While many cigar lovers consider ageing an important part of the cigar-smoking process, for many cigars, it isn’t actually necessary. So, why do people choose to age their cigars, and what are the benefits of it? We take a look at whether or not you should age your cigars.
Tobacco in Cigars is Already Aged
When premium cigars are made, blenders will have spent months, if not years, perfecting the flavours presented by the tobacco within.
The cigar’s size, tobacco types, and how long it is aged for will all be factors that have been considered by the cigar maker. By the time a cigar arrives at a retailer, it will already have been aged the amount deemed best by the cigar maker.
While some cigars will be aged for shorter or longer amounts of times than others, the tobacco’s journey from harvest to finished cigar takes around three years on average, but some premium cigar makers may keep their tobacco ageing for up to ten years!
After this aged tobacco is rolled into a cigar, the finished cigar will be left in an ageing room for a minimum of three months, allowing for further ageing.
Why Do People Age Cigars?
There are a number of reasons why people choose to age their cigars, while some have nothing to do with improving the cigar; other reasons can have an effect on the cigar’s flavour.
Too Many Cigars
While owning “too many” cigars is by no means a problem (quite the opposite, in our cigar-loving eyes), it is not always possible to smoke your whole collection at once, especially when you’ve bought a big box.
This leads to a sort of default ageing process, whereby your cigars are aged regardless of whether you want them to be or not as you simply cannot smoke them fast enough!
Seeing How the Flavours Develop
Having purchased a larger box of cigars, some cigar lovers decide that they would like to play a little experiment with them.
The cigars can be separated up and stored in a humidor – some to smoke immediately, some to smoke in 6 months, some in a year, some in five, and so on. For those who love tasting sessions, ageing cigars is great fun, as you can experience your cigar’s flavours transform and develop over time.
Wanting to experience the changing taste of a type of cigar over the years is a common interest for many cigar lovers, and adds a bit more fun to owning a big box of cigars.
Changes In Cigar Flavour Over Time
Over time, cigars start to lose moisture, which makes them burn more easily. In turn, the cigars taste less bitter, tannic and harsh, presenting sweeter, less acidic notes. The flavours can blend together and present a more balanced cigar.
As ageing makes cigars milder, the process is best suited to stronger, full-bodied cigars. It can be better to smoke a mild cigar sooner after you get it.
Misconception That You Need to Age Cigars
Cigar smokers love to share their cigar stories with other smokers, making recommendations of their favourite stogies or providing helpful tips to make the smoking experience better.
A common rumour spread between cigar lovers is that you should age your cigars to make them better. When you are starting out in the cigar smoking world, you are likely to listen to the more experienced when looking for the best ways to enjoy your smoke.
While some cigars will be improved by ageing, it is important to know that it is not essential to age every cigar you buy – the majority will be ready to smoke when sold!
The Cigar Could Use More Ageing
While most cigars will only be sold when the manufacturers deem them perfect and ready for the world, some are released with an intentionally ‘young’ taste.
Some love this fresher flavour, but for others, the taste of aged tobacco provides a richer and more aromatic experience. In this instance, then ageing your cigars can actually serve a purpose, helping to develop the flavours a little more.
When cigars are rolled, the tobacco leaves are moistened, which triggers them to ferment and produce ammonia. After rolling, premium cigars tend to be aged to help them lose any hints of ammonia.
A couple of months after rolling around 90% of the ammonia will have dissipated. A year after rolling, 95-99% of the ammonia smell will be gone.
Some cigar lovers choose to age their cigars a little longer once they get them home to ensure that any hints of ammonia are gone.
Should You Age Your Cigars?
Ultimately, the answer to this question is more down to personal preference. Ageing cigars can help to smooth out the flavours of your smoke, but ultimately, if a cigar is bad, it won’t get better, no matter how long you leave it!
Popping your cigars in your humidor for a week or month after purchasing can be a good idea to ensure that they are the right level of humidity for ideal smoking conditions, but longer-term ageing isn’t strictly necessary.
If you have too many cigars to smoke at once, or would like to explore how flavours develop, then there is no harm in ageing your collection.
If you decide to age your cigars, then make sure that you know how to age your cigars properly, ensuring that your humidor remains at the right, consistent level of humidity.