Best Cigars To Age-Cigar.com February 2012

Alex, upon receiving your current catalog, I was intrigued by your article on aging cigars. I’ve been smoking cigars since the 1980’s, and have experimented extensively on the long term effects of aging cigars, ranging from post embargo cigars from the Canary Islands, Jamaica and Mexico to the current brands of today. Before I had even read your article, I had incorrectly assumed that your selection would be based on mostly stronger Nicaraguan cigars. But my findings are very similar to yours. The only surprise I found in your 3 choices was the Camacho Diploma. On a side note, I used to smoke Camachos years ago, when they were an inexpensive line (one line only) with a mild to medium strength and a sweet cap, and nothing like the current Camacho. Out of curiosity, I purchased some Diplomas when they were first released. But unlike your article, I found them to be literally flavorless after long term aging. I found that dominantly Honduran cigars were very hit or miss, and although many smokers think of cigars like Punch or Hoyo to be Honduran cigars, they really contain a blend of leaf from several countries. What I have found (and what is the biggest surprise to most smokers), is that Nicaraguan puros (or those cigars comprised mostly of Nicaraguan leaf) are far and away the WORST cigars for long term aging. (By long term, I refer to over 10 years aging under proper conditions). Take a Padron Aniversario for example. When the Padrons release an Aniversario is it absolutely at it’s peak, ready for immediate consumption. A 10 year old Aniversario retains little if any body or flavor, and none of the classic sweetness. Long term aging ruins this once great cigar. But perhaps the biggest misconception is in regards to Dominican tobacco. Most smokers believe what has been repeated in many cigar books: that Dominican leaf is unworthy of aging. I have found that milder cigars utilizing a majority of Dominican leaf, are the LEAST affected by long term aging! I'll compare the Fuente Don Carlos to the above Padron Aniversario. While both are premium cigars, and aged by their manufacturers to be at their peak when released, the Nicaraguan Padron goes downhill the minute it’s purchased. The Dominican Don Carlos will taste about the same 10 years from now as it did the day you bought it. And what about the relatively recent STRONGER Dominican cigar blends? (Opus X, VSG, LFD, etc) What occurs is somewhat of a transformation, not unlike great Cuban cigars. But Opus X has one upped the Cubans in one regard. The Opus is a great cigar when fresh OR aged, whereas most Cuban cigars literally require at least some aging. One of the best cigars I ever had the privelege to smoke, was an Opus X that was 3 DAYS off the rollers table. As expected it was a powerhouse. But after 10 years the Opus turns into a smooth, medium bodied smoke that seems to change it’s flavor profile. I believe that these “new found” flavors were always present. They were just masked by strength of the cigar when fresh. And like you, I’ve had similar results with Ashtons’ VSG.
And what about blends? Cigars made with a blend of leaf from several countries can be hit or miss, it all depends on the particular cigar. Cigars such as the old Puros Indios (or the old Cuba Aliados), and Punch seem to hold up well after short to mid term aging. But they are easy to “overage” and once they are past their peak, it’s all downhill. And therein lies the magic of Cuban leaf. For almost 50 years, cigarmakers have been trying to recreate the taste and texture of Cuban tobacco. They’ll be sure to inject the word Cuban or Habano into their advertising and on their cigar bands. Cuban seed has been planted on most every parcel of land on earth in an attempt to duplicate the qualities of Cuban tobacco. Putting advertising copy aside, to this day, I still haven’t found anything that rivals genuine Cuban leaf. And this is why cigar aficionados worldwide keep coming back to Cuban cigars, despite their incessant quality control problems, draw issues, and counterfeit possibilities. Like a fine wine, Cuban cigars literally “evolve” with long term aging.
But I would encourage all cigar smokers to try aging a few of their favorite smokes. Sample one every few months and note the changes. All you need is patience!
«1

Comments

  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭
    interesting read here.
    i am a huge fan of Honduran tobacco and i have had several aged Diplomas that i loved... but mostly the maduro. i have not seen them lose that much over the years. However, i am also a fan of mild cigars. if you find yourself not enjoying them as much, just stay away from aging them.
    i definitely agree that there is always potential for over aging. and that is why i was surprised with the VSG being recommended for age. I had the opportunity to smoke the VSG round original release (1999) and i felt that it was flat. i felt that it was lacking in both strength and depth.


    your assertion that cuban tobacco evolves over time is a good one. part of this may be due to the slight differences in how the cuban tradition markets and expects people to smoke them. the time that they leave there cigars in the aging room is little to none in comparison and therefore there is more "age potential"

    i dont often get the opportunity to smoke many "truly aged" (10+ years) but i have found that some nicaraguan cigars will age well. the two that come to mind at the top of the list is the El Cobre by Oliva and DPG blue label. i was once handed a DPG blue with 5 years on it and it was the best DPG cigar that i have ever had.
    i also agree that the OpusX ages VERY well. so well in fact that i will never smoke a fresh one. i will only think about smoking it if it has over a year on it, preferably more. the 2006 OpusX is smoking incredibly well right now and i only have one left. i may have to smoke that guy soon.


