Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why age your cigars after they arrive?

Here's an "age old" question for you (perhaps "age new" question would be a better term for the purposes of this post). I have often been asked why aging your cigars after purchasing them, whether it be at a neighborhood cigar store or by mail, is a common practice. One particular reader recently brought up the following good point:

"When I buy cigars, there is often a date on the box or pack that I assume is when they arrived at [the] store. These dates would indicate that the smokes have been stored (or aged) in what I assume is [a] perfectly controlled warehouse [or humidor] for months or even years before they arrive at my door. If this is the case why is it further advisable to leave them in my somewhat questionably controlled humidor before lighting up?"

Actually, the date noted on the box, at least those that show a stamped date, is the date the cigars were packaged at the factory. (Just about every phase of the growing, curing, rolling, aging, and packaging process is carefully recorded at the factory.) However, some cigar retailers place a dated-coded sticker on each cigar box to note when the inventory was received.

When the cigars are shipped from the factory, they are presumably "ready to smoke," and in most cases, they are. It depends on the cigar, too. Certainly, there's no harm in letting your cigars age further even after they arrive at your home "x" number of months/years later, since the longer a good cigar is allowed to age, often the better it will smoke. I almost always save at least three to five cigars from a given box to extra age in my humidor, while I forge ahead and smoke the majority on a regular basis.

Case in point. I just received a CAO Brazilia Samba from a friend who told me it was aging in its cello in his humidor for 4½ years. As he was handing it to me he also told me that the wrapper had darkened further over time, and that the spiciness in the cigar had quelled considerably.

Moreover, it helps to let the cigars "settle" for a short time, say, at least a week in your humidor after they arrive, because in the case of mail order cigars, travel conditions can sometimes affect the "state" of the cigars. I did a blog a while back on "First cigar out of the box?" in which I indicated that it's hard for most cigar smokers to resist opening the newly-arrived package and firing one up. If it tastes great, more power to you. If it burns a little funny or tastes a little "green" then they may need a little more time. As always, you have to judge the cigars on a box-by-box basis.

~ Gary Korb

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