you tasted and why you enjoyed it.
Then give the additional cigars some more time to age in your humidor. Think about a month or so. After that time period, give the next cigar a shot and repeat the steps. Smoke it, and write down what you experienced and if your enjoyment increased or decreased.
If you like the transitions in taste that take place, aging is providing a benefit for you. If not, smoke them right when you buy them.
How to age cigars like a master.
Follow these simple steps and you should be aging your own cigars like a true aficionado in no time.
- Use a proper humidor with authentic Spanish cedar shelves
- Season your humidor
- Keep humidity between the optimum levels - think the 70-70 rule
- Rotate your cigars. Think in spans of around 3 months. For large humidors with multiple levels, rotate those shelves from top to bottom.
- Make sure you’re free of tobacco beetles
Remember, age before beauty!
When it’s all said and done, aging a premium cigar is all about finding the right amount of time that matches what you personally enjoy. If you have any questions or tips around cigar aging, we’d love to hear them in the comments!