    as far as LFD goes, i cant seem to keep them in the humidor for very long. i have a few in the aging humidor but they have not been there very lat all, maybe a year or so. ill get back to you in 10 years...
    I do have one LFD Limitado (thanks txpool) in the humidor that has a touch over 10 years. however, i cant tell you how they smoked fresh.


    i think the most difficult part about knowing if a cigar will age well or not is that it is so subjective. many people claim that the Liga Privada no.9 ages well, but i dont like it as much after a few years have been on it.
  • MVW67MVW67 WisconsinPosts: 5,556 ✭✭✭
    This is why I am here to learn and expand my knowledge, thanks for the information!!!!!
    Life is too short, live it like no tomorrow...
  • denniskingdennisking Posts: 3,703 ✭✭✭
    Anejos tend to age well. The slight rough edges smooth out but the power stays. I smoked one with 3+ years on it (thanks phobicsquirell) the same night my Father in Law smoked a 2011 release Anejo. I took puffs off of his and it was the same body and flavor as my 08 release but thru the nose, it was a little rougher, not by much though. Kuzi's right though, an Opus is really starting to get good after a year minimum and even then, they still do well with time. Also, different palates like different things. docbp87 was saying that some think that the Partagas 150 is papery and flat in flavor now, after 15 years of age, but mine was fantastic. Very balanced, great flavor, and fairly complex.
  • rwheelwrightrwheelwright Posts: 3,296
    dennisking:
    Anejos tend to age well. The slight rough edges smooth out but the power stays. I smoked one with 3+ years on it (thanks phobicsquirell) the same night my Father in Law smoked a 2011 release Anejo. I took puffs off of his and it was the same body and flavor as my 08 release but thru the nose, it was a little rougher, not by much though. Kuzi's right though, an Opus is really starting to get good after a year minimum and even then, they still do well with time. Also, different palates like different things. docbp87 was saying that some think that the Partagas 150 is papery and flat in flavor now, after 15 years of age, but mine was fantastic. Very balanced, great flavor, and fairly complex.
    I would love to get my hands on some of those Opus that they were talking about in the article. From 2000? Definately! If I had only known back then I wouldn't have smoked all of them or I would have bought more.
  • denniskingdennisking Posts: 3,703 ✭✭✭
    I may know a place you can call for some older Opus, Rich. Let me know
  • Ken_LightKen_Light Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭
    This has the potential to be a VERY interesting thread, especially if Alex decides to chime in here. For me, people having stark differences in experience with age leads me to one natural question, and I'd like to pose it to kuzi, the OP, and whomever else might be able to contribute: is all aging created equal? If someone ages a cigar for 10 years at, say, 65 RH, will that end up the same as someone who aged it for the same time at 68 RH?

    To go even further, if there is a difference based on RH, does different RH merely speed up or slow down the process, or does it alter it in some way, perhaps changing a balance of oils and flavors? Maybe it depends on the tobacco, and each has its ideal RH?

    To add a final layer of complexity, what about temperature? Is that an equally important variable?

    To a large extent, when we store cigars we are trying to recreate the tobacco's natural environment. Maybe the native conditions would provide a good indication of the conditions which would age a certain cigar ideally? In the case of blends, maybe a weighted average based on percentages of tobacco that come from different regions?

    Am I just crazy and overthinking? I've been known to do that!
    ^Troll: DO NOT FEED.
  • scarlinscarlin Posts: 1,592
    My mind is about to be blown...
    Animated Gifs
  • ENFIDLENFIDL Posts: 5,836
    Just wanna say the only cigar I've aged and have tried throughout the aging process from ROTT to 1 year is the Unholy Cocktail. I have 5 left from my box purchase almost 2 years ago and will be smoking 1 every year on the 1 year mark. They have done nothing but get better and better with time. Now I may find when I fire one up one year over the next 5 that they've gone too far but I am very excited to find out
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭
    Ken Light:
    This has the potential to be a VERY interesting thread, especially if Alex decides to chime in here. For me, people having stark differences in experience with age leads me to one natural question, and I'd like to pose it to kuzi, the OP, and whomever else might be able to contribute: is all aging created equal? If someone ages a cigar for 10 years at, say, 65 RH, will that end up the same as someone who aged it for the same time at 68 RH?

