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Aging Cigars: A Detailed Guide to Improving Your Smokes Over Time

If you love fine cigars, you’ve likely wondered about the mysterious art of aging cigars. Aging cigars are like crafting a masterpiece over time, unlocking hidden flavors and transforming the smoking experience into something truly exceptional. In this detailed guide, we’ll delve into the captivating world of cigar aging and discover how this process can elevate your smokes to new heights. So, grab your favorite stogie, and let’s embark on a journey to improve your smoking pleasure over time!  

Understanding the Art of Aging Cigars 

Aging cigars is a fascinating process beyond merely storing them for an extended period. It involves the interaction between the tobacco leaves’ oils and the environment, which allows the flavors to harmonize and mature. During aging, the tobacco undergoes fermentation and oxidation, leading to a mellower and more refined smoke. This transformation is akin to aging fine wine or whiskey, where time imparts a complexity that cannot be rushed or replicated. 

Why Age Cigars?

A freshly rolled cigar is good to go immediately, but aging premium cigars can enhance their flavors. Aged cigars often boast mellower taste profiles. In optimal storage conditions, the tobacco inside the cigar blends harmoniously with the wrapper, resulting in a delightful fusion of flavor and aroma. 

Proper aging can take months or even years in a cigar humidor.

This isn’t a problem for most cigar enthusiasts since they may not smoke through their collection immediately. A few days to a week can be sufficient for a store-bought cigar to settle in the humidor and be smoke-ready. 

The longer you wait, the more the oils and humidity in the cigars break down, refining their flavors.

A quality humidor, especially made from Spanish cedar wood, provides a consistent temperature and humidity level for optimal storage. 

When humidity and temperature fluctuate excessively, cigars expand and contract, leading to cracked wrappers and compromised consistency.

This can make cigars staler and less enjoyable. To preserve the full pleasure of your cigars, keep them in a well-maintained humidor with steady conditions. 

The Transformation: How Aging Improves the Tobacco and Cigars

Over time, the aging process works wonders on cigars, refining their rough edges and bringing out hidden flavors. As the tobacco matures, the harshness diminishes, resulting in a smoother and more enjoyable smoking experience.

The cigars’ taste becomes more balanced and nuanced, offering a delightful interplay of sweetness, earthiness, spice, and other pleasant notes.

The transformation is akin to a metamorphosis that elevates ordinary cigars into exquisite treasures. 

But before you decide on the aging duration for your cigars, remember that most premium cigars are already aged. The master blender’s decision on the tobacco blend can take years before the cigars reach the stores. After fermentation, the blend and wrapping age for about three years before rolling. 

During this post-fermentation period, the tobaccos age in large bales, allowing a gentle fermentation to continue without harming the batch. Some cigar makers age their tobacco with bark or in wooden barrels, similar to aging some types of alcohol, to blend the wood and tobacco flavors.

At high-end cigar shops, cigars may spend additional months in a room before being sold. This means many great cigars are ready to smoke immediately, especially when properly stored. 

While not all cigars require extended aging, knowing the age of your purchase is helpful. If you decide to age them further instead of smoking immediately, it helps to know how long you want them to wait. 

Cigar Aging at Home

Aging your cigars at home is a rewarding learning journey. Though the process is fundamentally simple, it demands patience as it unfolds gradually with trial and error.

As we mentioned earlier, this isn’t an exact science; it’s a matter of personal preference.  

To begin, getting a box of 20 cigars is a great idea. Store them in your humidor and try smoking one within the initial days to establish a baseline for their flavor profile. Take your time and gauge how long you think they should age.

Then, over the following weeks or months, try one cigar at a time if you prefer a slower pace. Take notes on the tasting notes to remember your impressions at different periods.  

Every cigar in a box may be different, each with its unique flavor notes. Nevertheless, after enjoying the box, you’ll develop a general sense of when each cigar peaks.

Some may be best right after purchase, while others may benefit from further aging.  

Whatever your findings, note them if you plan to buy the same cigars in the future. And if you don’t enjoy certain cigars at any stage, consider trying a new set and starting the process afresh.  

Once you’ve discovered your preferred cigars and their ideal age, having an aged box of cigars becomes a delightful treat for yourself or a thoughtful gift for a fellow enthusiast.

Embrace this incredible experience, and with each aged cigar, you’ll savor the art of cigar aging, enhancing your smoking pleasure. Cheers to the joys of home aging! 

Choose the Right Cigars for Aging

Selecting the appropriate cigars for aging is crucial. Premium, handmade cigars crafted with high-quality tobacco and expert construction are ideal candidates for aging. Cigars with well-balanced blends and solid structures benefit most from aging.

Consider medium to full-bodied cigars, as they often showcase more pronounced changes in flavor during aging. However, experimentation is the key, and don’t hesitate to try different cigars to find your preferred candidates for aging. 

