Cigar Commentary: Resting Versus Aging cigars

Hand_roll_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.




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  • Ron Steele

    I try for about 2 weeks for most smokes to rest before trying(from online purchases). Though for some I have needed to wait 2-3 month’s due to excessive dryness upon receiving. Purchases from local b&m I give just a few days on average(except for the one I smoke driving home!). Oldest smokes in humidor are about 1 year.

  • Swede214

    Hi Edward, I found this commentary very interesting, I have been back to smoking cigars for about two years. Have learned quiet a lot about”cigars”. This was very interesting to read, I have learned a lot these two years. Thanks for your article.

  • Cigar Shmoker

    New cigars, at least 1 is often smoked within hours if not a few days of attaining.
    Most often cigars are stored for aging.
    Many cigars in humidors are between 3-5 years old.
    Oldest is some Opus and other full body cigars such as Ashton VSG that are more than 10 years old.

  • http://www.meetup.com/Southside-Cigar-Club/ Vic

    Edward,
    From online procurements and B&M cigar events, I rest them for 14 to 21 days. I have a few humidors just for aging and they range from 1 to 3 years cigars in them. I several Cubans that are over seven years old.
    Vic

  • http://www.twitter.com/leo_botl C Bradley

    I always buy in new cigars in at least dbls. One I smoke within a week and the others are at least a month so I can compare. My oldest cigar is only 7 months old (Romeo and Julieta Rothchilde) not my favorite so its lasted LOL.

  • ROTHNH

    I believe the following is a rather sweeping generalization that only approximates the facts on the subject at hand:

    “… 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.”

    While storing cigars at 65-72 degrees F. is fine, the reality is the ideal storage RH & ambient temperature varies from 64% RH to 70% RH depending on the actual cigar and the preferences of the smoker … most experienced cigar smokers seem to prefer the lower end of the 66%-68% RH spectrum and 70% is considered too high. Unfortunately, 70% RH is actually not ideal yet a number of on line vendors admit that their warehouses are kept at 70% RH, while many B&Ms and even some lounges store their cigars at 70% RH and 72F and I’ve seen some even higher.

    Taking the above into consideration, as for resting and aging, I agree that while it’s hard not to sample a stick right away, resting cigars 2 weeks as an absolutely minimum is a must and much better to let them rest in my own ideal environment for at least 2-3 months. The decision to age cigars and for how long is, more than anything, dependent on one’s personal choice and preferences. Personally, I’ve found that medium-full to full strength/flavor/body cigars improve the most with some age on them, but few improve (some actually deteriorate) after 5 years time. Saying aging (more than a year) improves almost all cigars, I feel, is only true when it applies to Cuban cigars.

  • Edward

    RothNH, Thanks very much for you very detailed comments. I think you’re correct in saying that ideal conditions for storing cigars is not simply “about 70% humidity and 70 degrees.” Thanks for your insights.

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