    To go even further, if there is a difference based on RH, does different RH merely speed up or slow down the process, or does it alter it in some way, perhaps changing a balance of oils and flavors? Maybe it depends on the tobacco, and each has its ideal RH?

    To add a final layer of complexity, what about temperature? Is that an equally important variable?

    the standard of 70/70 is there for a reason.
    lets start with temperature...
    70*F is ideal because that is a temp that humidity can hold at easily. as air cools, it becomes less able to keep moisture in the air. 70* is high enough that it will hold moisture well but not so high that beetles will hatch.

    humidity is the slightly more important factor if you ask me. we all know when you get above 70% you run a higher risk of mold. but what many dont see is that under 70% we start breaking down essential oils faster. This means that the cigar will "age faster"
    sounds like a good thing right?
    wrong
    though age does break down the oils in a natural process, the slower it does it, the better. this gives the oils of the different leaves more time to marry within the cigar and have more potential of a more balanced cigar.

    if you break down the oils in 80% of the time it usually takes, those oils dont have the same amount of time to marry. they are just broken down. dont get me wrong, it will be smoother and have less power like all other aged cigars, but it may lack in flavor and complexity as well.

    i would hate to lose flavor out of those OpusX.

    knowing this, why do so many cigar enthusiasts keep their RH in the 62-66% range?
    better burn.
    i personally have tried to balance this out by keeping my humidor as close to 68% as i can.
    so far so good.
    Ken Light:
    To a large extent, when we store cigars we are trying to recreate the tobacco's natural environment. Maybe the native conditions would provide a good indication of the conditions which would age a certain cigar ideally? In the case of blends, maybe a weighted average based on percentages of tobacco that come from different regions?

    Am I just crazy and overthinking? I've been known to do that!
    in most tobacco growing areas there are two seasons: the growing season and the rainy season.
    this may seem a bit deceptive, but the growing season is actually very dry. there is little rain and often low humidity. irrigation is how the tobacco plants are cared for. then there is the rainy season. it rains all the time. its annoying and clearly at 100% humidity.

    to take your idea one step further, it has little to do with the conditions that it is processed under. in fermentation, the pilones can reach temperatures of 125+ depending on what kind of process you are using. the humidity in many of those rooms is unbearable. once you get to the aging rooms you start to get close to "proper storage" of 70/70. many factories run them a little dry to help stop the fermentation that starts by introducing large amounts of moisture to the cigar when the wrapper leaf is added.
  • boydmcgowanboydmcgowan Posts: 1,101
    This is an interesting thread, and raised a bunch of questions that I'd never really thought about. Thanks for posting up dispatcher.

    I would really give a +1 to those who have brought up the fact that aging potential being as subjective as out our paletes. I think it all comes down to personal flavor preferences. For example the one constant in ever aging discussion is that the bite of a peppery cigar will be the first thing to fade. So I'd argue that if you like peppery cigars, then you might not be so thrilled with the results of aging them for a few years. On the flip side, if you like the milder flavors of Oak, nuts, bread, and cream, then your probably going to be pretty happy with your aging results becuase these flavors will be more pronounced as the stronger flavors fade away. The one thing that I tend to pick up after a year in certain cigars (DPG black for example) is a muskiness that is amazing and starts to surface after the 1 year mark.

