Cigars are made from organic matter, which means at some point they will break down. However, if aged correctly, such as in a humidor not only will this stop the deterioration process, but it can even improve the taste over time.
The tobacco leaf plays a large part in the upkeep of the cigar’s life. Over time if not stored in a humidor, the oils that help preserve the cigar will begin to seep through the leaves and eventually dry our the cigar. This process can potentially happen very quickly, even in a span of a few days if not stored correctly.
To test whether the cigar is healthy or not is to squeeze on the cigar and if it goes back to its previous shape then it should be good. If it is too dry, it can often crack using this test.
How long to age a cigar will ultimately vary from cigar to cigar. Some cigars only need up to one month to reach peak performance, all the way up to ten years. After this mark, you probably won't see much of an improvement if you continue to age it.
Certain cigars, such as flavored cigars don’t even require aging, it is only necessary to keep the humidity levels accurate.
Full-bodied cigars will usually require more time to age than milder cigars. This is because they have more complex qualities to them.
Lower humidity levels can also improve a cigar's flavor. The lower humidity allows some of the moisture to evaporate, which then only leaves the oils that give the flavor to the cigar. This can also help with mold.
A bad cigar, unfortunately, won't improve the longer it ages. If it was created poorly then it’s not likely to get better with time.
The best fool proof way to test whether your cigars are going to age well is to periodically smoke them as they age. Once you buy a box, smoke one right away, then try again every several weeks. It really comes down to personal taste, some people prefer a more complex flavor, if you are one of these people you may favor a longer aged cigar. If you like how a cigar tastes at a certain point in time then maybe it has been aged long enough. There is no direct science behind this, for better or worse a lot of it comes down to experimentation.
There is a lot of talk about whether to keep the cellophane wrapper on the cigar. As a rule of thumb, I would keep it on if you don’t have separators in your humidor so that the cigar flavors don’t blend. If your humidor does have a way to keep the cigars separated than I would remove it. However, this ultimately comes down to the owners' preference, since there isn’t a hard rule on how to do this.
Another factor to consider, that I alluded to above is keeping your cigar brands separated as to not blend the flavors. If you have an extensive collection and have whole boxes of cigars it advised to keep them in their original boxes and not open once they are stored in the humidor. This can be especially important if the cigars are from different countries because of the varying flavors.
With that said, it is not uncommon for cigar aficionados to experiment with storing different cigars together and playing around with the flavors that they can get.
There is one thing that nearly everybody can agree on and that is that storing your cigars in a Spanish cedar lined humidor is the best type of wood to use. It is known to improve the flavor of your cigars over time and is good at deterring tobacco beetles. I wrote an article here about different woods if you would like to learn more.
Things to do to improve cigars lifespans
Cigars should be turned or rearranged about every 1-3 months just to make sure they are getting the best air circulation possible. This is especially important if your humidor is quite full.
- Flavored cigars don’t need to age
- Cigars age differently depending on their shape and size
- If you like how a certain cigar tastes out of the box, maybe you don’t need to age it
- Aging cigars ultimately comes down to experimentation and personal taste, so have fun!