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The need for aging

bigharpoonbigharpoon Posts: 2,963 ✭✭✭
This is something I understand but I just don't understand. New cigars go in the humidor and the flavors smooth out over time and the enjoyment factor goes way up. This seems to be the general consensus around here and standard operating procedure. My question is...why is this necessary???

When beer hits the shelf it is ready to drink. When wine hits the shelf it is ready to drink. So why is it when cigars hit the shelf you are supposed to bring them home, store them in your humidor for months on end and smoke them a long time from now? Why are they not all pre-aged so when you buy them they are at their best and ready to be smoked immediately?

Having a humidor is a great thing. It allows you to take advantage of sales and buy more cigars than you can smoke, but buying cigars that need this step to be at their best and can't just be smoked? I don't get it.
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Comments

  • rwheelwrightrwheelwright Posts: 3,296
    A lot of cigars are aged a few months before they are boxed up and shipped. The process of aging the tobacco and fermenting it leaves some chemicals behind that can be tasted or smelled when smoked. With wine and beer it is fluid so everything mixed well. With tobacco, it's not fluid so it takes longer for the oils to intermingle between the different cigars. Plus, the more time it is aged the less tanic it will be. Does that make sense?

    It is kinda like wine where a lot of good vintages are aged. Also, think Whiskey. Some of them are aged 21 years or more to help make it smoother. You can smoke a cigar right out of the box and not age it yourself. Aging also helps to mellow the taste.

    I'm sure there are others that can explain this better that I just did.
  • bbc020bbc020 Posts: 1,422
    I think this has a lot to do with tastes/preference. For one, I know that resting a cigar with benefit deficiencies in the draw and such and can allow for a cigar to get acquainted with one's preferred rH. Aging, which in my mind, means a much longer period of time, allows for flavors/oils to co-exist longer and smooth out. For some cigars, I find this to be enjoyable, but for others, I enjoy the edge that goes away with long term aging.

    I think many folks on this forum will suggest that some sticks are better for aging than others, and in my opinion it has a lot to do with personal taste/preference.
  • betasynnbetasynn Posts: 1,249
    Yeah, from what I've sort of figured out, there are some cigars that are initially kick you in the balls strong, but aging them lets that particular flavor mellow out, and allow for the others to show through. It lets a cigar balance out, and settle. I think you can smoke any cigar straight up as soon as you get it; I often do. But aging certain smokes makes the flavor better. This is cigars for now and cigars for then.
  • bass8844bass8844 Posts: 416
    When you order a cigar from lets say CCOM, during transit, the cigar can lose or gain moisture.
    By letting it sit in your humidor for a bit, you can allow the cigar to settle at a humidity that YOU prefer.

    Every cigar also has a "shelf life" per say. Yes almost all premium hand made cigars contain aged tobacco that is usually ready to smoke right away, but more times than not, a little more aging can help the flavor come together a little more. Some cigars lose flavor as they age, esp. mild cigars. But most fuller bodied cigars will develop a smoother taste and the flavors can "round" out a little.

    Again with the wine thing: you can drink it right away, but most wines do benefit from a bit of cellaring. The same thing goes for cigars.

    Hope that clears things up a bit!
  • Alex_SvensonAlex_Svenson Moderator Posts: 1,224 admin
    Great points on all fronts. When making a cigar, there are several stages. Fermentations and maturations.

    Fermentation 1: leaves are cured in a barn for 45 days. This is where they turn from green to brown.

    Fermentation 2: Leaves are moved to pilones (stacks). Heat sweats out much of the by product of the tobacco. This leaves the tobacco having a less edgy taste and brings out its sweeter qualities. Heavy tannons are broken down at this stage. Depending on the type of toabacco, this process can be repeated 3 or 4 times and can take up to three years.

    Maturation 1: Leaves are dried to an internal r/h of 15% and packed in bales where they age. This is what is truly known as tobacco aging. When people say the "found an old bale of tobacco", it is at this step. During this time, tannons are further broken down and the tobacco settles. As you might imagine, Fermentation 2 is very hard on the leaf.