Proper Storage: The Humidor’s Role

The heart of aging cigars lies in the humidor — a special container designed to maintain the perfect environment for aging cigars. We’ve covered this topic in a previous post. The humidor is typically lined with aromatic Spanish cedar, which imparts subtle flavors to the cigars over time.

A humidor regulates humidity levels, keeping them between 65-70%, and ensures a stable temperature, ideally around 65-70°F (18-21°C). This controlled atmosphere prevents the cigars from drying out and promotes an even aging process. Let’s unpack the humidor’s role and the ideal set of parameters for aging below. 

Cigars can be pretty unpredictable. You might buy a large box only to find the first cigar taste delicious. Instead of tossing the rest, you store them in your humidor for company’s sake or forget about them. Months later, you may give one another a shot and fall in love with it! 

Cigar humidors can elevate a fine cigar to greatness, provided they are adequately maintained. True aficionados swear by solid Spanish cedar cigar boxes, even if they come at a premium cost compared to just cedar-lined ones. This ensures a consistent temperature and humidity level inside the humidor. 

The general rule is the 70/70 principle: maintaining 70 percent relative humidity (RH) with a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21ºC). Some prefer a slightly lower level, around 65/65 (65% RH at 65ºF/18ºC), for intentional aging. Remember, humidors need regular upkeep to function well and keep the perfect storage conditions. 

Refill the water reservoir regularly and monitor the temperature throughout the aging process. Rotating your cigars every few weeks aids in aging. Switch their positions from top to bottom or between sections if both are full. This allows them to experience different humidity levels and enhances the aging process. 

Patience is a Virtue 

Aging cigars demands patience, and this virtue pays off with remarkable rewards. The aging process works magic as the cigars rest peacefully in the humidor. The tobacco’s oils slowly interact, creating a more complex and harmonious flavor profile.

While you may be eager to sample your aged cigars, resist the temptation and let them age for at least six months to a year for optimal results. 

Monitor Your Cigars 

As you age your cigars, it’s essential to monitor their progress. Regularly check the humidor’s humidity levels to ensure their tobaccos remain within the optimal range.

Rotate the cigars every few weeks to maintain an even aging process, as the cigars closer to the humidification source may age differently from those on the outer edges.

Attention to these details ensures your cigars age uniformly and develop their flavors to the fullest potential.  

Trial and Error — The Name of the Game

Aging cigars is an exploratory journey with no set formula. Embrace trial and error to find the best aging periods that suit your preferences. Not every cigar will benefit from long-term aging, so be open to trying various aging times. Some cigars may peak in flavor after a few months, while others may require a more extended aging period. Embrace the adventure of discovery, as every aged cigar becomes a unique experience. 

Determining the ideal aging time for your cigar is a science that has yet to be determined. It’s a matter of personal preference, as cigar enjoyment varies from person to person. Some prefer the fresh flavor of new cigars, while others lean towards aged sticks. 

To begin, you can enjoy one cigar right after you receive your parcel and jot down your impressions and aroma in your cigar journal. Return after six months to observe how the cigar has evolved, and repeat the process until you are content. Generally, cigars with larger ring gauges and full-bodied blends benefit from a longer aging process. 

Aging a cigar is a way of appreciating the time and effort invested in perfecting this authentic beauty. Understand that you might lose some cigars during the aging process. Some might succumb to mold, others completely lose their taste, and others become ruined. Accidents within the aging process and humidor happen; it is the perfect opportunity to learn from your mistakes and improve your skills.  

General Tips and Tricks

Here are some final thoughts, tips, and tricks to help you on your cigar-aging journey.  

Aged cigars don’t equal quality 

Its age does not solely determine the quality of a cigar. While some cigars are best enjoyed fresh, others benefit from a few years of aging to unlock their full potential.

However, it is worth noting that premium cigars that have been aged for several years often provide a heightened and intricate smoking experience. The aging process allows the tobacco’s nuances to develop and harmonize, resulting in a more refined and complex taste.

Ultimately, choosing between smoking a fresh cigar or an aged one comes from personal preference and the desired smoking experience. 

Rotation is important

Remember to rotate your cigars from time to time to guard against pests and mold development.  

Be patient

Perfection isn’t attained in a week or two; it takes time. There is no exact formula either; enjoy the journey.


Aging cigars is a gratifying pursuit that transforms ordinary cigars into extraordinary delights. From understanding the intricacies of the aging process to choosing the right cigars and maintaining a proper aging environment, every step contributes to the final masterpiece. Patience is the key as you await the metamorphosis of flavors, and the rewards of aging are well worth the wait. Embrace the art of aging cigars, and with each aged smoke, your appreciation for this timeless tradition will grow, making your cigar experience even more memorable and enjoyable. Happy aging, and here’s to savoring the richness of life, one aged cigar at a time! 

Andrew Olsen, a Musicology Ph.D., explores the intersections of art, literature, and music. Beyond academics, he's a cigar aficionado who revels in experimenting with pipe tobacco blends and collecting vintage and new pipes. Other pursuits include reading about cigars and tobacco pipes, blends, and (of course) writing about it.

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