    All this being said I honestly don't see myself ever aging anything for 10 years, but on the shorter scale (1-5 years) aging has begun to interest me and I got into it accidentally when I found the last one in a box of LGC Sumatra with 3 - 4 years on it and it was fantastic.
  • denniskingdennisking Posts: 3,703 ✭✭✭
    ENFIDL:
    Just wanna say the only cigar I've aged and have tried throughout the aging process from ROTT to 1 year is the Unholy Cocktail. I have 5 left from my box purchase almost 2 years ago and will be smoking 1 every year on the 1 year mark. They have done nothing but get better and better with time. Now I may find when I fire one up one year over the next 5 that they've gone too far but I am very excited to find out
    I found that the Unholy Cocktail is a really fantastic stick with a year or more on it. I had one with 2+ years on it and it was as good to me as an Anejo with similar age. That may seem like a strange comparison but they are both powerful sticks with a lot of depth to them. I will say this though, the UHC ROTT isn't a comparison, but with age, yes. The other real surprise stick with age is the MOW PA. Fantastic with 6 months or more on it.
  • HaybletHayblet Posts: 2,429 ✭✭✭
    dennisking:
    ENFIDL:
    Just wanna say the only cigar I've aged and have tried throughout the aging process from ROTT to 1 year is the Unholy Cocktail. I have 5 left from my box purchase almost 2 years ago and will be smoking 1 every year on the 1 year mark. They have done nothing but get better and better with time. Now I may find when I fire one up one year over the next 5 that they've gone too far but I am very excited to find out
    I found that the Unholy Cocktail is a really fantastic stick with a year or more on it. I had one with 2+ years on it and it was as good to me as an Anejo with similar age. That may seem like a strange comparison but they are both powerful sticks with a lot of depth to them. I will say this though, the UHC ROTT isn't a comparison, but with age, yes. The other real surprise stick with age is the MOW PA. Fantastic with 6 months or more on it.
    Truth, and I agree on aging Anejos as well, I do have one UHC left from all of my selling off that has 2 years already on it, and before I sent off my last PA's to Elijah I think? Or Todd one of the "Big Guns", it was from when we all reserved boxes for first release and it was way more prolific than it was fresh out of the box.I have quite a few sticks with Significant age on them (Pre-Release Dirty Rat and an AVO LE 05) but oddly can't bring myself to smoke them, I don't know how long of a "wait" is too long though
  • KCWKCW Posts: 1,334 ✭✭✭
    Thats one heck of a first post! Welcome to the Forum. I'm looking at all the Opus X, GOF, Edicion de Anniversario, et. al. from 2006 that I have. I went nuts a while back and bought some. I'm thinking about trying them soon! Great post. Good info.
  • denniskingdennisking Posts: 3,703 ✭✭✭
    KCW:
    Thats one heck of a first post! Welcome to the Forum. I'm looking at all the Opus X, GOF, Edicion de Anniversario, et. al. from 2006 that I have. I went nuts a while back and bought some. I'm thinking about trying them soon! Great post. Good info.
    you should dude. why not, they are meant to be smoked. I smoked some sticks the last week from 03 and 04 and they were spot on. they aren't meant to be burned alive at some point.
  • Ken_LightKen_Light Posts: 3,539 ✭✭✭
    kuzi16:
    Ken Light:
    This has the potential to be a VERY interesting thread, especially if Alex decides to chime in here. For me, people having stark differences in experience with age leads me to one natural question, and I'd like to pose it to kuzi, the OP, and whomever else might be able to contribute: is all aging created equal? If someone ages a cigar for 10 years at, say, 65 RH, will that end up the same as someone who aged it for the same time at 68 RH?

    To go even further, if there is a difference based on RH, does different RH merely speed up or slow down the process, or does it alter it in some way, perhaps changing a balance of oils and flavors? Maybe it depends on the tobacco, and each has its ideal RH?

    To add a final layer of complexity, what about temperature? Is that an equally important variable?

    the standard of 70/70 is there for a reason.
    lets start with temperature...
    70*F is ideal because that is a temp that humidity can hold at easily. as air cools, it becomes less able to keep moisture in the air. 70* is high enough that it will hold moisture well but not so high that beetles will hatch.

    humidity is the slightly more important factor if you ask me. we all know when you get above 70% you run a higher risk of mold. but what many dont see is that under 70% we start breaking down essential oils faster. This means that the cigar will "age faster"
    sounds like a good thing right?
    wrong
    though age does break down the oils in a natural process, the slower it does it, the better. this gives the oils of the different leaves more time to marry within the cigar and have more potential of a more balanced cigar.

    if you break down the oils in 80% of the time it usually takes, those oils dont have the same amount of time to marry. they are just broken down. dont get me wrong, it will be smoother and have less power like all other aged cigars, but it may lack in flavor and complexity as well.

    i would hate to lose flavor out of those OpusX.

    knowing this, why do so many cigar enthusiasts keep their RH in the 62-66% range?
    better burn.
    i personally have tried to balance this out by keeping my humidor as close to 68% as i can.
    so far so good.
    Ken Light:
    To a large extent, when we store cigars we are trying to recreate the tobacco's natural environment. Maybe the native conditions would provide a good indication of the conditions which would age a certain cigar ideally? In the case of blends, maybe a weighted average based on percentages of tobacco that come from different regions?

    Am I just crazy and overthinking? I've been known to do that!
    in most tobacco growing areas there are two seasons: the growing season and the rainy season.
    this may seem a bit deceptive, but the growing season is actually very dry. there is little rain and often low humidity. irrigation is how the tobacco plants are cared for. then there is the rainy season. it rains all the time. its annoying and clearly at 100% humidity.