    Fermentation 3: The leaf is taking from the bales inmaturation 1, and given to the rollers. To make the leaf pliable, it must be rewet. Reweting the leaf restarts a final fermentation and activates a process similar to Fermentation 2, but on a much less complex level and without the aid of a pilone.

    Maturation 2: After being rolled, the cigars enter the aging room at the factory where they sit for anywhere from 30 to 120 days. Here the the temperature is controlled to allow Fermentation 3 to end. As the cigars enter the aging room, they have a very amonic smell and when they are down with Maturation 2, they should have lost it completely and much of the water that was present in the tobacco ont he way in, should have left the cigar. Watching a cigar maker in his aging room is amazing. He feels his cigars, listens to them while he rolls them between his fingers and smells them. The cigars tell the maker when they are ready to be packed.

    Maturation 3: The third maturation lasts as long as five years. During this time, the the most important thing that occurs is the marriage of the tobaccos within the cigar. The oils from the leaves meld and the cigar takes on a more rounded flavor. To a lesser degree, the tobacco continues to age like it did in Maturation 1 with tannic breakdown.

    Maturation 4: Occurs 5 to 15 years after packing. Not much more marrying but defined by extreme tanic breakdown in the leaf. Depending on the type of cigar, oils can dissolve.

    Maturation 5: Over 15 years, extreme tannic breakdown and near total dissolution of oils

    For the most part all cigars are the same up to maturation 2, after that, each cigar takes a more unique path. For example some cigars may enter maturation 3 in 3 years or even 2 rather than 5. It depends on the tobacco, cigar, and storage conditions. Once you practice and study, you can get the hang of how a cigar will aged based on its components and environment. Our cigar consultants are good at helping customers with this when they want to age something. In my humble opinion, all cigars are best toward the end of maturation 3 and the beginning of maturation 4. Once you get too far into maturation 4, the cigar looses many of its best qualities. I think there is such a thing as too much aging. I like my smokes married and rested. It is also worth noting that after maturation 3, the ability to detect specific aromas becomes increasingly difficult. The cigar is still complex, but the flavor is delivered in a more uniform, rounded package.

    Okay, more ranting. Interesting tid bit of info for those interested. People talk about "green" or "young cigars". There are two types. One type is when a Fermentation 2 is not done to completion. If this tobacco is made into a cigar, it is unfixable and you are stuck with a bad smoke. It will have an extremely dirty and tannic taste and awful finish. If fermentation 2 is not done to completion, the cigars will taste like crap. The second type of youth is when a factory skips maturation 2. If you ever opened a box of cigars and smelled amonia, it is because the cigars did not get enough time in the aging room and they are still winding down from fermentation 3. Fortunately, the cigars are not ruined, but you need put them away for at least two or three months to let maturation 2 complete.
  • phobicsquirrelphobicsquirrel Posts: 7,349
    damn, I never knew so much work was involved. now when my wife complains about a cigar costing 18 bucks or more I can tell her all this! thanks alex for all the information. Are there any manufactures you know about that skip these processes? Or is it something that happens from time to time by mistake?
  • bigharpoonbigharpoon Posts: 2,963 ✭✭✭
    Wow! Thanks for all the information on the aging process and its benefits. I'm really learning a ton from you guys. I'm still going to smoke some cigars as soon as I buy them but the others I'll put in my humidor and let them age and feel pretty darn good about it, too.
  • JdoraisJdorais Posts: 653
    Alex, that was great. It really puts things into perspective doesn't it?
  • kaspera79kaspera79 Posts: 7,259 ✭✭✭
    What a lesson that was Alex.. It goes to show how much time and effort goes into the cigars before we ever light them.
  • gmill880gmill880 Posts: 5,947
    Thanks for the primer Alex...enjoyed that ...
  • bacon.jaybacon.jay Posts: 718
    We should give alex the first crack at answering tough questions like this from now on. That way he can set us all straight before we try to sound all smart and everything. haha
  • KriegKrieg Posts: 5,092 ✭✭✭
    Wow, great info, thanks Alex.
  • Smoke=FireSmoke=Fire Posts: 692 ✭✭
    Myself, I like to buy enough of a product so that I can sample one right away, but than set some aside to age a little so I can see how it "matures"; not in the technical sense per Alex's discussion above, more a personal one. I have one C.Com Red Label with over two years on it; the last time I smoked one it was at about a year and a half and was fantastic. :)

