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Stogie Tips: Do Cigars Get Better With Age?

4 Sep 2008

When many of us pull a cigar from the humidor after six or eight months, we think of it as having some age. But for most connoisseurs of aged cigars, sticks at that stage have barely begun to get settled.

Some serious smokers wouldn’t dream of lighting up a cigar that hasn’t been set aside at least a few years; others smoke fresh and aged cigars. The one thing you can count on in any discussion about aging is that there’s little agreement and lots of personal preference.

My own experience with aging cigars is fairly limited. Most of my aging occurs more by accident than design. Other than a few sticks I’ve been holding for five or six years, the older cigars in my humidor usually result from just not getting around to smoking them in a timely fashion. Consequently, I have quite a few that have six to 18 months of age and some a little older. For example, I’m still working my way through a box of Toraño Exodus 1959 Silver Editions I’ve had for at least a couple of years. To me, they’re as tasty now as the day I smoked the first one, maybe even a bit smoother.

If you’re considering serious cigar aging, I can pass along a little advice I’ve garnered conversing with some top collectors:

1) Be sure your humidor setup is accurate, and monitor it carefully. Many connoisseurs store cigars at temperatures in the 60°-65°F range to limit the possibility of beetle infestation, and they keep the humidity below 70 percent. I think the most important factor is long-term consistency.

2) Commit to boxes. It’s obviously expensive, but you eliminate the possibility of flavors from different cigars merging, and you can try a stick periodically to check progress.

3) Don’t expect every aged cigar to be a sublime smoke. Sometimes, you’ll find the stick is no better—or even worse—than when you bought it.

4) There’s some agreement, though it’s by no means universal, that stronger cigars tend to age better and that moderate ring gauges do better as well.

In an upcoming Cigar Insider, I’ll talk with Doc Stogie of Stogie Fresh, who does extensive reviewing to evaluate the effect of aging on the cigars he rates.

George E

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10 Responses to “Stogie Tips: Do Cigars Get Better With Age?”

  1. Patrick S Wednesday, September 3, 2008 at 11:52 pm #

    Excellent tips George… just to build on point number 3:

    Remember, no amount of aging will make a bad cigar good… a dog rocket with 10 years of age is just an old bad cigar.

  2. Jon N. Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 4:49 am #

    The general rule with aging wines is that the fuller and more tannin-heavy a wine is, the more age it requires to attain perfection and thus, the better it is for aging in general. Full-bodied reds age better than lighter whites, etc. In general, too, higher quality wines age better than wines of inferior quality.

    Unfortunately, there is no direct correlation between the tannins in wines and the tobacco in cigars. So there's still a great deal of disagreement as to which cigars should or should not be aged over the long term (and for discussion purposes, let's consider "long term" to be anything beyond 2 years). Intuitively, I'd assume that fuller-bodied cigars age better than milder cigars, as the flavors in any cigar will tend to mellow with the passing of time.

    However, as I've written about before, I don't conflate the issues of body and quality. They are two distinct categories. A top-quality mild stick will probably be a better candidate for aging than a full-bodied dog rocket. But I think that a top-quality full is a better candidate for aging than a top-quality mild or medium — if only because of the flavor-mellowing properties of long term aging.

  3. Padronnie Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 12:05 pm #

    wine will eventually go bad (turn to vinegar), no matter how well it aged up until that point… is it the same for cigars?

  4. George E. Thursday, September 4, 2008 at 12:10 pm #

    I believe that cigars can be aged too long and lose much, if not nearly all, of their flavor. That's why periodically smoking them throughout the aging process is necessary. You'll be able to tell when they are beginning to lose too much flavor.

  5. Mike H in Kingsville Saturday, May 10, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    Another note here too- I was reading that it is OK to age in the plastic wrapper inside of the humidor. Not so. I had a few in long term parking with the wrappers on, and the foot was fine but the cap was beginning to dry out.

    My advice is to take the plastic off and let them mellow.

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