One surefire way to make your Cuban cigar smoking experience an even better one is to age your cigars.
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Aging cigars is for the true connoisseur. It’s for those not as interested in buying one cigar at a time, or even a box, to smoke right away. Aging requires patience and commitment. But it’s well worth it. It’s also a subjective process based on personal experience.
There’s no hard, set rule on how to do it properly. That includes the desired length of time to age, storage location and conditions. The most important factor is the amount of time you want to age them prior to smoking. However the storage location and conditions are things to keep in mind as well.
How do I age a Cuban cigar?
The process of aging a cigar is simply the reduction and eventual removal of ammonia from the tobacco through natural fermentation. End result? A more pleasant taste and flavour. Overall it’s a “smoother” smoking experience.
To this day, there isn’t a standard number of years a cigar has to age to be considered “aged”. But the unwritten rule of thumb is approximately five years. For a cigar to achieve a “vintage” status a minimum age of 10 years is assumed.
In my personal experience, I notice a considerable difference within two-three years of age on most cigars. But I notice an optimal smoking enjoyment after the five-seven year mark. It is often said that most cigars will reach their peak at the seven-10 year mark. They will unlikely show any significant improvement with additional years of age.
Cuban cigars: Want to better savour the experience? Don’t rush the aging process
One of the most ignored risks in aging premium cuban cigars is rushing the aging process. Exposure to an excessive amount of oxygen will cause the tobacco oils to dry out. The flavours will begin to evaporate. This is why you will notice that cigars which are not properly stored at a regulated relative humidity will dry out. They will lack flavour while burning too quickly. Smokers will want to light up. We get that. But it’s best to wait it out.
The opposite may occur if you store your Habanos with New World cigars at a higher humidity, such as 69%. This is important. It is ideal to limit the amount of oxygen in your humidor. You want to ensure that your cigars are fermenting at a slow-to-moderate range. That will support the integrity of the aging process. Bottom line, longer term, you’ll enjoy them more.
Personally, I recommend an average storage temperature of 65 degrees fahrenheit. And for optimal results, reduce the humidity from 65% to 62% after three-five years. That’s a stable aging lifecycle. I suggest smoking some of the Cuban cigars along the way to truly experience the difference in quality that comes with years of aging. Trust me, you’ll notice the difference.
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There are Habanos special release categories. These are specially selected offerings with some age already. Aging of Cuban cigars can be an important factor after they are rolled, as said. But the impact of pre-rolled aging of the chosen tobacco blends provides an unmatched uniqueness. It’s truly a premium offering for the cigar enthusiast. It simply can’t be matched after production.
Let’s start by looking at the exclusive Habanos Series and the respective aging factors:
From the launch of this product line in 2000 until 2007, Edicion Limitada wrappers were aged for two years prior to rolling. Since 2007, the filler, binder and wrapper are all aged a minimum of two years pre-production. An average of three Limited Editions come out per year.
Cuban cigars: Gran Reserva
This line is considered the premium of the Habanos special release offerings. Similar to the Reserva line, the vitolas are based on regular production sizes with a minimum of five years aged pre-production. Since the launch in 2009, there have been six total releases.
The Anejados line is the “aged” Habanos series. There is a big difference compared to the three previously mentioned exclusive series. The cigars produced in the Anejados line are aged a minimum of five years after rolling. There is no pre-production age. Between 2014 to 2019, there have been six unique vitolas released in the Anejado line.
The journey of exploring the impact of time on premium cubans is one I thoroughly enjoy. It is similar to the organic tobacco used to roll Cuban cigars. The imperfections of the natural fermentation process make the experience that much more exciting. Maybe you haven’t yet explored the product lines mentioned or regular production aged/vintage cigars. If not I invite you to start your own journey of exploration. You’ll be more than happy with the results.