    I don't have the space or income to buy and age cigars as they probably should be. But then again, I am not what I would call an aficionado anyway...more like an "Enjoyamundo" :D

    I never can identify all the nuances of cigars, I just can identify what I like and dislike...hence the "RRS". ;)
  • Alex_SvensonAlex_Svenson Moderator Posts: 1,224 admin
    No way I want to be the only tackling questions. The truth is that there is no science or facts, only opinions and theories. I learn as much from listening to you guys as you do listening to me. I especially reading a lot of Kuzi's posts. He has a some interesting concepts and ideas and a strong knowledge base.

    Re: the question about specific offenders, no one has consistent trouble but many cigar brands have been ruined. For example, lets say a guy is selling 500 boxes a month a brand and size and then it gets a 95 rating. Then the demand boosts to 5000 boxes a month. Now he needs to ramp up production and fill a ton of standing orders. In a hasty move he cuts maturation time after rolling and ships it right to the US and then to customers. Customer picks it up and smokes it and scratches his head in disbelief that this is a 95 rated cigar. It tastes terrible. Does this sound familiar? With the schip tax on april 1st, there was a lot of panic to get cigars imported, no doubt you will see some bad sticks in the next 90 days from certain manufacturers. You will be fine buying from us at CCOM since we are aging everything that came in the past few weeks a full 120 days before it lands and we also are deep on exisiting inventory to ensure you guys only get stuff that is ready to rock. No way I am going to knowingly sell a bad cigar, but be warned, others will and you will see them around May/ June time.

    Last comment - on buying a box smoking one and then letting sit, smoking another and letting it sit... this is a great method. i do this all the time, especially when I am not certain how a cigar is going to age. By the time i figure out where the sweet spot it, I have a half box and I plow right through them while they are in their price. One thing I start a few years ago, was I splurged on an extremely expensive box of cigars, something I really wanted but would not buy for myself usually. I bought it for my birthday. Since then, I smoke one cigar out of the box every new years and every birthday. So in 12 years, the box will be finished. It is a bit of a treat to myself each year and I take notes on each one I smoke. Lots of fun. I highly recommend.
  • brsmith21brsmith21 Posts: 207
    Alex Svenson:
    No way I want to be the only tackling questions. The truth is that there is no science or facts, only opinions and theories. I learn as much from listening to you guys as you do listening to me. I especially reading a lot of Kuzi's posts. He has a some interesting concepts and ideas and a strong knowledge base.

    I think this is a wise approach for all of us. If Alex had spent all of his time talking, he would never have gained the knowledge that he obviously has obtained. I'm no expert, but maybe one of my opinions or observations may give someone with more experience something that they may otherwise have overlooked. Again, just my opinion.
  • bwcarter54bwcarter54 Posts: 142
    Great lesson Alex. Thanks.
  • phobicsquirrelphobicsquirrel Posts: 7,349
    Alex Svenson:
    No way I want to be the only tackling questions. The truth is that there is no science or facts, only opinions and theories. I learn as much from listening to you guys as you do listening to me. I especially reading a lot of Kuzi's posts. He has a some interesting concepts and ideas and a strong knowledge base.