    to take your idea one step further, it has little to do with the conditions that it is processed under. in fermentation, the pilones can reach temperatures of 125+ depending on what kind of process you are using. the humidity in many of those rooms is unbearable. once you get to the aging rooms you start to get close to "proper storage" of 70/70. many factories run them a little dry to help stop the fermentation that starts by introducing large amounts of moisture to the cigar when the wrapper leaf is added.
    Incredible info, as always! In this I also now see the reasoning behind aging and smoking humidors, and really makes me want to go 70 RH in the larger main compartment of my cabinet and somewhere around 65 RH in the smaller top portion. I hate to think that boxes I have in the main compartment right now are losing their oils too quickly and therefore aging improperly. Most impressive that you just rattled that stuff off in no time! And PM sent...
    ^Troll: DO NOT FEED.
  • KCWKCW Posts: 1,334 ✭✭✭
    dennisking:
    KCW:
    Thats one heck of a first post! Welcome to the Forum. I'm looking at all the Opus X, GOF, Edicion de Anniversario, et. al. from 2006 that I have. I went nuts a while back and bought some. I'm thinking about trying them soon! Great post. Good info.
    you should dude. why not, they are meant to be smoked. I smoked some sticks the last week from 03 and 04 and they were spot on. they aren't meant to be burned alive at some point.
    This will be the year! This will be my New Years resolution (I know I'm a little late). Kids going to Summer Camp for the first time this Summer. I will do it!!!! (I've been such a cigar-***).
  • lcpleellcpleel Posts: 3,451 ✭✭✭
    aged cigars? ill have to try some
  • ENFIDLENFIDL Posts: 5,836
    lcpleel:
    aged cigars? ill have to try some
    Somebody's got jokes!
  • denniskingdennisking Posts: 3,703 ✭✭✭
    lcpleel:
    aged cigars? ill have to try some
    I see what you did here.....
  • rzamanrzaman Posts: 2,650 ✭✭✭
    PM sent to your inbox, thanks!
  • denniskingdennisking Posts: 3,703 ✭✭✭
    Right back at ya Rza
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭
    Ken Light:
    In this I also now see the reasoning behind aging and smoking humidors, and really makes me want to go 70 RH in the larger main compartment of my cabinet and somewhere around 65 RH in the smaller top portion. I hate to think that boxes I have in the main compartment right now are losing their oils too quickly and therefore aging improperly. Most impressive that you just rattled that stuff off in no time! And PM sent...
    if you havent been aging for 5+ years then i doubt you will have any issues.
  • blurrblurr Posts: 962
    Whew, wall-o-text exhausted. j/k. Interesting to read, and I know everyone has different tastes & beliefs as far as cigars & aging. I tend to enjoy Nicaraguan a bit more, but still enjoy Dominican or Honduran leaf. While I can't agree or disagree with your praise of Cuban leaf (haven't ever smoked a CC yet), I do disagree with the statement that Nicaraguan Padrons "go downhill the minute its purchased". Thats probably just my taste, and I'm nowhere near having Nic's with 10 years on, but I know for my tastes I like most of my Nicaraguans to be at LEAST 1+ yr in my humidors. Interesting read though.
  • dennisking:
    I may know a place you can call for some older Opus, Rich. Let me know
    let me know. I might not be able to bite but one never knows...
  • I just wanted to thank you guys for the warm welcome. I'm glad that some found my post useful. It's amazing what you pick up from smoking cigars for 20 plus years. I think that aging cigars becomes a necessity for anyone who favors Cuban leaf. Once you realize how truly great a well aged Cuban cigar is, you'll never go back. But finding out about the effects of age on non-Cuban cigars was sort of a by-product of going to estate sales. That gave me the opportunity to try many well aged cigars from people's personal collections that were well kept and still very enjoyable. Stuff that hadn't been made in years. But there is a point of no return with cigars, and aging won't make a poorly kept cigar into a great one. And as much as I've enjoyed many well aged Cubans , I've been mostly disappointed with pre-embargo sticks. They're ridiculously expensive, and even when properly stored for the past 50-60 years, I haven't been overly impressed. If you want the best opportunity to smoke a truly memorable cigar, try one of the classic models (Monte #2, Partagas Lusitania or Serie D No.4, Ramon Allones Gigante or Specially Selected, Bolivar Belicoso Fino, etc) with about 10-15 years of box age and you'll see what I mean. Nothing is guaranteed, but there's a good chance it will be one of those "once in a lifetime" smokes that you'll always remember. A cigar that's so great that you just want to savor it with no distractions. No matter how many good cigars you may smoke in a lifetime, those are the ones that you never forget. The ones that instantly come to mind when you try to think of the 5 best sticks you ever enjoyed. And the best part is that most of the greatest cigars that I've ever smoked were a gift from a generous cigar smoking friend. And that's what it's all about. I can't begin to express how much other cigar smoker's have done for me, out of nothing but friendship and the common bond of tobacco. I've been a member of other "hobbie" type websites (fishing, rodbuilding, firearms, etc) where they all TALK about this bond or this "brotherhood" between them. But they won't share their "secret" fishing spots or special productive methods, etc. Yet cigar smokers, who I had never personally met before paid to fly me (even first class) from NY to California, put me up in their homes with their families, and treat me to some of the best times of my life. And they did it several times. Times that I won't forget 'til the day I die. THAT is a brother.
