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2nd September 2017Aging Cigars: Everything You Need To Know
Cigars are evolutionary objects that can offer a depth and complexity of flavours unlike anything you can consume. Aging your own cigars is a great way to save money and, if it’s done right, you’ll enjoy the tender caress of complex smoke on your tongue for a fraction of the price.
How long do I need to leave it to age?
It is up to your own personal preference how long you choose to let your cigars age. The longer you leave it the more abundantly complex the flavours. That said, it is recommended, to get the most out of the process, to age your cigars for at least a year before smoking.
Which cigars are best to age?
The larger the cigar, the better the structure for ageing. The thickness of a cigar generally points towards a wider variety of tobacco used within the casing; therefore, the longer you rest it, the more complex the flavour will become. Larger ring-gauge cigars also hold the benefit of being more resistant to the outside environment, meaning that they will be less affected if temperatures and humidity varies.
Are there certain cigars that shouldn’t be aged?
There are some cigars that won’t see much improvement with age. Low-quality cigars won’t benefit from time in the humidor. Unfortunately, low quality is low quality. To try to age a low-quality cigar would be like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The situation ain’t improving no matter what you do! Low quality is a lost cause.
There are, however, also some quality cigars that won’t alter much with age. Cigars wrapped in Maduro wrappers fall into this category. These cigars get the majority of their taste from the wrapper itself as it is artificially “baked” and cured to get its dark hue and distinctively rich, saccharine flavour. This essentially means that the flavour is fixed, so ageing these cigars reaps no rewards.
How do I age my cigars?
Ageing a cigar is much more than just sticking it on the shelf and waiting for a rainy day. There is much more to it and it all begins with the environment in which it’s stored. It is crucial to get this right and maintaining this environment is the key to unlocking the rich, aromatic flavours. The 70-70 rule, traditionally used in the Americas, applies here. If you’re unfamiliar, the rule states that cigars should be stored at 70 degrees Fahrenheit with 70% relative humidity. This has been proven to be the most effective temperature at which to store your cigars. Too warm and they will get mouldy, too cool and it may stunt the process of ageing.
A varying temperature will cause your cigars to physically react, expanding as the heat penetrates the wrapper and contracting as the cool washes over the cigar. This disrupts the ageing process and can cause the wrappers to crack. The space in your humidor is also an important factor and should be around twice the volume of your stored cigars.
Cedar is the most conducive material to ageing when we talk about the humidor’s lining, as the wood is highly aromatic and is built of its own natural oils. These oils help in the ageing process and merge with the flavours of the cigars, increasing their complexity.