Remember when you were a kid, and Grandpa had that glass canning jar on the top of his desk, where a few stogies sat waiting patiently? Boy, aren’t we glad humidor engineering has evolved.
When compared to that rusty-lidded Mason jar of a cigar storage unit, the properly seasoned, calibrated, and humidified cigar humidor box options at our disposal today are mind blowingly advanced. There’s a damn good reason for all of this too.
As the cigar market has changed, so too have the tastes of those who indulge in premium long-filler fermented tobacco. Buying cigars by the box is still very much a thing, but with the advent of the online monthly cigar membership, bespoke collectives of kick-ass cigar types has caused an even more intense interest in humidor care.
But there’s more to this scenario than just cramming a handful of premium cigar blends into a humidor box with a splash of Spanish cedar spills stuffed inside. Hell, there’s way more to the equation than a humidification device spewing out sticky air, and a properly calibrated hygrometer keeping an eye on it all.
It’s time to get the skinny on what is required to keep those smokes in peak form over the long draw. While we are at it we might as well talk about knowing when it’s prime time to fire that vintage cigar up. For like red wine and Russian Imperial Stouts, there is such a thing as entirely too much age.
With Age Comes Smoothness… Eventually
Aging takes place within every stage of a cigar’s lifespan. From choosing when to pick (aka prime) the leaves from the tobacco plant, to hanging the cuttings out to dry, followed by fermentation, secondary curing, and post-production aging, cigars are all about taking it slow.
From a production standpoint, aging and fermentation help refine the tobacco leaves, regardless of whether they may be of the long-filler, binder, or cigar wrapper variety. From a few months of aging for lighter colored Claro cigars, to bourbon barrel-aged stogies and sherry cask conditioned Maduro cigar wrapper alternatives that sit for years on end, there is no limit to what can be accomplished.
Nowhere is this more present than in stronger sun-grown Ligero tobacco leaves. All of those unfiltered resins, oils, sugars, and nicotine content levels enhanced by our solar system’s only star evolve into a far more manageable experience once allowed to simmer down for a while.
Tobacco Nerd Note: As a certain cigar type ages, the blend of tobaccos that concoct its physical structure begin to formulate their own cigar flavor profile. This act of amalgamation can be achieved at any point post-production and is one of the primary reasons why we age our cigars. That, and the fact that as tobacco ages, impurities, harsh flavors, nicotine intensity levels, and bitterness all tend to dissipate.
Select Your Cigar Test Subjects Wisely
For serious tobacco snobs and seasoned connoisseurs, the act of “box aging” is the best way to get a little extra vintage on a certain cigar type or style of smoke.
Unfortunately for us peasants, this methodology often remains completely out of reach both financially and storage space wise. So unless you have the means of building a private walk-in humidor, this sort of expensive endeavor is out of the question.
But that’s not to say that you cannot age cigars individually on a much smaller scale, which last we checked was why you were here in the first place.
Just keep the following stogie styles in mind when it comes time to purchase a 5-pack of a particular cigar type from Klaro Cigars, and you’ll be golden.
- Very rarely is aging a mild, light-colored cigar type a wise decision. Save the extended aging for darker Maduro, Colorado, Corojo, and other more opaque cigar wrapper selections.
- Full-strength cigars often benefit the most from a little “simmer-down time,” and often evolve into outstanding medium-full smokes once given the chance to age for an additional year or two.
- Larger ring-gauge cigar types typically age quite well. Thick cigars contain more tobacco, and being that premium cigar blends are the preferred form of production, complexity is a strong suit for fat cigars.
Tobacco Nerd Note: The best way to tell if an aged cigar is your cup of nicotine is to purchase a bunch of the same robust smoke and fire one up at your earliest convenience. Then, place the remaining duplicates in your personal humidor. After a couple of months, pull out a stogie and give it a shot. Repeat the process every other month. With a little luck and some careful assessment, you should be able to ascertain whether the aging process has made the cigar taste and burn better.
The Act of Aging Gracefully
As for the actual storage process itself, having the right humidor setup is essential. And it all starts with proper humidity and temperature calibrations.
While the old “70/70” rule is widely used for short-term cigar storage, lengthier endeavors require lower levels of both humidity and heat. Anything cigars you plan on aging beyond a year should be exposed to 63-65% RH (relative humidity) and 63-65°F for the vast duration of the aging process.
You will also need to bear in mind what selection of cigar type offerings you will be aging long-term. As a selectively permeable organic product, premium cigar blends both exude and absorb what is around them. So keep that in mind if you plan on plopping a sticky sweet, rum-cask conditioned Maduro cigar wrapper next to a spicy Colorado Rosado Ligero.
Maintaining an adequate amount of breathing room is also essential, as allowing cigars to breathe is very important. Having a humidor box with twice as much space inside as necessary is a good rule of thumb to follow here, as it aids in both ventilation and access.
Having a humidor that’s been internally constructed from solid Spanish cedar is never a bad idea either. Not only does Spanish cedar smell divine and repel insects, but it also breathes well and therefore helps absorb any sudden fluctuations in temperature or humidity. This all-natural wood also tends to impart a distinct aroma and cigar flavor profile over time, which for many tobacco enthusiasts, is extremely pleasurable.
For more on this last topic, head on over to the blog section of Case Elegance, where our sister site will teach you everything you need to know about humidor setup, care, modification, and more…
Long-Term Cigar Care
As for the actual act of extending the age of your cigar test subjects, keeping a watchful eye out for any potential issues, and staying on top of your humidor maintenance routine is the name of the game.
So don’t be a lazy-assed cigar smoker. Keep that hygrometer and temp gauge in sight as you stay on top of your routine media rehydration refills and cigar rotation schedule. And yes, if you are dealing with larger stick counts, it’s not a bad idea to rotate your cigar stock to keep things evenly distributed in the humidity department.
Alternatively, you could also move your humidification device(s) around, one of the primary perks to humidor packs, gel tubes, and other forms of moisture-rich media. This will not only guarantee that a certain smoke isn’t getting too much or too little humidity, but the hands-on time will allow you to inspect the condition of each cigar you are aging.
Knowing when to light a cigar is just as important as putting a little extra age on it to help smooth out the edges. So stick with either a monthly or bi-weekly rotation and inspection routine if you can and don’t hesitate to light up anything that looks, feels, and smells ripe for smoking.
While you are in there, make sure that stogies with conflicting cigar flavor profiles are not sitting next to one another, and test your hygrometer for recalibration on a bi-annual basis.
Perhaps the biggest thing to keep in mind when aging cigars beyond a year or two is that spikes and drops in temperature and humidity are your biggest concern.
Fluctuations of significant amounts to either can cause even the most meticulously crafted long-filler cigar to deteriorate, so invest in a good humidor and stay up on that maintenance routine.
But that’s not to say that anyone really needs to age a cigar for prolonged periods of time. Both legacy cigar manufacturers and boutique brands alike age their cigars to what is considered to be ideal cigar smoking vintages.
There’s a reason why smoking “fresh” cigars has and will always be the norm, as it is a master blender’s job to know precisely when a certain premium cigar blend has reached peak potential.
However, if you are like most of us humidor nerds, aging a select few cigar test subjects well beyond their optimum smoking window is always an intriguing endeavor.
Just remember that here at Klaro Cigars, we only ship cigars that are in their prime, so be sure to hit us up if you have any vintage related questions, and happy aging!