  • Alex_SvensonAlex_Svenson Posts: 1,224Moderator admin
    Dispatcher:
    Alex, upon receiving your current catalog, I was intrigued by your article on aging cigars. I’ve been smoking cigars since the 1980’s, and have experimented extensively on the long term effects of aging cigars, ranging from post embargo cigars from the Canary Islands, Jamaica and Mexico to the current brands of today. Before I had even read your article, I had incorrectly assumed that your selection would be based on mostly stronger Nicaraguan cigars. But my findings are very similar to yours. The only surprise I found in your 3 choices was the Camacho Diploma. On a side note, I used to smoke Camachos years ago, when they were an inexpensive line (one line only) with a mild to medium strength and a sweet cap, and nothing like the current Camacho. Out of curiosity, I purchased some Diplomas when they were first released. But unlike your article, I found them to be literally flavorless after long term aging. I found that dominantly Honduran cigars were very hit or miss, and although many smokers think of cigars like Punch or Hoyo to be Honduran cigars, they really contain a blend of leaf from several countries. What I have found (and what is the biggest surprise to most smokers), is that Nicaraguan puros (or those cigars comprised mostly of Nicaraguan leaf) are far and away the WORST cigars for long term aging. (By long term, I refer to over 10 years aging under proper conditions). Take a Padron Aniversario for example. When the Padrons release an Aniversario is it absolutely at it’s peak, ready for immediate consumption. A 10 year old Aniversario retains little if any body or flavor, and none of the classic sweetness. Long term aging ruins this once great cigar. But perhaps the biggest misconception is in regards to Dominican tobacco. Most smokers believe what has been repeated in many cigar books: that Dominican leaf is unworthy of aging. I have found that milder cigars utilizing a majority of Dominican leaf, are the LEAST affected by long term aging! I'll compare the Fuente Don Carlos to the above Padron Aniversario. While both are premium cigars, and aged by their manufacturers to be at their peak when released, the Nicaraguan Padron goes downhill the minute it’s purchased. The Dominican Don Carlos will taste about the same 10 years from now as it did the day you bought it. And what about the relatively recent STRONGER Dominican cigar blends? (Opus X, VSG, LFD, etc) What occurs is somewhat of a transformation, not unlike great Cuban cigars. But Opus X has one upped the Cubans in one regard. The Opus is a great cigar when fresh OR aged, whereas most Cuban cigars literally require at least some aging. One of the best cigars I ever had the privelege to smoke, was an Opus X that was 3 DAYS off the rollers table. As expected it was a powerhouse. But after 10 years the Opus turns into a smooth, medium bodied smoke that seems to change it’s flavor profile. I believe that these “new found” flavors were always present. They were just masked by strength of the cigar when fresh. And like you, I’ve had similar results with Ashtons’ VSG. And what about blends? Cigars made with a blend of leaf from several countries can be hit or miss, it all depends on the particular cigar. Cigars such as the old Puros Indios (or the old Cuba Aliados), and Punch seem to hold up well after short to mid term aging. But they are easy to “overage” and once they are past their peak, it’s all downhill. And therein lies the magic of Cuban leaf. For almost 50 years, cigarmakers have been trying to recreate the taste and texture of Cuban tobacco. They’ll be sure to inject the word Cuban or Habano into their advertising and on their cigar bands. Cuban seed has been planted on most every parcel of land on earth in an attempt to duplicate the qualities of Cuban tobacco. Putting advertising copy aside, to this day, I still haven’t found anything that rivals genuine Cuban leaf. And this is why cigar aficionados worldwide keep coming back to Cuban cigars, despite their incessant quality control problems, draw issues, and counterfeit possibilities. Like a fine wine, Cuban cigars literally “evolve” with long term aging. But I would encourage all cigar smokers to try aging a few of their favorite smokes. Sample one every few months and note the changes. All you need is patience!
    As usual, Kuzi kind of hit on a lot of what I would have said (I think we share a brain sometimes LOL). For the diplomas, you mention first release, let me ask, are the bands brown or have more of a pinkish hugh? I ask because the first batch was amazing and the second batch which had a slightly off color band were very flat. In fact, even the folks from Camacho made mention of it to me many years ago. It took them about a year to correct the problem.

