Like fine wine, quality cigars get better with age and cigar enthusiasts who have had the opportunity to taste a matured piece that has hit its paramount flavor will concur. In fact, serious followers of the cigar smoking heritage would never dare to light one, if it hasn’t been set aside for at least a few years in a quality humidor. However whether or not you choose to age a cigar is a matter of personal choice and the aging process plus the benefits derived from the process will vary from one cigar to the next.
Why do cigars need to be aged?
All plant matter transitions into various stages over time and cigars which are made from tobacco (plant matter) do change, sometimes for the better or worse. This simply means that when cigars are ‘over-aged,’ they tend to lose their quality. To get an insight on the aging process and its benefits, you will first have to know a little about cigar production.
Cigars imported from the Caribbean region are basically intended to taste good as soon as they hit the shelves. The premium pieces are usually made from considerably aged tobacco at its prime which likely has been stored in bales for more than two years. The impeccable handling process also entails curing the tobacco to enhance its fermentation stages. Once the tobacco is fine and ready, it is rolled into cigar sticks which then receive another three months rest in aging compartments.
Since the cigars are made from plant matter, the pieces will continue to mature and evolve over time during their storage, hence losing all the meaningless by-products of the fermentation stage. The aging process which can also be referred to as micro-fermentation is however at a lower level compared to factory fermentation. It is an important stage that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
It is important to note that by-products from the fermentation process in the factory can deter a cigar from achieving its best flavor. Compounds such as ammonia among others will make a cigar’s taste acrid giving it an unpleasant flavor that isn’t quite of standard preference. To further break it down, cigars get mellow and subtle over time owed to the removal of these chemicals.
Another benefit you stand from storing your cigar in a humidor is that the moisture in left in the leaves usually shifts evenly across the leaves hence giving it a uniform and consistent taste. Besides this, the even distribution is also important in facilitating an even burn; the perfect combo that defines quality. In essence, the mellow aspect of the aging process makes the cigars smooth and rich. The basic fact remains that the leaves in your cigars will undergo gradual and continuous change as they age in a humidor which is a good thing.
Making the most out of the aging process:
In cigars, it is always about the complexity pinned to identifying the rich flavors derived from the superbly matured leaves. It therefore goes without saying that you can never completely predict how well a cigar will age. It is best left to the individual smoker and his preference to know whether a cigar has come of age or not. It is of paramount importance to know that the aging process basically revolves around two factors; patience and timing.
Aging your cigars will indeed require long-term commitment and great patience. The aging may take years ranging to the span of decades to attain its prime smoking condition. To note the significant changes in aging, purchase a box of cigars then smoke them at intervals of six months. You will realize that there is a significant difference in the taste of the similar cigar sticks from the same batch.
As you age your cigars, there are a few basics that you should equip yourself with. To begin with, remember to always configure your humidor to 70% humidity or less. Low humidity levels allow the flavors to concentrate and even up. Also remember to always keep your cigars away from oxygen as much as possible. When this happens, oxidation takes place hence speeding up the aging process. In conclusion, aging cigars is clearly beneficial, but how you do it counts.