Cigar Commentary: Resting Versus Aging cigars

Sometimes, when I go out, I’m at an event where there is a cigar roller who is rolling fresh cigars. I’m always fascinated by it because I get to experience, first-hand, a bit of what it takes to create a hand-rolled cigar.

I just hesitate a bit before I light up a freshly rolled cigar. Here are my thoughts about smoking it on the spot: On the one hand, cigar rollers can simply be mesmerizing. It’s pretty cool to be able to see the bunch, and to inspect the wrapper. It’s almost like participating in the factory rollers’ culture. Lighting up a stick right off the bench is a great way to experience what the rollers can often experience when they’re working. My cigar roller friend also says that when you smoke one off the bench, there’s a certain freshness that is quite enjoyable.

But on the other hand, I know that just-rolled cigars can have burn/draw issues. The wrappers on these cigars have to be sufficiently moist before they are applied on to the cigar, so there still may be excessive moisture in these cigars.

Giving them some time to rest in a properly maintained humidor may take some of this excess moisture out and round out the smoking experience. The same goes for cigars purchased through your cigar shop or an online retailer. Of course, the cigars should have been kept in ideal conditions (about 70% humidity at 70 degrees).  And at a cigar lounge, the cigars offered there  should be good for a cut and light right off the shelf. But if you don’t smoke those cigars right away, the cigars may be exposed to non-ideal conditions while traveling from humidor to humidor. For me, a nice two-week rest in a properly maintained humidor should be enough to ensure that the cigars are in optimum smoking condition.  Manufacturers of premium cigars typically let their cigars rest a little while after they’re rolled.

Aging cigars is a whole other thing. While resting cigars is all about  evening out the moisture level of cigars so that the cigar performs well (burns and smokes), aging cigars puts a focus on the improving the flavors of the cigar over time. When a cigar is properly aged, the oils within the cigar have a chance to ‘marry’ thereby allowing the flavors of the different tobaccos in the cigar to merge and ease into a more balanced  smoke.

Manufacturers often say that their cigars are ready to smoke immediately after they’re rested and do not need any additional age. That makes sense because manufacturers don’t want to be in a position of housing additional inventory and aging smokeable cigars. In my case, I find that resting and aging cigars can improve some smokes, especially the fuller flavored cigars. More often than not, aging these cigars will yield significantly mellower smoking experiences- but I can’t guarantee that. Heck, if you have the time and self-control, it would make a great experiment.

So how long do you let your cigars rest once you get them back from your local shop? And what is the oldest cigar in your humidor? Comments below.