    Re: the question about specific offenders, no one has consistent trouble but many cigar brands have been ruined. For example, lets say a guy is selling 500 boxes a month a brand and size and then it gets a 95 rating. Then the demand boosts to 5000 boxes a month. Now he needs to ramp up production and fill a ton of standing orders. In a hasty move he cuts maturation time after rolling and ships it right to the US and then to customers. Customer picks it up and smokes it and scratches his head in disbelief that this is a 95 rated cigar. It tastes terrible. Does this sound familiar? With the schip tax on april 1st, there was a lot of panic to get cigars imported, no doubt you will see some bad sticks in the next 90 days from certain manufacturers. You will be fine buying from us at CCOM since we are aging everything that came in the past few weeks a full 120 days before it lands and we also are deep on exisiting inventory to ensure you guys only get stuff that is ready to rock. No way I am going to knowingly sell a bad cigar, but be warned, others will and you will see them around May/ June time.

    Last comment - on buying a box smoking one and then letting sit, smoking another and letting it sit... this is a great method. i do this all the time, especially when I am not certain how a cigar is going to age. By the time i figure out where the sweet spot it, I have a half box and I plow right through them while they are in their price. One thing I start a few years ago, was I splurged on an extremely expensive box of cigars, something I really wanted but would not buy for myself usually. I bought it for my birthday. Since then, I smoke one cigar out of the box every new years and every birthday. So in 12 years, the box will be finished. It is a bit of a treat to myself each year and I take notes on each one I smoke. Lots of fun. I highly recommend.
    Thanks Alex. Good to know.
  • SlickRSSlickRS Posts: 44
    WOW !! Thanks Alex for that info. Thats why I come to ccom. Because this is the only site that I can get that kind of detailed info about the cigar making process.
  • cholmes8310cholmes8310 Posts: 1,585
    Alex Svenson:
    Last comment - on buying a box smoking one and then letting sit, smoking another and letting it sit... this is a great method. i do this all the time, especially when I am not certain how a cigar is going to age. By the time i figure out where the sweet spot it, I have a half box and I plow right through them while they are in their price. One thing I start a few years ago, was I splurged on an extremely expensive box of cigars, something I really wanted but would not buy for myself usually. I bought it for my birthday. Since then, I smoke one cigar out of the box every new years and every birthday. So in 12 years, the box will be finished. It is a bit of a treat to myself each year and I take notes on each one I smoke. Lots of fun. I highly recommend.
    There is absolutely no way I could do this. I don't have that kind of self control. I have had 4 Ruination's for about two months now, and I find myself picking one up every time I open the humi. I smoked one just to compare the others against after aging, but I'll be lucky if they all last six months,. ;)
  • laker1963laker1963 Posts: 5,046
    cholmes8310:
    Alex Svenson:
    Last comment - on buying a box smoking one and then letting sit, smoking another and letting it sit... this is a great method. i do this all the time, especially when I am not certain how a cigar is going to age. By the time i figure out where the sweet spot it, I have a half box and I plow right through them while they are in their price. One thing I start a few years ago, was I splurged on an extremely expensive box of cigars, something I really wanted but would not buy for myself usually. I bought it for my birthday. Since then, I smoke one cigar out of the box every new years and every birthday. So in 12 years, the box will be finished. It is a bit of a treat to myself each year and I take notes on each one I smoke. Lots of fun. I highly recommend.
    There is absolutely no way I could do this. I don't have that kind of self control. I have had 4 Ruination's for about two months now, and I find myself picking one up every time I open the humi. I smoked one just to compare the others against after aging, but I'll be lucky if they all last six months,. ;)