    Now on to the other stuff. Note my opinions on aging a bit different from the main stream and my opinions on cuban cigars and aging are vastly different. So let me start with a big +1 on aging like most things with premium cigars being subjective.

    There is no steadfast rule for maturation. It can depend on the individual tobaccos or how they are blended together. Some regions are better than others and not all tobaccos play well in the sandbox when paired with other tobaccos in a blend. Very few people have gone out of their way to blend a cigar specifically designed for extensive aging and most of what of people know is largely trial and error and simply dedicating yourself to the task. I have found that maturation (both as it pertains to the aging of the leaves in the cigar and how the cigar ages as a sum of its parts) is most impacted by the amount previously organic compounds and nicotine. Chemically, aging is not too different from actual fermentation in terms of process but is worlds apart in terms of timing. No matter which country, region or seed, I find a great rule of thumb is that ligero and high priming leaves almost always age better (lending credibility to the idea that stronger cigars often age the best). However, this is not a rule. The truth is that stronger cigars and heavier tobaccos merely show the effects of aging more obviously in a smoke. Aging some mild cigars or low priming tobaccos can be very fruitful but it takes a very discerning palate to pick up on and appreciate the nuances aging has to offer for such tobaccos. Cigars today are blended with tobaccos from so many places, that it is hard to direct which leaves are contributing most prominately to the aging and remember, just because you read the recipe of what is in a cigar as advertised by the maker rarely means that is actually what is in there. In fact, I would say 99% of what you read about a blend from the manufacturer is not accurate. A good chef never reveals his recipe. So what you think you may be identifying may not be the same leaf at all.

    I firmly believe one of the big reasons Cuban cigars (post embargo) are thought to have superior aging qualities is because Cuba is widely known to not ferment their tobacco as long as other countries. They supplement fermentation with longer curing and in some cases, leaves go right from the barns to cigar production skipping fermentation all together. It is a shame in my opinion. Cuba has amazing tobacco and an amazing climate. For me, it is like having the best beef in the world and cooking it well done or dropping it in the microwave. Quite simply, the country does not have the money to do the process completely like they did before the state took control of the industry or like many other makers are able to do in other countries. As such, aging is needed (sometimes for long periods of time) to bring the tobacco to its full potential by allowing some of the organic materials to break down and some of the sugars to settle. I firmly believe that if/ when the cuban industry is privatized and things can return to many of the old methods as well as some new, longer fermentation methods being used in other parts of the world, production cuban cigars of the future will taste like 10 year aged cubans ROTT. Again, my opinion of this is a bit controversial, but what would the world be if all agreed with each other on everything. Great thread by the way.
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭
    Alex Svenson:
    I would say 99% of what you read about a blend from the manufacturer is not accurate. A good chef never reveals his recipe. So what you think you may be identifying may not be the same leaf at all.
    is this stuff actually a wrong country or more along the lines of not letting out the priming/fermentation style/age/seed/growing conditions?

    i mean, two cigars can be Nicaraguan Puros but taste VERY different depending on all of those other factors. how accurate is the blend info as far as country goes?
  • Alex_SvensonAlex_Svenson Posts: 1,224Moderator admin
    kuzi16:
    Alex Svenson:
    I would say 99% of what you read about a blend from the manufacturer is not accurate. A good chef never reveals his recipe. So what you think you may be identifying may not be the same leaf at all.
    is this stuff actually a wrong country or more along the lines of not letting out the priming/fermentation style/age/seed/growing conditions?

    i mean, two cigars can be Nicaraguan Puros but taste VERY different depending on all of those other factors. how accurate is the blend info as far as country goes?
    I fear my response will ask more questions than it answers and will somewhat hijack the topic but here goes. The extent to which they will change the blend they advertise depends on the maker. I have seen some say that a leaf of filler from La Entrada Honduras is actually Esteli nicaragua. Others may say the correct region but not be upfront about the priming. It is a shame really as many cigar smokers like to read and learn about what they are smoking to help guide their selection decisions when making other purchases. Unfortunately, it is necessary. In my estimate, there are only 10 to 20 real master blenders out there. Guys that know their stuff by taste, look, feel, and can make miracles happen. On the flip side you have tons of little factories opening all the time. Esteli is plagued with this right now. These factories do not have accomplished blending skills, good labor or good materials. They buy their tobaccos hand to mouth (usually from farmers who were contracted to grow tobacco but steal it and sell it out the back door) and steal employees and rollers from some of the more accomplished factories by paying more but also not having other costs as they can get away without paying taxes or providing decent working conditions. Since they need to put out a good product, they will actively try to steal blends from some of the aformentioned accomplished blenders. they will even go as far as to bribe people in some factories to steal this information. To combat this, some factories will provide the tobaccos to the blenders and rollers labeled A, B, C and D with the proportions so that really only 2 or 3 people in the factory actually know what the blend is. There is a lot of integrity among the old timers and accomplished blenders and folks in this business but there is a huge unsavory element attracted by the quick buck that tries to ride the coat tails of the real talent in the business. Just as an example in terms of integrity, the 10 or 20 true greats out there that I spoke of are talented enough to take a cigar from literally any factory, open it up and identify every leaf in the cigar. Region, seed, priming, proportion and sometimes even grower. that said, they never knock each other off out of a huge amount of respect, loyalty and integrity. They are each artists in their own right and while the appreciate the work of others, they never set out to knock something off.

