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Beginners Guide to Aging Cigars

Beginners Guide to Aging Cigars

By Pierre Rogers December 14, 2015
Aging cigars can be an intimidating concept and you certainly don't need to be a rich guy with hundreds of cigars to start. 
 
Premium and rolled cigars are luxury items and should be treated as such.  Cigars are very delicate (anything made from dried leaves would be, right?), hydroscopic in nature and draw water and pretty much anything to them. With this in mind, use only distilled water in your humidor, smoking a cigar that has been exposed to anything else is downright nasty. 
 
Cellophane or No?  I'm often asked if removing the cellophane off the cigar prior to storing in a humidor is necessary. Short answer: leave it on. Cellophane provides a breathable layer of protection for the cigars' very delicate wrapper.  It has no ill effects on the aging process and will help protect your cigar as it gets bumped and jostled in your humidor.  On a side note, I love watching the cellophane yellow over time. 
 
I know that when you purchase cigars, you want to smoke them right away, so do I. Fight the urge and lay those babies down to rest for a few months, 60 days minimum. I give all new purchases 6 months in my humidor before I crack into them.  This allows the cigars to “settle” which is a process where the cigar normalizes to the relative humidity and temperature (assuming that your humidor is an optimal 68% humidity and 70 degrees). If you consistently allow time for your cigars to settle, there will be fewer burn and draw issues.  Be vigilant at keeping your humidor environment at the perfect conditions. Cigars can plugged (filler has swollen insdie the binder casing, causing blockage) because the humidity is too high. 
 
Longer term aging: If you have the patience for aging your cigars a few months, push that timeline to 3 to 5 years.  While there is no hard rule to how long it takes for cigars to fully expel the naturally occurring ammonia, 3-5 years seems to be a magic potion of sorts. Ammonia is a naturally occurring byproduct of the fermentation process.  The ammonia will cause a harsh, sometimes bitter taste.  Pro Tip: stick your face in the box of cigars, breath through your nose and mouth simultaneously,  if you sense any sharpness on the inside of your nose, ammonia is lingering.  Once the ammonia has dissipated the subtleties and subtext of the cigar can be easily experienced.
 
Your cigars will taste and smoke significantly better, if you age them for 3-5 years. I promise.  Once you start smoking aged cigars, you may never go back!

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