    LOL I have tried that with a couple of my favorite brands, but it doesn't work too well with me. I open my humi and let the cigars decide who is going to be smoked at that particular time. If I have a box of a favorite, and only a few of each of the others in the Humi... then I always seem to go to one of the box stick's.
    I want to put away a box of the C.Com Brazilian's but if I want to pull it off, the only way I will be able to do it is to buy two boxes and smoke from one. Then I will be able to leave the other alone, at least until the first box is gone :)
    Can you say self control ?
    I can say it... I just can't practice it !
  • DiamondogDiamondog Posts: 4,169
    Alex Svenson:
    One thing I start a few years ago, was I splurged on an extremely expensive box of cigars, something I really wanted but would not buy for myself usually. I bought it for my birthday. Since then, I smoke one cigar out of the box every new years and every birthday. So in 12 years, the box will be finished. It is a bit of a treat to myself each year and I take notes on each one I smoke. Lots of fun. I highly recommend.
    Can you enlighten us on the box? How was it this new years?
  • sightunseensightunseen Posts: 2,130
    Great info to be had in this thread. Can the admins somehow sticky this thread? Any newcomers to the hobby should read this.
  • DiamondogDiamondog Posts: 4,169
    sightunseen:
    Great info to be had in this thread. Can the admins somehow sticky this thread? Any newcomers to the hobby should read this.
    I don't think the forum has the capability or well lets say not been implemented to do stickies, too bad there are a lot of really good threads that should be stickied...
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
    Diamondog:
    sightunseen:
    Great info to be had in this thread. Can the admins somehow sticky this thread? Any newcomers to the hobby should read this.
    I don't think the forum has the capability or well lets say not been implemented to do stickies, too bad there are a lot of really good threads that should be stickied...
    in all fairness if people used the search capability then these old great threads could be brought back again and again.
  • Alex,
    Outstanding knowledge for those of us just starting out in this hobby. Thanks!
  • Retircs1Retircs1 California Posts: 453
    after the cigar has been made and shipped to Cigar.com why are we to continue to age them when we get them from Cigar.com? are they not ready when delivered? what are they doing until they are sold ?
  • kuzi16kuzi16 Posts: 14,616 ✭✭✭✭
    Retircs1:
    after the cigar has been made and shipped to Cigar.com why are we to continue to age them when we get them from Cigar.com? are they not ready when delivered? what are they doing until they are sold ?
    cigar.com will hold the cigar at proper humidity until they are sold. sometimes this takes a while, sometimes it doesnt. all cigar.com is doing is storing them much the way you would at home. no different.

    most cigars on the non-Cuban market are shipped from the factory when they consider them ready to smoke. in theory, all cigars you get from cigar.com are ready the minute they hit your mailbox.

    the reality is that at times the transit time, or conditions, will not promote the best experience. a few weeks in the humidor will solve this.

    another reason why people age cigars is because they like the way they taste after a few years.

    Arturo Fuente will sell OpusX when they are ready to smoke. many people like them as fresh as you can get them.
    others like them with a bit of age on them. this is all personal taste.
  • Retircs1Retircs1 California Posts: 453
    thank you for the schooling I appreciate at.
  • CigaryCigary Posts: 630
    Aging and resting are sometimes called the same thing and they aren't...they are different in terms of time. Resting usually is anything under 5 years and generally some will rest their cigars for 2 years as an average. People who are able to rest or age their cigars usually means they have enough cigars on hand to continue the hobby w/o running out of something to smoke. The question comes up...can every cigar benefit from rest or aging? The answer is no....usually your premium cigars will benefit greatly as well as those that are very strong. The maturation process is not complex...it just means you put them in an environment of 65-70% RH and a temp no higher than 70 degrees. Keep this formula stable w/o either of the readings going up and down. Aging is a process from 5 years on and this is something that requires a lot of patience. For anyone who is lucky enough to smoke aged cigars you will notice right away the difference between that and one that is only a few months old. The flavor profile is increased by the very least of 35% better which is why they are so expensive to buy. The process is a big investment of your time but if you like certain CC's and NC's buying them by the box and just let them age for years is going to be well worth the overall investment...I've got boxes that are 8 years old and the benefit of time on them is so worth it even though taste is subjective. If you ever want to age something try to buy one first with at least 5 years on it...if you see the difference then by all means buy a box today and age it.
  • Retircs1Retircs1 California Posts: 453
    the aging process you are talking about is that RP means with stick that are 10 12, etc... ?
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