    The obvious question I am sure you are asking yourself is how it is even possible to replicate a blend with exacting taste. Fermentation and so many of the tobacco processes are so distinctive, that the flavor simply cant be replicated. This is indeed true but the truth is, that certain tobaccos go very well together in the right proportions no matter how they were processed and if you take the exact recipe to another factory you will most likely have a cigar that tastes a bit different but still great. I made this experiment once. I happen to know the blend for puro authentico and have taken it to 4 or 5 different factories and used the same exact recipe and size. Each time the blend was similar but distinctly different but amazing each time. Obviously those were never actually made as it would not be right to do to AJ and I would like to live by a higher set of standards but I can tell you it works. Maybe not 100% of the time but if it takes 100 tries to get an excellent blend, starting with some known great combinations can cut your works by as much as 80%

    I hope this makes sense.
  • laker1963laker1963 Posts: 5,046
    Alex Svenson:
    kuzi16:
    Alex Svenson:
    I would say 99% of what you read about a blend from the manufacturer is not accurate. A good chef never reveals his recipe. So what you think you may be identifying may not be the same leaf at all.
    is this stuff actually a wrong country or more along the lines of not letting out the priming/fermentation style/age/seed/growing conditions?

    i mean, two cigars can be Nicaraguan Puros but taste VERY different depending on all of those other factors. how accurate is the blend info as far as country goes?
    I fear my response will ask more questions than it answers and will somewhat hijack the topic but here goes. The extent to which they will change the blend they advertise depends on the maker. I have seen some say that a leaf of filler from La Entrada Honduras is actually Esteli nicaragua. Others may say the correct region but not be upfront about the priming. It is a shame really as many cigar smokers like to read and learn about what they are smoking to help guide their selection decisions when making other purchases. Unfortunately, it is necessary. In my estimate, there are only 10 to 20 real master blenders out there. Guys that know their stuff by taste, look, feel, and can make miracles happen. On the flip side you have tons of little factories opening all the time. Esteli is plagued with this right now. These factories do not have accomplished blending skills, good labor or good materials. They buy their tobaccos hand to mouth (usually from farmers who were contracted to grow tobacco but steal it and sell it out the back door) and steal employees and rollers from some of the more accomplished factories by paying more but also not having other costs as they can get away without paying taxes or providing decent working conditions. Since they need to put out a good product, they will actively try to steal blends from some of the aformentioned accomplished blenders. they will even go as far as to bribe people in some factories to steal this information. To combat this, some factories will provide the tobaccos to the blenders and rollers labeled A, B, C and D with the proportions so that really only 2 or 3 people in the factory actually know what the blend is. There is a lot of integrity among the old timers and accomplished blenders and folks in this business but there is a huge unsavory element attracted by the quick buck that tries to ride the coat tails of the real talent in the business. Just as an example in terms of integrity, the 10 or 20 true greats out there that I spoke of are talented enough to take a cigar from literally any factory, open it up and identify every leaf in the cigar. Region, seed, priming, proportion and sometimes even grower. that said, they never knock each other off out of a huge amount of respect, loyalty and integrity. They are each artists in their own right and while the appreciate the work of others, they never set out to knock something off.

    The obvious question I am sure you are asking yourself is how it is even possible to replicate a blend with exacting taste. Fermentation and so many of the tobacco processes are so distinctive, that the flavor simply cant be replicated. This is indeed true but the truth is, that certain tobaccos go very well together in the right proportions no matter how they were processed and if you take the exact recipe to another factory you will most likely have a cigar that tastes a bit different but still great. I made this experiment once. I happen to know the blend for puro authentico and have taken it to 4 or 5 different factories and used the same exact recipe and size. Each time the blend was similar but distinctly different but amazing each time. Obviously those were never actually made as it would not be right to do to AJ and I would like to live by a higher set of standards but I can tell you it works. Maybe not 100% of the time but if it takes 100 tries to get an excellent blend, starting with some known great combinations can cut your works by as much as 80%

    I hope this makes sense.
    Thanks Alex, it makes perfect sense. Unfortunately it also makes it just about impossible to accurately choose future cigar decisions based on the information provided by the companies. This information tells me that it is even more important to get to know the style of certain blenders as this may be a more accurate way of choosing a new stick over deciding on one based on the information provided. Very interesting stuff Alex, thanks.
  • big chunksbig chunks Posts: 1,607
    Great topic, soaking up all this knowledge
«1
Sign In or Register to comment.