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Article updated July, 31, 2023
For many aficionados, including myself, the most enjoyable aspect of being a cigar enthusiast is maintaining a well-aged cigar collection. There is nothing more satisfying than revisiting a favorite blend you set aside for years, remembering its original characteristics, and experiencing its improvement over time. And more so, the amount of satisfaction you gain from realizing you properly aged your cigars is beyond words, especially when you hand one of your prized premiums to a fellow enthusiast who then praises your efforts.
I love to age cigars because when I light up a cigar I haven’t experienced in a long while, it reminds me of special occasions, specific people, and other fond memories from the day or place where I first encountered the blend. Plus, they often taste better with age. So, if you’ve been toying around with the idea of aging cigars but simply haven’t done so yet, here’s some advice to get your journey started.
In addition to my main humidor, I maintain a secondary humidor strictly for aging. Why? When aging cigars, you want them to remain relatively undisturbed. Having a second humidor strictly for aging means you can rest your cigars inside, set the proper relative humidity, and not have to worry about disrupting the aging process when you’d like to light up a cigar – your everyday blends will be maintained in your other humidor. For my aging humidor, I picked one made of solid Spanish cedar wood because I enjoy the extra cedar aroma and nuances which will be imparted onto my premiums over time. This is a personal preference, of course, so you don’t necessarily need a cedar-lined humidor, but your aging humidor should be made of wood – not plastic or metal.
Now that you set aside a secondary humidor for aging, what do you do? First, season your humidor like you would any other humidor. Once seasoned, determine if you want to age your cigars in cellophane or not. (Personally, I age my cigars naked.) Cellophane won’t hinder the aging process, but it will slow it down. I know many enthusiasts who age their cigars in cellophane, but they push the feet of their cigars out of the cello to ensure the cigar is properly exposed to the overall environment. The choice is up to you, and if you want to dive further into the cellophane debate, feel free to read our article Cellophane: The Great Debate.
Once you make your decision, place your cigars inside your humidor and make sure your humidity levels are at a steady RH of 64% to 67%. If you have a humidor big enough to store full cigar boxes, you can simply place the entire box of cigars inside – like cellophane, cigar boxes won’t hinder the process, either.
Next, you need to ask yourself, “How long do I age my cigars and how do I maintain them over a long period of time?” You should age your prized premiums for at least eight months to one year. However, you can age your cigars for even longer if you wish to truly experience the evolution of its tobaccos over time. If you think it may be difficult to age a cigar for a year, imagine aging them for over 100 years. Yes, it is possible, and some aficionados have cigar collections they’ve been aging for centuries – cigars that have been passed down from generation to generation. In fact, you can visit our one and only CIGAR.com Luxury Collection, where we showcase cigars rolled as early as 1868, all properly aged since their inception and still in perfect, smokable condition.
To maintain your aging cigars over a long period of time, it is important to rotate them every three months. Take the cigars from the bottom of the humidor and put them on the top and vice versa. You want to make sure every cigar receives an even distribution of humidity. You can’t achieve this goal without rotation. In addition, you should give each premium a gentle squeeze before returning it to your humidor: you’ll also be able to tell if the cigars need more or less humidity by the way they feel. Finally, you’ll want to check the humidity level monthly and ensure your cigars are in an appropriately humidified environment with little fluctuation.
Keep in mind, there are a few things to consider when choosing which cigars to age. Not all cigars are ideal for long-term aging, but you can still age any that you prefer. Most enthusiasts elect to age stronger blends rather than more mellow options, as the latter stands to lose some of their flavor during long-term aging, becoming too refined. At the end of the day, it’s all up to your personal preferences.
Personally, I age similar blends together: Connecticut’s with other Connecticuts, Maduros with Maduros, and Habanos with Habanos, etc. I also date my boxes and keep a spreadsheet with my rotation schedule. Aging cigars properly does take some time and effort, but the result leaves you with a rewarding experience that words can’t define!
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